I grew up in a mixed household. My Dad is a lifelong Republican, my Mom was a Democrat. In the days before 24-hour news, the internet, Twitter, Facebook, and texting to your personal back-pocket phone, it was easier to avoid politics. They didn't discuss it, and we were left to make our own decisions.
I became a Democrat. My sister, an Independent.
When I got to high school, a very cute senior boy was a bit smitten with me. I was flattered, but didn't quite know what to make of it. He was really popular, handsome, and well-liked.
Then he found out my political leaning. And that was the end of it.
I couldn't quite believe it.
I guess I was sheltered. I believed people could work together, live together, love each other, and be successful even when they didn't agree. I thought I'd be given a chance even if I didn't have the same views as someone else. I thought that intelligence, character, and integrity were more important than blue or red.
Over the last 8 years, we saw our country swing very far to the right. People took sides, and anger bubbled to the surface. We saw some really ugly behavior on both sides. Living in a very liberal city, and working in some very conservative schools, I saw both sides on a daily basis.
I got tired of defending myself. To people who questioned my reasons for wanting to move to France, to French people who questioned my country's reasons for electing President Bush, to people who questioned whether or not I was A Good Person because I didn't agree with them, to people who thought I wasn't radical enough because I was proud to be a Democrat, and to those who thought I was a traitor to my country because I wasn't as angry as they were.
Good doesn't have a side. We all care. We all want the best for this country. We don't always agree on what that is, but this isn't black and white, good and evil, right and wrong.
Last night, I was excited to be a part of history being made. I stood in line for an hour, laughing and talking with other citizens who were casting their votes, too. I was so proud of my daughter, who waited patiently, munching on vanilla wafers and saying "Tekk Ooo!" to the volunteer who brought them to her. After voting, we picked up her dad to bring him back to the polls, sniffling and coughing, where he waited ninety minutes to cast his ballot.
Even before the results came in, I felt an amazing sense of pride. More people came out in this election than I've ever seen. The election workers said in a typical election, our polling place would get 200 voters. By 3 PM, voter number 713 cast her ballot (that was me!) I've voted in nearly every election since I turned 18, and I have always been proud to exercise my right, but last night, I was prouder for our country than I can ever remember being. Not because of a war we won, or a thing we invented. Because we are the United States of America, and we each have a voice, and more came out to exercise that right than I thought possible.
This election, no matter how you feel about the results, changed the face of America. It brought us out, got people to stand up, and brought excitement back to our country. It reminded us that we do matter. Our votes are worth something, and the sacrifices made for our right to them cannot be forgotten.
We have broken through a barrier, and there's no going back.
Congratulations, America. I knew you could do it.