Reading the news today has been like reading the headlines after your team pulls the biggest upset in 25 years. After that win, scorn and ridicule quickly turn to gratitude and praise. There is such joy and relief in that one win that you read every story you can find. That is where I have been today.
These are some of the headlines:
Thank you, Alabama
Thanks to Alabama’s women, African Americans and decent people for defeating Roy Moore
Thank heaven for…Alabama?
There were quotes from the New York Times that I want to cut out and put in a scrapbook.
“Thanks to Alabama, Americans can wake up Wednesday morning feeling hopeful about the decency and dignity of their democracy.”
“But maybe, maybe just maybe, the narrow majority in Alabama has sent both Trump and the country a message. We are fed up with your cynicism, we are fed up with your effort to break us into tribes, we want a president who is a uniter not a divider, because we have big hard work to do as a country right now — and it can only be done together.”
People around the world may be thankful for how we voted in Alabama, but they didn’t see that we did it with joy and excitement. We knew we were a part of something historic, something only we could do right now. It was our time. People hugged in the parking lots of their polling locations and volunteers gave out bottled water and snacks. There were “thank you for voting” signs from high school political clubs and sign up lists for people who want to get politically involved. I realized that the predictions of a Moore victory could be wrong when I met Brendon Cooke as he walked out of St. Joan of Arc in Mobile with a smile as big as his hair. He said, “This has been my polling place for the last five years. There is usually a low turnout but this time it is a large turnout of black folks and queer folks and it is so promising to me. I have some hope.”
Hope. The best part of yesterday was messages of hope from black friends with exclamation points and smiley faces because their votes mattered.
Yesterday was significant and historic and one we should be proud of. Strange that it was almost exactly a year ago today Donald Trump brought his victory tour to Ladd-Stadium in Mobile. Under a cedar Christmas tree cut down from a city park, Trump, Kellyanne Conway and Jeff Sessions celebrated his election. The newly-elected President owed Mobile a thank you because the rally at the stadium in August 2015 was the turning point in his campaign. It was the start of the “Alabamafication of America” and when the state stepped into the political spotlight.
It feels good to be the hero and finally on the winning side of history. Have we changed in the 362 days since the Trump rally or was this election a “fluke” as Winston Groom said today in an interview with OnPoint on NPR.
I don’t think it is a fluke because I have watched the changes in Alabama, especially Mobile, the last five years and state politics is far behind the progress being made by the people. From music, art and food to the revitalization of downtowns, Alabama is changing. We are finding our own ways to pull and push her out of the past because we care too much to leave her behind.
There were many good quotes today but this is the one that made me cry.
“But Democrats are the bigger victors. Scratch that: Americans are. If Alabama isn’t beyond redemption, then the country isn’t, either. To use a word that Moore would appreciate: hallelujah.”
After redemption comes revival. Maybe the revival has already begun in Alabama.