December 2008

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From the left, DA-Israel Executive Committee Member-at-Large Eti Magal with blue sparkles in her hair and on her face, friend Liat Rosenblum and DA-Israel Chair Joanne Yaron at the DA-Israel / Obama "desk" at the Mike's Place Tel Aviv election eve watch. The sign in Hebrew says "Change".
News and Opinion

From Downright Fear to Absolute Joy

The Story of Before and After the Obama Landslide Victory

-- Joanne Yaron, Chair, Democrats Abroad-Israel

Absolutely no one at the Democrats Abroad country committee level all the way up to the Democrats Abroad international level was certain Obama was going to win. Indeed, we were all biting our fingernails and literally praying. We hung on every word of every poll and every pundit. It was excruciating. The thought of another four years of Republican administration with the current Vice Presidential candidate as lady in waiting was just too much to contemplate. We worried, thrashing ourselves for not doing enough or doing the wrong things. Mea culpea was in the air. We could almost smell defeat. We clung together. We kept apart.

In Israel we were in two main groups, those conducting an election watch, vigil to be exact, at one of the popular with "Anglos" Mikes' Place bar-restaurants–jazz clubs in Tel Aviv and the other in Jerusalem; and those who stayed home alone or with a few close friends to see it on TV. In Mike's Place Tel Aviv we gathered at 12 midnight Tuesday November 4th for endless local and foreign media interviews with reporters and camera crews – putting our best face forward with a smile pretending certainty that Obama would win. It was hard. Our hearts were pounding in our ears.

The very early East Coast results began coming in around 1 AM Wednesday morning our time. It seemed forever that McCain was leading 8 to 5 in the little score box of electors achieved at the bottom on the right hand side of CNN's huge screen. The jumping and singing of the gathered crowd went down a decibel as those dastardly numbers remained there staring us in the face. And then nearly an hour later the tide began to turn. And tide it was. A wave of results began to pour in, more and more and the hated 8 to 5 digits began to change rapidly in our favor. We still didn't dare believe we were going to win, but we breathed a little easier.

By 2 AM our time the band closed up shop and we took over their corner. A huge CNN screen was now in place where the band had been. The numbers in that little box at the bottom right were changing at high speed, and then the miracle happened – by 4 AM our time Florida and Ohio went blue – and we knew that Obama had won. There was no doubt now. We shivered with joy and gave out huge whelps of pure happiness. The impossible had happened. America had chosen an African-American to be President, a great man who brought new hope to a severely distressed United States, a deeply troubled Middle East and what had apparently become an economically sinking world.

As the tidal wave of states that went for Obama swept the country, we realized we were witness not only to a win, but to a landslide victory that also promised a majority or near majority in the Senate and a definite majority in the House, bringing up in the rear more and more Democratic state governors, as well.

Once again local and foreign media sought us out for interviews – but we were too overwhelmed to calmly respond to questions. "You sounded so elated, so exhilarated, so joyous - never heard you sound so happy as this morning at 5 AM when your announcement was the start of the news edition", wrote a close friend who takes a long walk early every morning. Her description of how I and all those with me at Mike's Place Tel Aviv felt was accurate. We were indeed, elated, exhilarated and joyous and further uplifted by President-Elect Obama's elegant victory speech and Senator McCain's equally elegant concession statement.

That is the state we DA country committee Chairs and Vice Chairs arrived in at our Democrats Abroad international gathering in Istanbul just 10 days later. Representatives from the now greatly enlarged DPCA (the full name of DA is Democratic Party Committee Abroad) were engaged for three very full days and evenings. We celebrated in the evenings and held meetings in the daytime. We welcomed the many new country committees that had been formed. We elected, among other acts, a new DA International Treasurer and new DA International Counsel to replace the outgoing holders of these two posts, who had been elected to serve on the DNC, the ruling body of the Democratic Party, on which DPCA has 8 voting members.

Our meetings ranged from reviews of international officers' and various committee reports, to consideration and passage of several resolutions, such as the one calling for America's Recommitment to the Principles of the Geneva Convention. Among the committee reports was that of the Democrats Abroad Platform Committee to which I had the honor of being elected back in March. My part in the service of this prestigious committee was responsibility for the very weighty "US Foreign and Defense Policy" section, which included the thorny sub-section on Iraq and the Middle East.

Our deliberations ranged from what we had and had not done during the long 2008 primary and election year process to plans for the coming 2010 midterm elections and a general "where do we go from here". Still effected by our state of elation, it was difficult to be down to earth. This will come about at our individual country committee meetings and events, such as ours here in Israel, scheduled for mid-December. Meanwhile we are still afloat enjoying and anticipating the dawn of a new age.

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