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We Got Our Country Back!

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As the polls were about to start closing and the long-awaited numbers finally be revealed, I was experiencing the combination of excitement and dread I remember feeling when someone I was seeing said, “We have to talk.”

“Too close to call,” we heard from TV commentators. The states we’d been told would be predictors weren’t definitive. The people who calculate how each candidate could get the 270 needed electoral votes were waffling, making it impossible to breathe normally.

In 2004, we’d jumped the gun, prematurely believing John Kerry had won. We wouldn’t make that mistake again, which is why this was the “ein hora” election, a Jewish superstition suggesting that being too optimistic can be a jinx. But then Pennsylvania came through, and at the stroke of 11 p.m. in New York, we were put out of our misery when we heard, “We are calling it for Barack Obama!”

We jumped up and down. We screamed. We hugged and kissed. We screamed some more. We opened champagne. The euphoria and relief were no less intense than when you get a good amnio report.

From neighboring apartments and city streets, we were hearing similar outbursts and horn honking, a cacophony generally reserved for a Yankee World Series victory. We were as teary and emotional as the faces being shown at Grant Park, Harlem, and Rockefeller Center.

This was, we recognized even as it was happening, a monumental, historic moment. Americans had stood up to racial prejudice and negative campaign messages to vote for hope and change. We could anticipate reclaiming the country and feeling proud of our leadership.

An unprecedented effort had gone into this campaign. We and our friends canvassed door-to-door despite bad feet, made endless rounds of calls to the battleground states even after being repeatedly rejected and dissed, shlepped to Florida, contributed to the max, blogging, working the polls, registering young people, and driving those in need of transportation. We felt we could—and had to—do our part to help get Obama into office. This victory is a communal one.

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