Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Crossposted to Daily Kos

Because of the time difference, it has been the day after, much longer here in Japan than it is back in the States. When most Americans went to bed after Obama's acceptance speech (or, perhaps, continued checking the blogosphere all night long), those of us living in Japan, well, went straight back to work, or retreated onto limited express trains back to our homes across Japan, so we can get back to work. Much is to be done the moment after Election Day.

But let's enjoy the victory, first. Here are some pictures of the Democrats Abroad election watch party in Osaka, Japan earlier today. It starts, of course, with a picture of me (because I'm still single, people).

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I live about two hours from Osaka, so I've never been to The Blarney Stone. It is not merely the regular meeting place for Democrats Abroad-Kansai. If you go to Osaka, do stop by there. They seem to have a regular crowd of Americans and other English-speaking foreigners (and theirs is the best burger I've had in Japan so far). Doors opened at 10AM (8PM ET), with a small news crew from NHK waiting for party to start.

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If you must know, we do not get a live stream of MSNBC here in Japan, so we settled for CNN. Honestly, I thought the hologram thing was cool, even though there is absolutely no reason to ever use it again.

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There were at least fifteen diehards who watched the election coverage since the doors opened. The real party wouldn't start until 11:30AM or so, when most of the spectators would arrive to watch most of the states come in and decide the election. In the meantime, there were plenty of balloons to inflate and buttons to pass around. (I got to purchase a genuine "Thatone08" button, which you saw in the intro)

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One of the great things about Japan (or the worst, depending on what you believe) is that you're never disconnected from the Internet. I ran up the web usage charges on my cell phone, checking Political Wire and Drudge during every commercial break. Meanwhile, I spotted at least three laptops connected via wireless, while the bar itself had a computer that was refreshing all the major electoral trackers we could think of.

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Here's a lovely couple I've had the pleasure of chatting with all night (morning) long. Shirley is a language teacher, whom I actually met in Tokyo not two days before for a language education conference. She told me of her daughter, who lives presently in New York but had sworn to move out of the country had McCain won. Shirley's husband was, of course, one of the many Japanese who were genuinely excited, almost as excited as us Democrats, about Obama and the election. As I write this, television is showing pictures of a rally in Obama City (the namesake of the President-elect), with dozens of hula dancers chanting "I love Obama." Why they're hula dancing, I don't know.

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I made friends with this fellow Obama supporter, who was poring over the websites as returns came in. He's a very good guy, and he'd be cool to have a beer with, I think. He did, though, insist on keeping the monitor on Huffington Post, which, if you close in on the picture above, has the title of "PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA." Which is perhaps fine, except that, at that moment, California had yet to close its polls, and none of the networks or the major, neutral electoral trackers online had declared either candidate earning 270 electoral votes. Call me superstitious.

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Just an awesome T-shirt.

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On my way to the pool table, to see if anyone was interested in a quick round, another couple spotted me, wearing my Young Democrats of Richmond County T-shirt, asking if I was from Staten Island. As it turns out, Keiko (left) and David (right) live in Bay Ridge, just across the Verrazano in Brooklyn, NY, and are visiting her family in Japan for the week. Like me, they, too, are interested in the results of NY-13 (which Democrat Mike McMahon won convincingly to turn the Island blue for the first time since forever). Of course, the Presidential election caught most of our collective interests.

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As the returns kept coming in, more people flooded the small bar, and with balloons all over the floor, it was getting more and more difficult to move around. Better than an empty event, of course.

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As Ohio went to Obama, I started counting what states would be necessary to get to 270. 11PM ET would be a nice, round time to declare a winner when California closed its polls. When Virginia turned blue, just shortly before then according to CNN, the march to the top of the hour turned into a countdown, much like New Year's Eve:



The rest, then, is history.

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I left shortly after Obama's speech (I did come back to pick up my American flag, but I was running the whole time), because I have to work in the morning, and I preferred the comfort of my apartment to do my blogging. All in all, a great day for the Democrats and all Americans, whether they're in America, in Japan, or in another far-flung area in the world.

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