By Paul Needham
NEW HAVEN, 2:45 p.m. — The trip from New Haven to Phoenix is a long one, and it was political from the start.
My taxi driver from Phelps Gate at Yale to Tweed New Haven Regional Airport was Cisse, an immigrant from Senegal. When Cisse found out I was headed to Arizona to cover the McCain campaign, his eyes lit up.
“This election has just been so exciting,” he said as he turned down the sports talk radio that was booming from the speakers in his cab.
Cisse said he will take the day off tomorrow so he can watch the election results as they come in on his television. His vote will be for Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, and it will be the first ballot he has ever cast.
This campaign, though, is not the first of Obama’s that Cisse has seen. When Obama was running for the State Senate in Illinois in 1996, Cisse was living in a part of Obama’s district — Chicago’s South Side.
But at that time, Cisse was not able to vote because of his immigrant status. This election bears special significance for him, then, as he will not only cast his first ballot, but also vote for a candidate he has supported for over a decade.
“This could only happen in America,” Cisse said as we pulled into the small terminal. “No matter all the things people say about this country, it’s still the best.”