Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

Obama's era: In East Van, a home full of hollering, happy friends

In an East Vancouver home last night, 30 people gathered for one of many U.S. election parties around the city. Everyone who gathered around the TV, drinks in hand, is Canadian or lives here permanently; almost none had watched the recent federal election.

"This is basically the world election," shouted one, in explanation, across the loud din of conversation. "America is the world; anything that happens there affects us. Even more than our own politics." Like second-class citizens in different cultures throughout history, we just don't get to vote in an election whose outcome, arguably more than any other, affects our own present and future.

The woman to my right had hired a babysitter to come here; it's the only time she's done so in recent memory. "Oh my god, you can't miss this!" she shouts emphatically. "It's so exciting, isn't it? I mean the world is going down the toilet because of what's happening in the U.S., and we all really need change. And it's historic. I mean, every election is, but especially this one."

People packed into the living room, on a rainy, dark Vancouver weeknight, mostly 25 to 45 years old. There was more atmosphere there than any weekend party I've been to in recent memory. Someone said he'd heard there were more Canadian house parties going on than the number that had taken place in every federal election combined. I asked where he'd heard that. He laughed then asked if I knew anyone who'd ever gone to a federal election house party.

He said he loves Canada and it's not about that. And he voted in the Canadian election, but didn't get excited about it. "Obama has electrified everyone in both countries," he said. "Probably in all countries. I mean, the guy is amazing!"

"It's the biggest show there is," said another. "It's such a big, big circus. I mean, I know they have bigger media budgets and everything. But here it just happens so quick. You don't even really know who's involved; you don't get to know them in the same way and feel the suspense build."

"Canadian politicians are like the Vancouver weather," said another. "They're kind of grey and rainy and reliable. That's good in some ways, but it's not exciting."

"It's more than that. The federal election was so embarrassing," said a woman on the other side of me. Neither she nor her husband watched it ("Oh no," he said, shaking his head). "At least you can take solace in the fact that no one was watching; not even Canadians," she added. But they and their son came tonight, hoping to see "their" candidate win.

She said she had a dream last night that they had to recount the chads, that someone had found a way to "steal" the election again, like in 2000. "I'm just so relieved, so happy," she said, beaming.

I got there just as McCain finished speaking. People were saying what a good job he'd done, how gracious, how impressive, in fact. "He's not hate-able," was a phrase I heard a few times.

People swarmed the food table, at intermission, waiting for the final act. Then as Obama and his family walked towards the podium, people in the house rushed towards the TV, and started cheering.

The screen flashed to the image of Jesse Jackson, tears running down his cheeks, to other people in the crowd crying. A few minutes into Obama's speech, there were misty eyes and even a few tears in the Vancouver living room.

And more cheers. The loudest of which came after Obama's statement that the victory came from a wide number of groups, including "young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy." Cheers, applause and even some hollers.

Last night, it wasn't a group of politicos dispassionately gathering to watch a foreign country's election. It was a group of people sharing in the celebration of a paradigm shift and feeling part of it. All were certainly aware that the initial euphoria of hope would metamorphose into the reality of day-to-day life, but believed in that moment, that they had a new leader who shares their values, respects them, and wants a bright future.

Find more in:

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus