Casey O’Brien – Washington Correspondent
Now the election is over and you’re either feeling ecstatic or upset with the way things turned out. I was nervous for the outcome because it was projected to be so close. My favorite part of the election wasn’t the debates, the campaign ads, or even the things I learned about. It was my ability to vote, and the experience I had on Election Night.
When I received my absentee ballot in the mail, I jumped up and down with excitement, because I could finally vote. This was my first real election, and I was not about to let my chance to vote for my candidate slip away. Even though I don’t live in a swing state, it was still nice to know I cast a vote, and maybe it counted for something.
Though I don’t take my right to vote for granted, it never really sunk in how lucky I am to have this right as a citizen until I got to this program. My roommate is from China, and she was looking at the festivities on Election Night and said to me, “You are so lucky you can vote.”
I never thought how it must feel to come to another country and see young people your age casting their votes and celebrating, when you’re not allowed to do the same. It puts things in perspective, and makes me always want to make sure I take advantage of it, and vote whenever I can.
Being here in D.C. is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity; which is exactly what I said to myself to justify my midnight cab ride to the White House on Election Night. After Obama was declared the victor, the broadcast cut to a live feed in front of the White House, and it looked like such a fun time, I had to go. I hopped in the cab with some friends and watched the patriotism unfold.
As we were pulling up a block away, the car in front of our cab was brandishing an American flag out their window, honking their horn at anyone who cheered. We stepped out into the night and into the madness. Of course, any time a video camera was spotted, a mob around the reporter appeared with screams and chants. And yes, I made sure I ran to all the cameras; I was definitely on a couple channels somewhere.
At the gates of the White House, people were in trees, waving signs, waving flags, and generally being very loud. We got stuck in the throng of people several times, but it was all worth it. Someone would start a rising chorus of the “Star Spangled Banner” or “America the Beautiful,” and soon everyone was singing and cheering.
I took so many pictures so I can always remember the night. My favorite by far is the picture capturing my scream as a man ran up behind me shouting and waving his beer bottle around in the air. I wish I could have captured the sound of the cheering and chanting as we walked away. If you didn’t know what was going on, the added drums made it sound like a war chant was occurring.
Even walking away from the White House, cars going towards it were blaring music and yelling out their windows; I heard Jay- Z’s Iowa rally version of “99 Problems” at least five times. People were cheering at each other from across the street, complete strangers, but all brought together in that one moment. It is truly something I will never forget.