timesheadline.jpg6:32AM, the day after election day.

“Mommy, Obama won, he won!” The same four little hands as yesterday, but this time chilly from already having gone downstairs for the paper before I was even awake.

The boys want to know the score, because of course if someone won, then there’s a score. Once I’d gotten some coffee into me (don’t I realize that I’m too old to start drinking champagne at 11PM? I guess one must suffer for history), I realized that there were, in fact, a whole lot of ways to answer that question:

  • The electoral college score: 349 to 173 as of mid-morning, with North Carolina still uncalled.
  • The voter rolls: more than 3 million first-time voters
  • The international opinion meter: way higher than on November 3rd
  • The national optimism meter: WAY higher than on November 3rd
  • The correcting-history score: off the chart

Because I live in Manhattan, I could be pretty sure of encountering equally elated citizens this morning as I went around doing my errands after dropping the boys at their respective schools. (Okay, so Caleb has maybe just a little glimmer of a fever, but Mommy has Got Stuff To Do and it doesn’t involve pushing a four-year-old around in a stroller all day.) At the grocery store, the farmer’s market, Staples … everyone had a little smile, and the “have a good day” exchanges seemed particularly meaningful.

For someone like me, who has a pretty cynical worldview (and okay, I’m often bitter, too, but without the guns and religion), what seems perhaps the most unreal about today is the emotion bubbling inside me. I think – dear god could it be? – I think I feel … patriotism. Actual patriotism: pride about what my country represents, about what it did for itself last night, about the amazingly peaceful transition that just took place and that continues to unfold. Think about it: an entire regime has just been deposed without a single shot.

It’s true: this liberal cynic feels patriotic, dammit, like maybe I should be wearing red-white-and-blue, or a flag pin or something. I am, frankly, amazed that my country, which so often takes pride in its xenophobia and ignorance, and which has for so long clung to narrow and parochial views of difference, managed to shake off its blinders and move forward towards something – dare we say it – that has the potential for magnificence?

Last night, in his amazing speech in Grant Park, Obama said “that’s the true genius of America, that America can change.” We needn’t be trapped by tradition, or convention, or the bleaker parts of our own history. Let’s revel in this particular change, shall we? Here’s an image that will bring a smile: imagine Dubya trying to make that speech – no, not write that speech, we all know that’s impossible – just trying to get his mouth around all those elegant, powerful words – those elegant, powerful ideas.

Before we left for school this morning, Liam and Caleb were working together (see? Barack does work miracles) on a lego fortress/castle/poison destroyer. Liam was sing-songing to himself as he worked: “we have a president and his color is black, we have a president and his color is black.” Every now and then, Caleb would chime in “and blue!” because he’s very excited about the Empire State building being lit up in Democratic blue tonight.

I guess you could say, then, that today, for a change, black-and-blue are the color of victory.