Packing my laptop and calculus work, I went over to her house only to find that by "a couple of friends" she actually meant more than 30 people packed inside her living room, sharing chips, munching on chocolate, and chatting in front of the TV. I immediately regretted attending. The TV was turned up to full volume, but I could not hear a thing. All I could gather from CNN were the flashing percentages and red-and-blue colored maps. Was that Hagan speaking? What were the analysts projecting for Virginia? These questions could only be answered by my imagination.
Sure, everyone faced toward the TV, but hardly anyone's eyes were on CNN. Most people were gathered around individual laptops, watching online videos - JibJab's "It's Time for Some Campaigning," the Obama-McCain Dance-off, Will.I.Am's songs of Obama. I settled near the dining room table where I could still have a decent view of the TV if I craned my neck and opened up my laptop, returning to calculus and streaming CNN.com live.
"OBAMA WON!!!!" someone screamed, the voice carrying multiple exclamation marks. On my computer, CNN.com had only streamed that Obama was the projected winner of Virginia. I thought that was what all the ruckus was about until I looked up to see the TV - and the room - erupting into cheers.
Erupting. I don't know how else to describe the scene. One second, people were just chatting with one another, the next second, everyone was on their feet, screaming at the top of their lungs, hugging one another, and bursting into tears.
Earlier, I took an unofficial and unscientific poll of the assembled teens at the party. Most people could not tell me why they supported Obama except for the fact that the other choice was McCain and he was old and funny-looking while "Obama's hot," as one girl told me. Yes, there was a lot of hype and participation from the youth in this election, but the majority of the teens seem to support Obama for the sake of supporting him. There's no denying that, for this election, it's cool to have a strong political opinion. It's cool to bash John McCain and to groan whenever Sarah Palin's name is mentioned. I wish I kept a tally of the number of times I've heard, "If McCain's elected president, I am moving to Canada."
I'm torn over what to feel about this. When Obama's win was announced, there was emotion - real emotion - in everyone. There were no theatrics. I think a lot of teens have come to worship Obama himself. His policies are good policies because his name is Barack Obama, he has a wonderful way of speaking, he has cool YouTube videos, and if the policies have his name attached to them, then, hell, they must be good.
But maybe it's unfair to say that most teens celebrate Obama blindly. Many of my friends are certainly very politically astute. Many of them support Obama not because it's cool to do so (especially in California), but because they support something for which he stands. (I also have a few Republican and Independent friends who really have to fight for their opinions here, where the atmosphere is so staunchly Liberal.)
But then I looked back to the room, where a girl was screaming, "Whoo! Obama, take off your shirt!" and a guy punched his buddy on his shoulder and said, "Man, Michelle's gonna make one good-looking First Lady."
To be fair, I don't think this election ignorance is limited to teens. I've heard adults say some of the most unbelievable things, and I've heard them falter when asked to support their strong opinions about either candidate. I guess the only conclusion I can make from my observations is something that's been observed for months - Obama's campaign was very, very good at reaching out to the youth in this nation.
I'm so happy that not only is our new Senate now overwhelmingly Democratic but our 44th President of the United States will be Barack Obama. As a person who only recently attained her citizenship, I really am proud to say I'm an American.
Maria Shen, reporting on Generation Y, is a senior at Monte Vista High School. She founded Contra Costa County's Young Bohemians creative writing club and is editor of Voicebox, a literary magazine. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.