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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

A night at the Democratic and Republican election parties

< the curb, down the sidewalk, through the front doors, into the lobby, up the escalators, through two more lobbies and finally into the enormous media packed ballroom, a group of 60 Carleton students pushed their way through the masses of ecstatic democrats. Strangers were hugging, grown men were balling and a group of drunken 20-somethings was dancing to the uplifting beats of Bruce Springsteen and U2. This was the scene we happened upon as we entered the Democratic Party on Tuesday night at the moment that the television screens flashed the text "OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT."

For many of the students on the trip, this was the first time that they had the chance to contribute to the bigger picture. The freshmen were just newly 18 and had never voted for any seat in government. For the rest of us between the ages of 19-21, this was our first presidential election and the results were in and they were exciting. This fact was not overlooked by anyone that night, even as we entered the ballroom, above the noise of the cheering, a grey haired middle-aged man looked over, grabbed our shoulders and said, “This is because of you; it was the young people that made this happen.” It was as if he was saying, “in case you were doubtful, the vote you cast this morning actually did count for something.”

The cheers that ensued after his comment drove us to push farther towards the front of the crowd and the more people we squeezed past the crazier they got. Greg, a 6’5” man in a trench coat and cowboy hat was dancing with the young 20-somethings from the University of Minnesota. A group of African-American women in traditional African garb were singing along to Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.” The room was uncontrollably bustling as news cameras captured the insanity and displayed it on projection screens around the room.

It was only during the speeches that the room came to a dead silence. Even during McCain’s speech people respectfully fell silent and clapped after certain phrases. But it was the appearance of Obama on the big screens and his words that really got the room humming. People were in tears at the mention of Ann Nixon, the woman that we all want to be someday so that the next Barack Obama talks about us in his victory speech. People cheered at the mention of a puppy for his daughters and at the mention of gays, hispanics, disabled and the many other minority and majority groups he mentioned specifically.

Although I am an inexperienced judge of presidential speeches, I found the speech to be phenomenal. It’s possible that it was in part to the environment in which I listened to it, but it still seemed to make people stand up and listen. It was only two hours before that we had been standing in a similar ballroom at the Republican Party and felt bored and unmotivated. There was no excitement; there were no young people to relate to. There was a crowd, but it was smaller, older and much more somber.

The clear difference between the two events was their reaction to us. Instead of someone thanking us for making a difference, when a group of Carleton students first entered the ballroom, a similar middle-aged man with a dark suit and grey hair looked at the 20 year old democrats and said “Wow, it is good to finally see some young republicans.”

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