The First Coming

by Zachary Gottlieb | 11/7/08 4:39am

There were thousands of us, celebrating the arrival of our salvation and Hope. The politically meek came to celebrate inheriting the Earth en masse. I even sang a Lord-praising hymn. And as I watched a group of people revel in the deliverance of the messianic politician, I was pretty sure that it was going to be my best Christmas ever.

As a Jew, the election was by far the closest thing I'll ever get to a snowy Noelle. Allow me, in my excitement, to ignore the literal religious differences between November 2008 and December 0 AD. And because of the significance of this election, I'll manage to shy away from parody -- it was actually moving.

Christmas is an annual holiday that I slowly watch steal more and more into American mass culture, starting when five pieces of turkey and two sides of mashed potatoes somehow feed thousands for the days after Thanksgiving. Then Christmas specials come on, and even though most of the writers are Jewish, I can't shake the feeling that my religion missed the boat on the joys of religious commercialism. Bette Midler is not a fair trade for "It's a Wonderful Life."

Like Christmas, for Election Day everyone gets excited way too early, and the actual day seems to come as a relief for those who have been energized for so long. This election process began two years ago, and it'll take at least a week or two to get it out of our heads. What do I do with this tree, err, Obama sign? Do I put it in the attic for 2012 or just get a new one then? And just as Christmas morning comes and goes, so has Election Day.

Tuesday night's exodus to the Green resonated with myriad Biblical tones, as if three Kings became 300, cheering for the postpartum Mary, "Yes We Did." It was, without a doubt, the most religious event I've seen on campus. Lest you think I'm implying that Obama's omniscient, I suggest that this religious event was a matter of faith finally fulfilled. And as for his omnipotence, well, we do have over 10,000 warheads. Let's hope he's not a wrathful God -- slow to forgive, quick to anger.

But alas! Who is stuck eating Chinese food this Christmas while I revel in a nationwide celebration? Foreign students! Yes, foreign students, now you can empathize -- consider yourselves the Jews on Election Day. And someone will undoubtedly say, "But I mean, you still get a parliamentary system. Like, Christmas is good, but don't you get, like, a new party representative every night for eight nights?" We lionize the leader of the political world, while you look up movie times. Sucks for you, new Jews. At least you get to run the (international) media.

To your credit, however, this is the ultimate immigrant story; Obama represents the new paradigmatic American. If this holds true, American identity has now shifted from an Anglo-centric view to the true "melting pot" ideology we've strived for. And that's something you new Jews do join, just as all Americans participate in spreading the national Christmas spirit of generosity and forgiveness.

What we had on Tuesday was not only another milestone in American history, but in world history as well. People will begin counting from this presidency as a historical marker for a great change in the way we see the world. But with this messiah (Jews are still waiting on that one), I'm placing bets that he's definitely coming back in four years. Sorry, Jesus.

But back to my resonating extended metaphor and powerful conclusion. The fervor of students -- the absolute mania of the masses on Tuesday -- mimicked the raw power that religion can foment. As I said during the massive rally, we could just as easily have been going to burn a blasphemer as celebrating a new era of tolerance. That power was so unlike anything I've seen at Dartmouth that only a well-enforced ban on pong culture could match it.

Now that we're done, Americans, have yourself a cigarette. I hope you enjoyed the two years of media foreplay before two hours of relevant "in-depth" analysis . Was it as good for you as it was for me? Our e-r-lection has faded, and now all we can do is talk awkwardly about our future together. I hope Obama makes us all a good breakfast.