Seattle, Washington Who the Hell Do You Think I’m Voting For?

I got locked out of a parking garage after hours the other day. Melissa and I had to go down the block to find a cashier at a neighboring garage who could give us the key to get out. The guy was reading Dreams from My Father. He spoke in accented English. If I had to guess, given Seattle’s ethnic makeup, I’d say he was from Ethiopia.

I commented on the book. He said nothing, but he got a big smile on his face.

At the risk of sounding puerile, I keep thinking about what this time we’re in must mean to a guy in his situation. A great promise is on the verge of deliverance — one that few expected to see in their lifetime.

After so many years of lowered expectations and reinforced cynicism, it’s a humbling reminder of what’s possible.

And after so many months of reducing the significance of this candidacy and this candidate, here we are.

Step back. Take it in.

As for what it means to me: I believe it forwards the central narrative of this country as much as anything in my lifetime. It brings our best and worst qualities to the surface, forcing us to examine. It speaks to the very first words ever written to define us and what separates us from all that came before. It takes a half-truth; that we believe ourselves equal to one another, and renders it, at the very least, three-quarters true.

I’m nervous about what’ll happen tomorrow, but very hopeful. As a traveler, I’m looking forward to identifying my nationality without feeling like I should apologize for it. As a citizen, I’m looking forward to a renewal — even a fleeting one — of this bruised and battered system.

36 Responses to Seattle, Washington Who the Hell Do You Think I’m Voting For?

  1. Dear Matt~

    As a Seattlite in Dubai, I have to say that I am so glad that for us, Tuesday is coming to an end and I’ll be able to sleep through most of the waiting because the suspense is killing me. I’ve had to explain over and over again to people from every part of the world (Dubai, you know) that no, I don’t understand the GOP VP choice either, and yes, that I think Americans understand, at least at some level, what an amazing historical chance and time this is.

    And now I’m going to go have a beer.

    Please do dance in the White House with Obama.

  2. Vinnie

    This is just one more example about how not “color blind” we are as a nation. I truly do realize what a momentous occasion this is. And it is a huge step in a direction of full acceptance of what an individual has to offer regardless of color, gender or personal belief. With that being said…. Throughout this campaign, when I have said anything against Obama, I was called a racist. Heaven knows what will be said about me if I even think to criticize any of the decisions our new commander in chief will make over the next four years. I am judging him on his credits and experiences. And if he does something I don’t personally approve of, I will say something. I hope the other person listening will be able to listen to me and not call me a bigot. Let’s leave the race card out of this and focus on what really matters. Besides, isn’t he also half white? Why doesn’t anyone say anything about that? (sounds silly, doesn’t it?)

  3. Davis

    As a non-American, I’d like to ask:

    Is it just me or does the American flag look different to anyone else today?

    Congratulations, and here’s hoping that the next 4+ years live up to a good deal of the hope and promise that have taken hold.

  4. Ed

    As a US citizen, the flag still looks as good to me as yesterday: a little outdated, terribly stained, and badly shreaded by experience.
    I am proud and relieved so many of my countrymen also saw it that way and, Yes, We Can make it look so much better in the coming years.

  5. I completely agree with your comment at the end of “I’m looking forward to identifying my nationality without feeling like I should apologize for it.” My family and I went to Nandi, Fiji about 4 years ago and after saying we were from America the first time we were asked, and basically being looked at as if we were the scum of the earth we decided to say we were from Canada. It was ridiculous and we were so ashamed. I am so excited to beable to say I am from America and be proud.

  6. Dave

    As a traveler (not quite as much as you though…), I’m thrilled. I really think that we redeemed ourselves in the eyes of the world yesterday. I am so happy that I will no longer have to be embarassed to admit where I am from. Hopefully someday, maybe soon, we can forget about the last 8 years and join the rest of the world.

  7. Rich

    I’ll come out and say it, I voted for Nader out of frustration. I like Obama, but the guy is a socialist and I believe in capitalism. The one redeeming thing about having him is that our reputation in other parts of the world will be greatly improved. I remember the change in Europe when I was 12, when I was 20, when I was 30, in the last 5 years. Yes, it’s been tough. However, I kind of see the general world population a bit like the Youtube crowd. A bunch of followers. People should judge each person as an individual. How silly is it that people will now like me much more overseas because we have a different president. Am I a different person… no. Stupid.

  8. I cried for Obama’s victory the same way I cried for the inclusiveness of your Dancing videos. His victory has given me the same optimism for the world that your videos did.

    I think I’m on a roll.

  9. Tee

    OMG!! Your video was just on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart edited with people all over the world dancing after Obama’s annoncement!!
    How cool!!

  10. Radha

    Matt, The presidential election was amazing! And then, the global celebration for Obama’s victory was mixed in with your video on the Daily Show- so cool! Check it out, it’s in the first 15 min of the Nov 6 episode. Congrats! Maybe your next video is a yes-we-can dancing vid already in the works?

  11. Joyce

    I am so proud to be an American right now. And it is so great how the whole world is reacting so positively to Obama’s presidency. Hope reigns.

    BTW, you were fabulous on The Daily Show tonight!

  12. Rosemarie

    I am so excited, and proud of our country for getting it right!!!!! I am full of hope for this great country. Not only has the President Elect brought this country together, look at the global acceptance, what a great headstart. President Barack Obama, IMAGINE!!!

  13. Thanks for helping me appear on The Daily Show. I mean, sure it’s only a few microseconds, and even I can’t pick myself out of the crowd, but I’m there! Heh.

    I’m pretty darn excited about this whole thing. While I can’t point back to a post from 2005 for my support, I’ve been a big supporter for the past year. I was lucky enough to see him in person pretty close up outside Key Arena, even though I wasn’t able to get inside. The excitement around the caucuses the following day was a very good thing.

    I knew I was excited, I knew he was almost certainly going to win, and still, when it came up on the TV screen I got teary eyed and emotional. Such a great time for our country, and the view of our country throughout the world.

    Now to get on that 22nd amendment thing…

  14. To a couple comments before: I disagree that Obama is a socialist.
    Being someone who is struggling to make ends meet, I am really looking forward to having a chance at some decent health care. I don’t care how other people perceive me for being an American because I see corporate America endorsed everywhere. I love my fellow Americans and now under this leader, we have a real chance to help each other. Doesn’t matter that he’s black. Does matter that when he speaks he inspires people to be passionate about change. Yes we can :)

  15. How can I add to the discourse and analysis of what has happened? Just days ago I was one of the cynical masses, hoping, praying for the people to make the right choice but at the same time concerned that the populace had been dumbed-down too much by the media, myopic nationalism, and the toil of daily life.

    But now, I am different, everything is different, and I feel compelled to act, to help, to rejoice, to scream “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!” It is unfamiliar territory to a citizen and traveler, but I hope I can always work for the ideals that propelled us to this day.

    As for you Matt, your voice I believe was part of this, don’t you think? Just a scene perhaps, but the feelings your videos squeeze out of us, your viewers, feels the same. There is a chance for a better future together, and let’s all dance there, shall we?

    I look forward to seeing your perspective on what has taken place…enjoy enjoy.

    Rhode Island, USA

  16. Phil

    I wouldn’t get your hopes up. In the UK we’ve seen all of this before. When Tony Blair was elected in 1997 on a change platform we had such high hopes for the future. Instead he saddled the country with debt and invaded two countries (whilst ignoring Zimbabwe). The problem with Obama is he asks you to vote for change but you most people don’t know what that entails. I also have a problem with the slogan “Change we need,” presumably it is your education system that needs change as your future president speaks like Yoda. It should be “We need change.”

  17. Kelly

    Make the site work again, k? Thanks. :-)

    Last I saw, you and your clone had split up, with one of you apparently beaming up to Orcas and the other staying behind in Seattle.

  18. Well, we missed on content of character.

    I guess black skin will have to do.

    I just don’t see a communist as president a good idea.

    But then, I’m a clingy hater.

  19. hello,and sorry but i don’t speak goog english…
    i try long time to come here,because i want said thank you to matt for the wonderfull video 2008..
    every day i look and i listen..
    i take it in my blog to listen my friend visit me
    my favorite people:india and papou !!
    a thousand thnak you for this happyness…

  20. Laurie

    While it may not be appropriate for Matt to dance with Barack or Michelle Obama, perhaps his daughters, Malia and Sasha, could be in the first scene (D.C.), followed by Obama’s extended family and friends – from Hawaii to Kansas to Kenya to Indonesia and beyond.

    If only Matt could be shown dancing with world leaders, too … now THAT would be something. For now, it is good to revisit this site often, watch the joy, and look forward to “the next dance.”

  21. Sandy

    So why don;t you marry Melissa?? You just like having sex with her and no committment?? MARRY HER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Lieve

    Dear Sandy (and some Janet that’s losing her sleep over the same matter),

    Has it ever occurred to you that maybe Melissa might want to have a say in this?
    (Of course, if you are a personal acquaintance and confidant, and know that Melissa’s dying to get married and feels mistaken for a satisfaction-factory, please consider this question answered.)

    And is it possible for you to conceive the idea that people might truly love each other and be committed to each other without feeling a profound guilt or a deep distress that can only be relieved by running off to a church?

    And may I ask you to elaborate on the deeper motivation of your urgent need to press people into marriage?

    I wish you many happy discoveries, it’s a large world after all!

  23. Laura

    Here Here!

    People think I’m off my rocker when I tell them people look at the US more with pity than admiration. I lived in Canada for nine years, during which time I found so many different responses to “No, I’m not from here. I’m an American” and was so shocked to find so many were negative.

    I am so jealous of your fantastic travels and and cannot wait to begin my own. One day. :) Since the day he won, I have to say that I have been the most excited that now when I so proudly announce that I am an American, there will be a glimmer of understanding in the responding smile.

    Btw! I love the dancing. It made me smile to everyone joining in! That is the most amazing video I have ever seen! I am not sure if you answer any of your comments very often but the one question that stood out for me was, what was your favorite place?

    Ha ha. I never thought that I would be able to ask anyone, what their favorite place in the world is and actually mean the World!

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventures and I will be watching for the next one! Dance like no one’s watching, eh! 😉

    Have a fantastic night and very happy holidays!

  24. Kaitlin

    You know, most travelers that I meet have experienced a certain level of embarrassment that accompanies the word “American”. I’m not saying it’s right – I love my country for many different reasons – but it is true. And for the first time in a long time, I am proud to see our country growing, learning, and evolving. I feel like we’ve been on Pause for too many years. Anyways, this is all just to say “yeah, I’m tired of apologizing, too.”

  25. Angela

    Everyone happy now? Did the world change and universally love us? No. Is the world taking advantage of a bunch of snotnosed weak kneed citizens who have never known true hardship to guilt us into giving away much of what made this country great? Yes. I admit to having bought it hook line and sinker. Now I realize that this “hope” line was garbage, it was just a power grab.

    If you depend on the views of others for fullfillment, you’ll never find what you seek. This country and its “ruined” healthcare system spurred most of the innovation that those who hate us directly benefit from.

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