Celebrating Obama’s Win in 2008 and 2012: A Comparison

“Getting sloppy drunk because you’re relieved just isn’t as much fun.”

In a post covering Wesleyan’s reaction to Election Night, I remarked on differences between Wesleyan’s celebration of Obama’s reelection this month and its unabashed euphoria following his election in 2008. “This was satisfaction and warm relief,” I wrote; “it wasn’t outright jubilation and madness in the vein of what took place on campus this time in ’08.”

Not that I have any legitimate basis for that claim. I was in high school in 2008. I watched America elect Barack Obama in quiet with my dog while my parents slept down the hall. (The dog might have been sleeping, too.) I didn’t witness any of the “jubilation and madness” taking place in Middletown.

So I reached out to Sam Barth ’13, a fellow senior and friend, who’s one of the only students to have witnessed both elections unfold from the Wesleyan Bubble. Barth was a visiting prefrosh when Obama was elected, and he kindly sent me his thoughts on the comparison between ’08 and ’12:

In ’08 the school went nuts—streakers and music and lots of fireworks and a huge party outside of Usdan with like 1/3 of the school and Mike Roth. Everyone seemed so happy. The crowd kept singing the fight song over and over but I didn’t know any of the words (do they say “Go Us!” at the end of the song?). I had consumed too many substances to really know what was going on but I remember wondering how long this feeling was going to last. (And by feeling, I mean feelings of optimism and hope, not feelings of intoxication.)

This year was obviously very different.  Nobody has the hope and optimism of four years ago or the sense that things are going to suddenly get better. A lot of people were saying Tuesday night that we’ve become jaded, but I think we’re just much more realistic about what this election means. There was a lot less celebration, the biggest thing I saw was the 50 or so people in Exley 150, and everyone told me it was too cold for streaking and that I should stop yelling. ’08 was optimism and celebration, ’12 is more like determination and relief. Getting sloppy drunk because you’re relieved just isn’t as much fun.

But I did anyway.

For full coverage of the reaction to Obama’s win in 2008, click here or here. Photos by Hannah Berkman ’12 in 2008: