My memory is very selective. It’s good at facial recognition and dates, but not so great with facts and numbers. That being said, I remember exactly where I was on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008.
It was a sunny, warmer day than it was today, which has been cloudy and periodically rainy. Back four years ago, Columbia Public Schools was canceled for the day, as it usually is for general elections, as many of the schools also serve as polling locations for the occasion. Instead of sleeping in until mid-morning (let’s be honest, I would’ve shot for noonish), I was up before the time that I usually woke to get a start on the election fever.
I volunteered with my friend Anna as part of a youth coalition for one of the party affiliation headquarters in town. We spent the morning on the Stephen’s College Campus posting reminders of encouragement to vote. In the afternoon, we piled into a car with other members of the organization to head to Ashland, knock on a few doors and make sure that our list of registered voters would have access to transportation to their polling place.
After the lunch rush, we were back in downtown Columbia. We held signs supporting the party’s presidential candidate along Broadway and received honks of both approval and disapproval. The sun was really warm at that time, and I had peeled off my sweater as cars whizzed by. A traveling guitarist came and chatted with us a little about politics, but mostly about the importance of political involvement at any age.
I returned home that afternoon just before my mom had gotten home from work. She came in wearing her “I Voted” sticker, and I showed her one of the signs that I had sported throughout the day. I still have that sign in the back of my childhood closet, along with the XXL T-shirt that they gave us for volunteering our time.
That night, I remember watching the results coverage with my mom on our local TV station. Numbers ticked away at the bottom as results from the electoral college came in. When the numbers came in giving Barack Obama the necessary majority to be declared president, the masses on TV cheered.
I knew that my American history class the next day would be an interesting one. We had, as a project, created brochures outlining the presidential platforms of either candidate of our choosing. It was a pretty even split, and even though Mrs. Thornsberry had specified that our brochures didn’t necessarily have to reflect our support of either candidate, most people did. It was a pretty even split of supporters for Obama and McCain. Students the next day were either ecstatic or sorely disappointed.
It was an exciting time. I was eager to learn about the issues and find out the results. There was a lot of energy among the people, but I didn’t feel any sense of anxiousness. That feeling didn’t come unti four years later.