So I usually hate when people send out these dopey mass emails and just BCC everyone. But so many people keep asking me what it was like to be there, and instead of trying to retell the story 30 times, I figured this would be easier, and BCC'ing you all would save everyone the trouble of a string of Reply All's in their inbox with (half) witty responses.
Let me start by saying that no matter how hard I try to put it into words, I don't think I can really truly describe what it was like to be there. Calling it 'historic,' or saying that it was a 'once-in-a-lifetime event,' is to make a cliché out of it.
We started the night in Jon's parent's hotel room on Michigan Ave, a short cab ride away from Grant Park, so we could watch the results live. Jon was obviously still at the office at this point, and the plan was to meet him at the park as soon as we knew the outcome. So there we all sat, (myself, Hawkes, Megan, Andy Favs, and Mark and Lil) starting at around 6:00 central time, freaking out over every single percentage point swing in every battleground state. After flipping from CNN, to MSNBC, to Fox, and back again, we settled in on CNN, since they had the most clear, logical graphics and stuck mainly with the states that mattered (i.e., where real Americans live. Thank you Sarah Palin). As the percentage points sometimes would take 10+% swings, we had to continually remind ourselves that with "<1% reporting", that was bound to happen. It didn't really work that well. We were a nervous wreck.
At around 7:00 central time, Jon sent me an email that just said, "PA!!!!" and we saw the margin of victory (55-44) for Pennsylvania's 21 electoral votes, and started to realize that this was really about to happen. About an hour later, Jon sent a "you guys should start walking down if you're not there yet," email, but none of us could comfortably leave the hotel room without knowing for sure that it was over. A few minutes later (after one false alarm from Fox), Ohio was in the bag and the race was, for all intents and purposes, over. After a room full of screams and bear hugs, we made our way down to grab cabs and head to Grant Park.
A few minutes later, I got this email, which I'll probably print out and save for the rest of my life. In five words, he said exactly what an entire nation, and a good part of the world, was feeling the moment they heard the news. (That's probably why he writes speeches for a living):
From: Jon Favreau [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, November 04, 2008 10:06 PM
To: Porter, Josh
Oh my god
Sent from my wireless handheld device, a miracle made possible by John McCain
Jon had gotten us "Headquarters" credentials, (which he probably shouldn't have done, since none of us are really mature enough to handle carrying such a coveted ticket. Quote of the night from Andy: "I'm probably not even talking to anyone who doesn't have a credential tonight") so after passing through a pretty intensive security screening, we had access to the area right in front of the podium, in front of all the (couple hundred) press cameras. Again, I can't even describe the energy in the park, and the buzz in the crowd. You saw it on TV.
At that point, Jon and Tommy came over from headquarters and met us, and a few minutes later CNN finally made the call. On the screen next to the podium where Barack Obama was about to speak, it read 'PROJECTED WINNER: BARACK OBAMA.' As we all jumped around and hugged random strangers, you could hear a million people in Grant Park scream and let out a collective sigh of relief.
I won't get too much into the speech. You all watched it. It was amazing. And if you didn't have tears in your eyes as he spoke, then you're probably the type of person who also hates puppies and/or babies. I know from where we were all standing there wasn't a dry eye in the house. To be able to stand next to my best friend who wrote the speech that was probably moving a billion people around the globe to tears was something I'll never be able to put into context. I'll leave it at that.
WARNING, I'M ABOUT TO GET PARTISAN. IF YOU'D RATHER NOT READ A SHORT POLITICAL RANT, FEEL FREE TO SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH!! Regardless of who you voted for Tuesday night, I think it was impossible not to get emotional as Barack spoke. This was a win for America. Men, women, and children all around the world were waving American flags and cheering. There were a million people in a park in Chicago at midnight on a Tuesday to watch a politician speak, and most of them were moved to tears. Little kids were begging to stay up past their bedtime to watch this. Mothers and fathers brought their infant children to see this, so they could tell them they were there once they're finally old enough to understand what happened. A generation of people who never really cared about politics now care. My 16 year old cousin was sending me text messages about electoral votes. If you don't think that's important, then I don't know what to tell you. On Wednesday morning, our standing and our image around the globe was significantly better off than it was on Monday morning. That's important. If you have to pay a higher marginal tax rate on your income over $250k a year, or on your dividends or capital gains or inheritance because of this, then I'm sorry. But I'm guessing you won't be pinching pennies or eating Ramen noodles to survive any time soon.
Once the speech was over, we all made our way over to the Underground for the afterparty. No, Barack Obama wasn't there. Turns out the President Elect has more important things to do than down Jaeger bombs with reporters, campaign staffers- who all looked like the weight of a 20 month campaign, and the expectations of a country, were finally off their back- and campaign groupies (i.e., myself, Hawkes, wil.i.am, Forrest Whitaker, Amarosa (like, really?), Common, DJ Cassidy, et al). The after-after party was held back at Jon and Tommy's house at 1724 N. Cleveland Ave. From the pictures I sent around, you can all guess how that went.
If you missed the pictures, let me know and I'll resend.