Election marks passing of torch to new generation of engaged voters


The night of the electipn, Democrats took to the streets of St. Louis to celebrate a historic victory. On Delmar in The Loop, jubilant supporters honked their horns and partied in the street, stopping cars to scream and wave signs, much in the way St. Louisans celebrate Cardinals’ World Series wins.

At The Pageant, Jay Nixon gave his acceptance speech to a full venue. The Khorassan Room at the Chase Park Plaza was where the big party was taking place.

But the true stars of the night were the supporters and volunteers. Observing all the celebrating at the Khorassan Room, it was hard not to be struck by the palette of people rejoicing as one.

There were people of all colors and ethnicities, of all ages and religions, of all physical abilities and sexual preferences. Strangers of different socio-economic backgrounds who would typically not cross one another’s paths in their daily lives were high-fiving one another, hugging each other, dancing together, and jumping up and down with joy.

As the festivities continued it was apparent that this was a glimpse of the America we always hoped it could be — with no barriers based on demographics but one people, united together in a moment of hope, happiness and accomplishment.

When the news on the jumbo screens announced Barack Obama’s victory, people in attendance were actually crying. When was the last time we saw people crying for joy because of a candidate’s election?

Also stirring was the amount of young people who were reveling with unbridled ecstasy in the fruits of their labor. They were dancing with clear abandon, obviously overjoyed with the outcome of the election. According to Steven Engelhardt, communications director for Congressman William Lacy Clay who was co-chair of the Obama campaign in Missouri, the number of young people who got involved in the election process was unprecedented. And they were out in numbers at the election parties.

It became very clear that celebrants were watching the passing of the torch to a new generation that has stepped up to take the mantle from the activist Baby Boomers. One young man said he personally knocked on 400 doors, worked the phones, handed out literature and did everything he could to help. These young people had unmistakable passion for their candidates and were celebrating as if they had just won the lottery.

The diversity of this victory party seemed like an affirmation of the Jewish values of acceptance, inclusiveness, and openness. And just as Judaism emphasizes the importance and education of the youth, it seemed as though on Tuesday evening those young members of our society knew that now it was up to them to carry on what generations before them had started.

Victoria Siegel is a local freelance writer and a frequent contributor to the St. Louis Jewish Light.