I hadn't really thought about this before voting, but after Obama won I realized something. One effect of having a black president is that it changes the way white Americans see black Americans, on a grand scale. It's so easy for a white person in a majority-white area to ignore the fact that there even ARE black people, because even when they are represented on shows and movies they're a side character, caricatured, or quickly killed off -- and they only seem to make the news when they win games or do something bad. Some white people endeavor to make themselves aware of the privilege that we have by default, but for all those that don't? The president is one person who cannot be ignored. Maybe now people will be just a little more aware of how race affects those who don't have the luxury of ignoring it. And people who subconsciously believe that black people don't belong in positions of power will have their assumptions shifted. Even if no one says anything about race directly, this will create positive change.
And it feels good as a female and queer human to have someone running the country who has felt the sting of discrimination, and is not afraid to speak against it. (without the insincerity of a white straight male who fails to admit to zir own privilege/prejudice)
you know, something I learned from Bush -- the president is not just a powerful official. Ze is seen by Americans and others as a symbol of the United States, and it seems that most Americans' faith in America depends on their faith in the president. That isn't true for me, but understanding that did affect my vote. I feel that even if Obama ends up being a mediocre president, the faith and hope that people have in zir will bring so much positivity. It's so refreshing, after all the hate, to feel hope radiate from people instead.
This year I voted more with my heart/spirit than my mind (my main reason for voting for Obama was that ze inspires hope, and spoke on behalf of equality), and I feel sensitive to criticism about that, but also certain that I made the right choice.
Semi-relevantly, did you know that laws against interracial marriage/sex existed and were enforced in the US until 1967?!?! I did not know this until yesterday when I saw Itty Bitty Titty Committee (which was awesome). So maybe Californians turned on themselves and maybe same-sex marriage is currently unsupported but we WILL eventually make marriage equal in sex as it is in skin.