When I watched the MSNBC electoral map turn blue on Tuesday night, I was elated. When John McCain gave his concession speech, I was moved. And when Barack Obama addressed the crowd in Grant Park, and us, on our couches across America, I was overwhelmed.
But nothing that evening held such power for me as seeing Jesse Jackson's tears. It's impossible to know the totality of the feelings behind his tears; were they joy, mixed with envy, sadness, disbelief, and hope? Were they the release of a lifetime of frustration and anger? Perhaps they were filled with regret for things he said about Obama along the way. Sometimes you just don't know how you are going to feel about something until it actually happens.
I certainly didn't know how I was going to feel. I didn't vote for Obama because he was a black man, but I became proud of our nation that he is. I didn't vote for him because I thought he would change the world but now I believe we, the people, have the power to. And I didn't vote for him because he gave good speeches, but now I realize how much they inspired me, not to see the good in him, but to see the good in me.
As I watched Tucker Carlson the following morning going on and on about how upset he is with the media for gleaning anything historic from the result, I thought that Jesse Jackson's tears were probably also mixed with the worry that some things never change.