Election night for us here in Switzerland was actually the morning, since the first U.S. polls closed at midnight our time. In Geneva, a mere 700 Obama supporters from around the globe piled into ballrooms at the Hotel Richmond starting at 10 p.m. for an extraordinary party that went on through breakfast.
As elsewhere, there was champagne, banners reading "HOPE," a tidal wave of cheering and weeping. President-elect Obama himself made an appearance, albeit in the form of a live-sized cardboard cut-out in the foyer of the hotel that everyone took turns posing beside goofily, grinning with pride. (Tres originale, n'est pas? I, sycophant of sychophants, was a repeat offender).
I don't think the blogophere needs anymore hyperbole (albeit accurate) about how fucking phenomenal it was to be a part of history being made -- or extolling how heartening and redemptive it was to see the better angels of America's nature prevail last night, from the breathtaking election outcome right down to McCain's elegiac concession speech. And does it still need to be said, either, that literally overnight, America's standing in the world has been revised and restored?
Yet through the fog of my ecstatic exhaustion (read: hangover), I will add just a few more notes to the global Hallelujah Chorus:
In the foyer of the ballroom: a large printed red-and-white poster of the Swiss flag reading simply: Four languages. One people. One hope. And in tiny letters at the bottom: Switzerland for Barack Obama.
As Obama gives his victory speech on a giant television screen overhead, an African woman calls back to her homeland on her cellphone, laughing and stomping her feet, she is so joyful. "He won," she shouts across the continents, dancing as she speaks. "Tell everyone in the family, he's president. He's the president of the United States! Of the world!"
A Danish man spontaneously hugs me. "I am so proud of America," he declares, tearing up. "You are such an inspiration."
Texts, emails, phone calls arrive from friends nearby. They are from France, Cameroon, Morocco. People haven't slept. They've been riveted. They've been thinking of all of their American friends. They tell me how relieved they are, how admiring, how jubiliant. "Ma soeur," one of them cries. "It is a new day." Another says simply: Thank you.
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