If you were following the race, you likely saw Democrat Elizabeth Warren deliver her victory speech after defeating incumbent GOP Sen. Scott Brown – but Meghna Chakrabarti says that which the cameras fail to capture is often the best part. (Michael Dwyer/AP)

In a major campaign event, the media hierarchy usually goes like this: network and cable television crews are on risers, high above the crowd, so that their lights and their cameras have a clear line of sight to the candidate.

We radio folks, however, well, we’re usually lower … literally. Behind curtains, or, as we were last night at Elizabeth Warren’s Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel headquarters, on the floor next to the TV crews, sandwiched in a narrow slice between the risers and a high-traffic path back to the green rooms.

So, you could say, I didn’t see much. But the truth is, in this regard, we may have had the advantage. Everything the TV cameras did not see, I did. Which means, I saw actual voters.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis stands on a chair as he tries to get a better view at Elizabeth Warren’s campaign headquarters in Boston, Tues. Nov. 7, 2012. (Courtesy of the author)

There, on the hot and crowded floor, was a man with a feathered dream catcher the size of a truck tire with a blue “Warren” poster tied to the middle. There was a woman, arms crossed and strong, looking tired from a day knocking on doors, but satisfied. There were men jumping for joy, tears streaming from their eyes. There was an octogenarian celebrating Massachusetts’ first female senator. There, too, was a young boy who was born in an America where the secretary of state has always been a woman.

And as the night climaxed, there, right next to us, was Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty. The Fairmont Copley ballroom was so crowded, the 79-year-old former governor had been pushed to the back of the room, jostled into our radio pack. He stood on a chair to get a better view. A few minutes later, Kitty stood on the same chair with him. He steadied her with one arm around her waist. The other held on to the risers. When we offered them another chair, Dukakis graciously accepted it.

Here was an iconic Massachusetts couple, tenderly sharing a moment of history. But here, also, was a former presidential candidate sharing this moment on the floor, alongside the rest of us.

For me, this was the best view of all. A view of the basic truth of American democracy that’s at risk of being overshadowed by the looming tower of big money. The political elite are increasingly unlike the rest of us. But, at its heart, ours is a symbiotic system. An imperfect one, by many measures, but one in which at least once every four years, politicians acknowledge that they need voters, as much as voters need them for fair representation.

Last night, the party faithful called the Warren election a triumph of grassroots organizing. Some GOP critics called it the soulless grind of a political machine. It’s likely more than a little of both.

But at the center of those competing visions were the people I saw. The voters of Massachusetts, who came to the polls yesterday to say, “We will support you. We will give you our time, and even our money. You may have those things from us, so long as you do not take us for granted.”

Listen to Meghna read her essay on Radio Boston:

Tags: Election 2012

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  • Aaron

    This is why I love radio. Thank you Meghna.

  • Meghna Chakrabarti

    It’s funny – words can look strange on the screen when you write for radio most of the time. I also did an audio version of this essay that aired on Radio Boston. Take a listen:

    • Aaron

      I heard it on the radio first, but wanted to read it. It’s a wonderful piece. Thank you again.

  • Stephen Abbott

    The fact that she was alone on the stage and her biggest supporters got pushed aside spoke volumes.

    • Martian Minisculio

      I don’t understand this message, so the object of complaint doesn’t speak volumes yet. Whose “biggest supporters” did share the stage with them in acceptance speeches Tuesday night? How would a candidate pick which ones to share the stage with (there’s a limited space issue here)? 85% of Warren’s donations were less than $200–are you suggesting she put the 15% who are rich on stage with her? Or the ones who voted for her more than once? Or the famous ones? What?

  • Christine Leccese

    Cool article.

  • kcnorbut

    Thank you for writing and sharing.

  • Shava Nerad

    Put this up on my Google Plus blog. This is exactly what is right about New England politics. Let’s put aside for a few days what is wrong. ;) But, a lovely lovely piece, nearly made me have to pull over on 128, from getting teary eyed. Seriously.

  • noslack2327

    Elizabeth Warren told her potential employers at Harvard that she is of Native American heritage. She was subsequently hired with “Native American” on her resumé. That attribute is a lie. Now, Elizabeth is a United States Senator. Perfect.

    All this tells much about our governance.