Once the polls closed on November the 4th, 2008 the night became a stage upon which many individuals came together and shared an idea. It was no longer about race or class, gender or ethnicity, sexuality or age – those variables and many others too – social scientists, politicians and the media use to paint representations of the world we live in. The bodies on the street, the many faces dancing inside their own white house, embracing each other, sharing magic were souls holding the same idea. An idea that made us all family, and that’s what it felt like on the road, like we were all fictive kin. A momentary solidarity. Tangible. Tactile. Real. A solidarity stretching beyond the streets into other countries and towns. Perhaps this idea – change – might be a little hard to define, articulate and give material presence to; but as I moved amongst thousands until the wee hours of the morning we all became more than strangers to each other, we now shared a dream. To hold it inside oneself meant recognising each other as kin. We understood how and why solidarities can and should always be made. There is nothing more terrifying to those in power than the mobilisation of people, together, as one, as family (and I don’t want to borrow the label ‘mob’ to make this point because this was more than a mob).
The anthropology of this fascinates me, its why I do so much work on festivals and carnivals, powwows and football crowds – I love to breath humanity experienced together. Within such socio-cultural forms I believe exists the greatest power - bigger than weapons, the dialectic, religion or capital. The cliché of 'divide and conquer,' is for me personally the root of all the worlds inequalities. Seeing ourselves in each other is a rare glimpse of another world.
For a long time I worried about the spontaneity of people in the US, outside of the contrived and regulated, outside the carnivals that become parades and the sporting triumphs tied to neoliberal economics, I believed this soul, this way of being in the world no longer existed. Last night out on the streets of Washington, DC I saw I was wrong. Those worries were misplaced. There is optimism all around, and while it might have been hibernating and out of sight for a while it returned in a wave of humanity from all corners of the quadrant. For this to happen in DC of all places, a normally staid and low key city, speaks volumes by itself. However, its not just about DC, its about how the idea, the idea we share, makes all of us fictive kin. Makes everyone who cares, who invests their own hopes in the election, it makes every last one of us family. Thats what i felt last night. Thats what i'll always remember...when strangers became family.