If schadenfreude could be compared to a gourmet meal, last night’s meltdown Mitt Romney’s political ambitions certainly qualifies as a four-star feast at Le Cirque: Romney’s entitled arrogance. The Republican Party’s callous disregard for women, minorities and working people. And the pièce de résistance: President Obama’s electoral win was a landslide rebuke the Romney and the GOP.
So many delicious moments to choose from—Romney’s initial reluctance to concede to Donald Trump’s epic Twitter rant. But one of the most memorable events from the 2012 election was not broadcast to millions. It was a brief, personal exchange with a neighbor in my polling station in Chicago’s Logan Square that crystallized the promise of Barack Obama’s America.
Unfortunately the polling station was not easily accessible by the disabled. An older White man was trying to navigate a walker through the aisles of voting booths. No easy task with the mass of cables and wires running between the booths.
“I can help you,” I said. “I don’t want you to trip on the cords.”
“You do that?” he asked in a thick Slavic accent, probably Polish or Lithuanian. “Thank you! I’m sorry to be a bother,” he said to no one in particular. “I just love our President Mr. Obama and I wanted to make my vote count.”
At that moment everyone in polling station—almost all Latinos, one or two Blacks such as myself—looked at him. Many people began smiling, Most of us—myself definitely included—assumed the older white man who immigrated from Eastern Europe would surely be a Republican. One of the older Puerto Rican women that I recognized from the bodega came over. “I’ll help you, too,” she said gently as we guided him to the exit.
As we exited the polling station, the man turned around and gestured at the three of us. “Thank you. Mr. Obama would like this. That’s why he has my vote. He brings people like us together.”