The moment has finally arrived and, as with all much-anticipated events, Election Day isn't what I once imagined it would be. Way back when this race was first getting going, it seemed like we election watchers would stay singularly obsessed with the race to the end. It almost seemed like time would stop on November 6.
But, as with all points on the timeline, the Big Day brought with it a new future, as well as present that wasn't quite what I expected. I still desperately want Obama to win, of course. I'm already glued to the battleground election results. And I can't stop checking Nate Silver's blog, which, as of this writing, puts Obama's chance of winning at 90.9 percent.
But it's perhaps because of my faith in Silver that I'm already looking ahead. And there in the post-election tomorrow I see not just a country where we don't have to discuss legitimate rape, Paul Ryan's abs, or the idea that 47 percent of the country really doesn't matter. I see a country where people care for and about the needy in a new way.
No doubt, a large part of this is Hurricane Sandy. While this may be just another election day in parts of the country less affected by the storm, here in the New York area, things are still decidedly not back to normal. Thousands of people are still without power, homes. Food and fuel are scarce. And another storm is on its way.
The beautiful thing, the compelling thing that can't help but push the election to the back burner once you witness it, is the kind, humane and authentic response real people have to the disaster. All around me, neighbors and friends have jumped in to help, collecting coats, blankets, warm food. During the worst of the storm, a home health aide made her way against all odds from the Bronx to Brooklyn to care for my dying father-in-law. After making her way back through our ailing transit system to her own family, she called to check on him.
Sandy is, of course, a wake-up call about the importance of climate change and the size of government, FEMA in particular. But it's also a reminder of the ties that bind us to one another and how, despite the ugliness of this election season, they have turned a nation of little folks overshadowed by politicians into one where the actual people clearly matter more.
The impulse to look out for one another is so much more compelling than anything either candidate has said, it's made the past few months of bickering and lies seem even more heartbreaking than it actually was. Looking at the people lined up at my polling place, waiting for hours to cast their ballots, I'm heartened that, despite everything — the storm, the meanspiritedness, the endless political ads — people remember what really matters.
So on this Election Day, I'm getting on that long line and looking forward to a second Obama administration that, I truly hope, will honor and support the real needs of real people.