Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Night

I voted for Obama in 2008. I'd always kind of liked John McCain and his whole maverick schtick,  but the modern-day Republican party seemed (and still does) to be walking one-way down a narrow path to crazy town with increasing speed, and McCain appeared to be reluctantly following along.

I remember watching the inauguration in January, though, and all I could think was, he's bound to let us down. When Republicans made fun of Democrats, calling Obama "the Messiah," I thought they had a point. He was just a man, projected up onto the same big screen where we project all our hopes, dreams and ideals. He never had a chance to live up to that.

Of course, we were fresh off the George W. Bush years at the time, so a relatively friendly homeless guy hanging out outside the local grocery store would have looked like a good bet at that point, in comparison. (But then again, there was John Kerry in '04.)

I haven't been able to get into this election. Obama hasn't disappointed me, necessarily. I loved his talk about transparency, but didn't particularly believe it at the time. His continuation of Bush's foreign policy is also saddening, but I knew when Bush assumed so much power in the executive branch that it would be awfully hard to take it back, regardless of party.

Also, it seems like we've known Obama will win all along in 2012 (if Romney wins tonight, color me surprised!). Even the Republicans don't particularly seem to like Romney. I look at politics, and it's hard to see anything but theater.

I enjoy the theater, but don't tell me it's real life.

I almost didn't vote today. It's not because I'm disillusioned; that happened a long time ago. I was born into a post-Watergate political America. I don't know that I was ever illusioned in the first place.

I worked all day. Took kids to the library. Packed a picnic lunch. Visited an indoor playground. Passed out peanut butter sandwiches and, later, carried little girls to beds and cribs. Later, I woke them, changed diapers, played chase and served snacks. My husband walked in the door at the same time I should have been starting my yoga class, all apologies for being late (meeting with a mortgage re-financier, in case I needed a reminder that The Big Decisions do Trickle Down one way or another), and I raced out to teach my class, and then attend a physical therapy session for the tendonitis in my shoulder.

I had thought we were all going to go vote together: the husband and I, with the kids. But then he texted and told me he went while I was teaching. I got out of class, and I knew: if I go home, I'm not going back out. I also knew that New York's electoral college votes would go to Obama, regardless of what I did this evening. It was a long day, and I was tired.

And yet, I found myself pulling into one of my polling station's parking spaces a few minutes later. It's housing for the elderly; they sit in the lobby in their wheelchairs, pointing us voters in the right direction when we walk in the building. One woman had put together little baskets of used goods to sell at her fold-out card table. And the election officials were just as daft, disorganized, and delightfully human as they have been every other time we've shown up to vote.

All of us, there at the polling place, we were too fat, or had too much makeup on. We were born ugly, or wore the same sweatpants all the time. We were in wheelchairs; our mustaches were unfortunate in every way; we couldn't rip a serrated sheet of paper off a ballot pad. All of us are imperfect. We're just doing the best we can.

I voted for Obama in 2012. I'm not an idealist when it comes to politics.

But nonetheless, I'm glad I went.

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