Would be built on harmony.

The first time I saw Over the Rhine sing “If a Song Could Be President,” the crowd got pretty rowdy, especially around the lines: “Break out of this minor key / Half-truths and hypocrisy / We wouldn’t need an Underachiever-in-Chief / If a song could be president.” When I got a copy of the song, I was surprised to hear that it’s actually not that in-your-face about politics. Just that one bit. The rowdy crowd made the song seem more angry than it really was. Mike, as a good Barack Obama supporter, played the song on his radio show over the summer, but I told him he hadn’t really experienced it until he’d heard it with a live audience.

Which is why I was so excited when they started playing it on Friday night at their concert at Guilford College. Guilford College is a Quaker school about five minutes from my house. If there was ever a place that would have an angry liberal anti-Bush crowd, it’s Guilford College. Mike was going to get his real experience after all!

But that’s not what happened. When they said “Underachiever-in-Chief,” one guy kind of woo-hooed. That was it. And I realized . . . things are different now. These people are trying out being mellow for a while instead of being angry. Their candidate won. I am sure that the song got crazy response just a week earlier, but not on Friday. It was kind of nice to see. It was that way at school, too. There were people who were excited about the election results, and there were a lot of people who said things like, “I didn’t vote for him, but I think he will be a good president.” In the midst of all this economic mess, it was good to see some optimism and positivity.

Before I finish all of my election talk, I would just like to say two things about the Over the Rhine concert. First, they played some songs from Films for Radio, which I really enjoyed. I made Mike listen to that album when we drove to Chapel Hill on Sunday, because I hadn’t listened to it in so long. Second, I have seen them THREE TIMES and NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES have they played “Latter Days.” Everyone makes it sound like it’s so overplayed at their shows. So, what, am I never going to get to hear it now? BOOOOOO. (I am going to add a third thing: I really wanted them to play “Long Lost Brother” as well. But other than that, I enjoyed the setlist a lot.)

When history is made, we all have our stories about where we were and what we were doing. I know the people who took to the streets for Election Night wouldn’t trade their experiences for the world, but I am the kind of girl who would rather sit in her pajamas and watch Brian Williams and the map at Rockefeller Center while endlessly refreshing my computer for news and updates on the election. We rejected offers to watch the returns with friends in order to stay home and veg out, just as we always do. I actually went to bed at 10:30 – the past two elections have soured me on staying up so late. I still remember Mike waking me up to tell me that they had “un-called” the 2000 election. That was the very first presidential election I voted in, the one with the hanging chads and the popular vote vs. the electoral college. And 2004 was a little bit crazy, too, with that whole Ohio thing. This time, I decided early on that we weren’t going to actually know the results of North Carolina on Tuesday night. And the way North Carolina was going, it kind of made me think we wouldn’t know much of anything for sure on Tuesday night. And then that whole Pennsylvania and Ohio thing happened, and I thought that was pretty much the end of it, but I still kind of thought that we might not have official results at a reasonable hour. So I went to bed. I am lame. I learned on Wednesday that my students all stayed up later than I did. (Which explained some of their short tempers.)

So my story is that I found out that Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States when Mike came and woke me up just after 11:00. He said, “They’ve called it for Barack Obama.” I said, “North Carolina?” and he said, “THE WHOLE THING.” He looked so happy, and maybe even a little teary eyed. I smiled at him. And then I went back to sleep. I watched everything on the TiVo on Wednesday night, and that was good enough for me.

If we have kids, I won’t have some big dramatic story to tell them about how I experienced this election. But that’s okay, because what is really important is that if we have kids, they won’t ever grow up with the idea that only white men can be president. Just as it is difficult for me to imagine a world in which different races use different water fountains, now we can hope that future generations will find it difficult to imagine a world in which the idea of an African-American president seemed like a distant possibility. That’s something to be proud of, America. And I am proud to have witnessed such a thing, even if all I have to say about it is that I was in my pajamas, sleeping peacefully (being mellow) when Mike brought me the news.

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