I went home at 4:30am local time, when Pennsylvania and Ohio were called for Obama and it was increasingly clear that McCain was not just going to lose, but was losing in a landslide. Walking home along the lake in the cold November morning, I felt very tired but cheerful - not necessarily elated... but as I came home, my dear lady (who had left the party early and nodded off watching the election coverage on the sofa) told me that CNN had just officially declared Obama the President-Elect.
John McCain gave a remarkably graceful concession speech before a crowd that was visibly reeling between shock and anger that the impossible had happened - enraged bellows were heard as McCain said he had called Obama "to congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country we both love". Buh-buh-but... isn't he a Muslim communist?! Like many others, I felt that the race would have been a much closer one had McCain not pandered to the lunatic base of his party by insinuating that Obama was some kind of strange, radical alien - and nominating a dumb Pentecostal gasbag for VP, of course.
Obama's acceptance speech was tremendous in form and delivery. It allowed even me, a cynical political junkie, to set aside for a few minutes the terrible disappointments, shortcomings, and mistakes that the next four years will undoubtedly bring, and to imagine for a brief moment that change for the better is possible - that the problems we are currently facing can be resolved with intelligence and goodwill, and that as both Abraham Lincoln and Bob Marley have observed:
It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time;
you can even fool some of the people all of the time;
but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
In traditional continental European style, we wrapped up the night in a kebab shop, where the döner jockey announced that Obama was "far too thin" and needed to "get some meat on that skinny frame". By this point, Barack seemed to be getting a little bleary-eyed (he had taken off his glasses, as you can see) and his grin was starting to look unnaturally fixed, so we decided to head home after one more round of beers. Outside, another group of complete strangers (they looked decidedly Middle Eastern) begged him to have their picture taken with him.