Oberlin Blogs

Notes on an Election

November 7, 2008

John West ’10

So, yes, I'm eschewing that obligatory hello my name is John. I'm a blogger. I'm really cool. Here's some stuff about me post, at least for the time being. Bios are dreadfully difficult to write, and, though my fellow bloggers have been covering Oberlin's reaction to this latest election pretty darn well, I figured I might as well add my two cents.

While I was, personally, quite happy with the results of Tuesday's election, I should probably approach the election pretty delicately. In fact, I have to approach the election pretty delicately, because my boss told me so (hi, Ben!). So, here's my delicate approach: Oberlin is, sometimes overwhelmingly, a Liberal college. This is the same at most colleges; exit polling showed almost 66% of our generation supported Obama. Couple this with the Leftist swing among college-educated people in general and the long, proud history of Progressive (read Liberal) activism at Oberlin, and you have a recipe for Obamamania here on campus. In short, Liberalism (NB: I don't mean small-l liberalism, as in the political philosophy; I mean Liberalism as in "Obama has the most Liberal voting record in the Senate") is going to be a fact of life at most small liberal-arts colleges, and Oberlin is more Liberal than most.

That said, Oberlin is also home to a very strong and vocal knot of Republicans. This semester, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Libertarian Party Presidential Nominee Bob Barr both spoke to large crowds on campus. Michelle Malkin, the Republican Pundit (she wrote a book whose thesis was that Liberals are "unhinged"), is an Obie grad. And in 2006 I watched the election returns come in with the head of the OC Republicans, who, incidentally won the betting pool that year (of course, we didn't bet money, because that would be illegal...).

And Oberlin's history of political activism applies just as much to the Libertarian and Republican minorities as it does to the Liberals and Democrats (and, while we're at it, outright socialists). You'll find that the OC Republicans meet just as often and make just as much noise as their Democratic counterparts. That's the end of my delicate approach.


After the results came in, and Obama was pushed over 270, I went outside to get some air, you could hear the entire campus yelling. There was a quiet roar, and, even though I was beyond the Northern edge of the College, I could hear the shouts and cheers from the houses and quads and bowls across campus.

Everywhere, people were singing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," and the National Anthem. There were fireworks. Car horns were honking. I was practically bowled over as people I didn't even know gave me bear hugs.

There was an impromptu celebration in Tappan Square (a big park in the middle of the town), complete with fireworks and, inexplicably, nudity. Here's a video of the celebration (no nudity, though):

(There were other, shorter videos, but I enjoyed the loud woo! woo! every time the camera passed a person.)

Crazy, crazy night.

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