A crowd of 400 Islanders came together for a raucous election night party held in the cavernous warehouse now housing the “O” performance space.
The party, organized as a benefit for Vashon’s Backbone Campaign, began at 7 p.m. as Islanders converged to watch two big screen projections of television election coverage, listen to a lineup of Island bands and share in the excitement of the historic night.
The event was a family affair, with a kids’ activity center featuring a pint-sized voting booth, a face-painting station and a table where children composed postcards to send to the new U.S. president.
And at 8 p.m., a roar erupted as the networks reported that Barack Obama had passed the electoral vote threshold to become the 44th president of the United States.
A jubilant pandemonium overtook the throng of Islanders, as friends, families, neighbors and strangers cheered, wept, hugged each other and jumped up and down.
Bill Moyer, executive director of the politically progressive Backbone Campaign, was in the thick of the celebration, and when he took the stage a few moments later to announce that Christine Gregoire had been re-elected as governor, another collective cheer rose from the crowd. Moyer went on to give a fiery speech urging Obama supporters to continue to work for progressive causes.
The next day, he recalled the event.
“It’s a moment a lot of us are going to remember for the rest of our lives,” Moyer said. “It was great to have the kids there as well, so they could all see our relief and joy and cathartic enthusiasm.”
Moyer cautioned, however, that his “biggest fear is that people will interpret Barack Obama’s victory as a signal to head back to their couches and their remote controls.”
“The way we blow this now is by pretending the struggle is over,” he said. “We are now responsible for creating the political elbow room to allow our best politicians to do their best. It’s up to ‘we the people’ to define and propel a mandate for change.”
Moyer emphasized that the Backbone Campaign will be busier than ever working on a grassroots and national level to champion a progressive approach to issues surrounding democracy, international relations, economic justice, ecology and sustainability.
Moyer is also planning to take the Campaign’s message and its giant puppets to Washington D.C. in the days immediately before, during and after Obama’s inauguration.
A musical fundraiser for the trip will be held 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, at Red Bicycle Bistro & Sushi, featuring a host of Island musicians who will take the stage to play the music of the Rolling Stones.
The benefit, appropriately enough, is called “Start Me Up.”
The next meeting of the Backbone Brigade will meet 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17, at the Sheffield Building. The agenda will include plans for the Campaign’s trip to Washington, D.C.