Two weeks after Election Day, WVFC is pleased to present a pair of perspectives on this paradigm-shifting election, from baby boomer and WVFC advisory board member Dr. Cecilia Ford and her daughter, 25-yea-old guest blogger Kate White. First, White describes the scene in Chicago's Grant Park on November 4;  tomorrow, Dr. Ford will weigh in on some of the complexities of that same scene for some baby boomers.

I was seventeen years old in 2000 when George W. Bush was  elected, and thus too young to vote in that election.   Not only could I not believe how long it took to come to a resolution, but I was also extremely disappointed by the outcome. I felt the same when he was re–elected in 2004.  This year, in the months leading up to Election Day, I had a sense of doom because  I was convinced that the Republicans would play “tricks,” and that Barack Obama would lose despite the polls indicating he would win.

My sister and I were lucky enough to be in Chicago in Grant Park  election night,  because our father is a longtime aide to Senator Biden. Nearly everyone I encountered  was celebrating early in the night, before the huge projector in the park declared that Obama was the President-elect, but I wouldn’t let my guard down until it was official.  When the announcement was made, I screamed for almost  5 minutes straight.  So did my younger sister and her friend, who are both 22.  I didn’t cry until McCain’s concession speech, which I found incredibly gracious and touching, and I positively balled during Obama’s speech.    I was crying mostly because the candidate I so strongly supported and admired had won, after eight horrible years of the Bush Presidency. 

I think older Americans, many of whom had direct experience with  racism, were crying  because Obama became the first black President.  I believe that for me and my peers, Obama’s race  mattered less in terms of our support for him, than does what he stands for.   Of course we can appreciate the historic nature of his victory but I don’t think it had as much emotional resonance for us as it did for our parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Truly, it was for us  an important election as well.

When I met Obama later that night in the Biden Family and Friends tent, I was still bursting with excitement and intense emotion — I could barely contain myself and don’t remember what I said.  I do remember being surprised by how calm and serious he was at the time—I almost wanted him to be as excited as me.  Afterward, I quickly remembered that it made perfect sense why he was so calm and stoic—he always has been.  He ran such an incredible campaign and was ultimately elected in large part because he is calm under pressure and has the seriousness necessary to lead our nation through what will surely be  some very tumultous years.  And I cried again when I remembered another reason why he seemed so serious and somewhat sad—his grandmother had died the day before.  What a bittersweet night for him and his family, but a purely joyous one for the rest of us at the Park that warm, beautiful night in Chicago.  One I’ll never forget.

— Kate White

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  • Chris L. November 21, 2008 at 11:53 am

    As a member of Generation Jones, I have to confess I’d always thought myself a late boomer: at 46, the tail of the tail of the boom. It’s amusing now to see the concept suddenly in play, as “Jonesies” take the national stage. Not just the new president and his age-similar compatriots but the new wave of Republicans: Sarah Palin, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty. Does that mean that CNN should rename its political show “Keeping Up With the Joneses?”

  • Jennifer Williams November 18, 2008 at 10:16 am

    A related issue is Obama’s membership in Generation Jones (between the Boomers and Generation X). I’ve seen numerous very credible experts emphatically insist that Obama is part of GenJones; if Obama’s generational identity is of interest to you, click this link…it goes to a page filled with lots of articles and videos of famous people discussing Obama’s identity as a GenJoneser, and the many implications of this for his Presidency: