(Shout out to Nikole for the title, I totally stole that!)
It's been like 5 days since Election Day and I still can't believe it's actually over. But I know it is, because the level of my work e-mail has dropped off significantly. So much so, that yesterday when I didn't get an email for 20 minutes, I restarted my blackberry because I thought something was wrong! I was getting hundreds of campaign emails daily. I feel so lonely now! I always loved the ones in my inbox that looked like they were actually from "John and Cindy" or "Sarah" or "Barack." I miss my email buddies!
I spent so much time and energy covering the '08 Campaign that the day after was kind of depressing! A let down. Kind of like the day after Christmas. There's a huge buildup, then a giant exhale, then… nothing. It's weird.
From the snows of New Hampshire for the first primary… to Hillary's never-ending run, to my sweet Huckadoodle… to the conventions… and the debates… and finally election night in Phoenix… I had a blast covering this historic race! I learned so much about how politics and democracy work. I learned so much about how my business works – the good and the bad. I gained great respect for my co-workers. I memorized policies and plans and electoral college votes and lots of random trivia about the candidates, their wives, their past votes. I am so blessed that I got to be here, in this time, in this moment in history, wow!
Sometimes, I think – I am one lucky girl, but no, that's not it. It's not really luck. I've worked really, really hard to get here. And I'm really, really blessed. I pray for more opportunities like this in the future. These are the things that make me LOVE what I do. Being an eyewitness to history! It doesn't get any better than that, especially for a nerd like me!
Unfortunately, I didn't take many pictures in Phoenix. We were SLAMMED from the second our plane touched down to the second we left! And we were with the loser! I can't imagine what Chicago was like! I would have liked to have been there – I think that would have been even more amazing. But that's not a complaint, I assure you. I feel blessed and honored that I was a part of it, period.
I'm also sad I didn't get any pictures of any cacti (or cactuses – which is it?) or of the mountains in Phoenix. What a neat place! Having traveled a lot in the past year and a half, I've realized that much of the country looks the same. But Phoenix really looked different.
This was the ballroom where the party was held for John McCain. He and Sarah Palin were not actually in this ballroom.
I was hoping that they would come in though because the press folks kept saying "they're not scheduled to appear in here." Red flag. Scheduled, huh?
I was hoping they'd show, but nope.
Meet the press! Here we all are, jammed up all cozy on the risers in the ballroom. This was actually taken the day before election day. A lot of us were still setting up.
You've never seen so many wires in your life, I assure you! This scene would drive my mom crazy because she can't stand cords!
I won't bore you with details of how I was deathly afraid we weren't going to be able to get on TV this night. Thank God everything worked out!
This was actually on election night. You can see the McCain/Palin supporters filled the ballroom!
Before the returns started coming in, there was a joyful mood. Everyone was eating (and drinking!) and there was some hope in the air.
Then, when the results started coming in, it was strange. It was like the campaign was keeping the bad news from the crowd. It wasn't very effective, though, because they had CNN and FOX on those big screens, but the audio wasn't turned up, so you couldn't hear it.
I took this picture of a country singer at some point during the night. This was either Hank Williams, Jr. or Chris Rich. I don't remember.
It was really strange, though. Every now and then, this guy (I don't remember his name, he was a former Louisiana Governor) would come up to the stage and give outdated election results totally leaving out the fact that Barack Obama was up to like 195 electoral votes and counting.
I could tell the people weren't fooled. One country singer after another took the stage. In between there was a band that played lots of Beatles songs.
When McCain would win a state, they would announce it and the crowd would cheer, but it was still kind of sad, subdued.
Then, another country song. A Johnny Cash song was even repeated twice.
Then, more Beatles covers.
Then, the former LA Governor guy would step back up to the mic all cheesy like and say something outdated.
We just kept going and going and going. For HOURS. We were stuck on the risers because there weren't stairs off our end and if we wanted to leave we'd have to duck in front of a bunch of live shots.
If I had it to do over again, I definitely would have made a grocery store run! We were STARVING.
We did have water, thankfully. This is my photographer, David, hydrating.
Here are our neighbors on the risers. We were on the end of a row of foreign press. Eurovision, love them!
It's so funny to me to watch the correspondents come up and work with the freelance photographers. There's the language barrier. But it doesn't matter. There's the common understanding – they need a microphone, they need an earpiece. Mic check. Then they're off and running in their respective languages.
I love their crazy microphones! Doesn't this one look like a nerf toy?
Towards the end of the night, they opened up the lawn where John McCain was speaking to the supporters who had been in our ballroom.
So, they didn't end up coming in there. That was kind of a bummer. I was hoping they would!
We listened to John McCain give what I thought was a very gracious speech conceding to Barack Obama.
We listened to Obama's speech through the internet. (It wasn't played in the ballroom, which I thought was kind of nasty after McCain had clearly just given a very nice "come together" speech).
Above here, there's David, Sally – my correspondent, and Ivan, our photographer from our Milwaukee station. I had a great time working with these people.
As with most major news events – I experienced it as a TV news producer first, and as an American second. We were in "work" mode while the speeches were being made. We had a job to do. We went live. We wrote and shot a story for the next morning. We tried to find food at the end of the night, but we were unsuccessful.
We ended up going to the I-Hop by our hotel at like 4am, so that was nice. THEN, I got back to my room and watched a replay of Obama's speech on TV. I had tears in my eyes. I was finally experiencing the events as an American. A proud American. I hope no one gets all nasty about this post. It's really lame if you do, I'm just going to pre-call you out. Whether you supported McCain or Obama, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat, whatever. The election is over. History is made. Mac was gracious. O was hopeful. I think this is a remarkable time for our nation. I am glad to be young and in this country at this time. I look forward to covering the transition and the new administration. And I really do believe everything will be okay!
What I do really hope is that all of these millions of people who got involved in some way for the first time in this election will stay involved. You don't even have to be uber-involved. You don't have to be the call-my-congressman all the time involved (if you do, good for you though!) Even if you just registered to vote, and you voted, do it again! Any level of participation will make this nation greater. If that truly has changed, this may well be a turning point in our history for all of us. When I think of the service that so many of our young men and women are doing, the sacrifices that have been made for our country's sake in the past… and I look at what just happened on Tuesday – I'm proud. Really proud to be an American. Cue Lee Greenwood! And I've always been proud! I was raised to be proud of my country and to participate.
But I know not everyone is/was. And I think if that's changing, that's remarkable! Go USA! We just showed the world how it's done. This is how you elect a leader. This is freedom, in action. Yay us.