Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day

I used to love politics. I was a Journalism major and wanted to be a Political Science minor until budgetary problems at my small liberal arts college had political science eliminated as a minor. My parents never talked about politics with me when I was growing up because they wanted me to form my own opinions. I was a college student, my opinions were formed, and I was going to write about them and discuss them in an intellectual forum! But come November 2, 2004, I decided politics was not for me anymore.

I loved that with the combination of my Journalism and Poly Sci classes I was reading the paper everyday and was the most informed I had ever (and most likely will ever be) been in my life. But that had to stop. My reasoning was, why care about this and discuss it and argue about it when there is no hope? George W. Bush got RE-ELECTED. I’m sorry, that’s a political system that I do not care to take part in. Once was hard enough to stomach… but voted as president twice? Seriously?

Not only was he re-elected on that fateful night, but where was I when it was happening? The night everything I cared about disappeared in a sea of red states? This Democrat was at the Republican headquarters in Richmond, Virginia because for my Press & Politics class, all Republicans had to go to the Democrats' headquarters and the Democrats to the Republicans' to write election articles.

I didn’t watch John Kerry lose the election -- I watched George Bush win it. Among a throng of happiness and joy was how I saw everything I believed was right come crashing down. I felt like most people I knew hated George Bush, how was it possible I lived in a country where the majority didn’t agree?

I cut off all ties to politics. I didn’t follow it at all. I didn’t watch the news and I didn’t read the news. I purposefully made myself as uninformed as humanly possible to protect myself from the depression of seeing the country go to shit. The war, the economy. I didn’t care. Keith Olbermann could continue reciting how many days it has been since George Bush declared mission accomplished. I used to think it was funny. Now I just think it’s depressing.

Ignorance is bliss. I wasn’t strong enough to fight a losing battle, so I quit. I became a shut-in in the world of politics- there’s a whole universe of politics out there and I stayed locked inside my ignorant cave.

I started to become more vocal about this in 2008. Before this year, people weren’t really talking about politics other than what George Bush was doing wrong. I can deal with those conversations. I have no input since I don’t follow the news, but I can tolerate being around them. When the Presidential nominees started to emerge I started to get a little hostile.

One night I was out to dinner with my roommate and her mother, a Cuban immigrant, I told them that I wasn’t going to vote this year. “Why?” they asked. “Because I have no faith in this country or the government,” was my response. “This is the greatest country in the world,” was her response. And this isn’t from a fresh-off-the-boat Cuban. Although she found a far superior life in America and would definitely get a tax break under McCain, I really don’t see America as the land of opportunity. Yeah, in comparison to Fidel Castro, most non-third-world countries are going to look pretty good.

On Mother’s Day this year we had a luncheon at my parents’ house in Connecticut. It was a big family and friends affair with upwards of 15 people at the table. Somehow the conversation grew political, and I told everyone (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends) I was not going to vote this year. My mom immediately became upset. I told them how I don’t believe in the political system anymore and that if George Bush was re-elected in 2004, why would I have any reason to believe Obama has any chance of winning? I told them all I thought McCain was going to win. “That’s scary,” my friend said. “I agree. We should all be very scared,” was my response.

After a prolonged internal struggle I decided over the summer that I would place my vote come November. The last thing I need to hear when McCain wins is that “every vote counts” (a phrase that holds ZERO weight ever since the 2000 election).

On this Election Day I woke up with multiple text messages about the election (despite my vocal attempts at distancing myself from politics); One from my mom saying “Where will we move if McCain wins?” Um, probably the same place we moved when Georgie got re-electied – nowhere! This coming from a woman who voted for George Bush in 2000 (and when she told me about it years later, I cried.); A sarcastic text from a friend who is a lawyer (and democrat) in Norfolk, Virginia saying “I just voted for McCain, Tina Fey is so hot, she’s running right?”; And another text from my cynical future-movie-producer friend who lives in New York who apparently just realized what I have been saying all along, “What if Obama were to get spanked in the elections? That would really be something else.”

I had to read a book of short stories in high school. One of the stories really got to me, it was called “The City of Broken Hearts”. It was about how Boston is called “The City of Broken Hearts” because everyone puts all their faith into the Red Sox each year and each year the Red Sox lose. This was written in the 90’s, and as we all know, the curse has been broken. Curses (and rules?) were made to be broken. Julia Louis-Dreyfus eventually broke the Seinfeld curse and won an Emmy, so one can anticipate that Obama will prevail and break the Republican curse that has plagued out country for the past eight years, but until tonight, who is to say if it will actually happen or not?

Even as I read headlines like “Pollster Calms Paranoid Dems: McCain Win Exceptionally Improbable” I can’t help but prepare for the worst and hope that I’m wrong. You can hope against hope, and dream against dream, that your candidate is going to win. But to my democratic friends, as much as I want Obama to win, if he doesn’t, all I can say is- told ya so.

1 comment:

bleifer@gmail.com said...

i certainly enjoyed reading your blog and wonder why you have given up on journalism as a career.

My first response to your blog which is somewhere in cyber space was much more detailed than what I am about to write now...

I am surprised at your apathy. Imagine Barack Obama, who was probably as disgusted with the results of the 2000 election as you. If he had chosen apathy, he would not be about to make history.

By choosing not to vote and putting ones head in the sand you are making a choice. You are choosing for others to make a choice for you. I believe everyone can make a difference in this world. If not on the political front than somewhere else. Why not be open to others ideas and try to understand why people you care about endorse different values?

I have enjoyed listening to right wing radio, talking to cousin David in Kansas, and trying to understand why people would endorse McCain Palin. The wonderful thing about our country is the freedom to think differently and express ourselves freely.

This year I have decided to vote with my heart and soul and not with my bank account. With so much uncertainty in this world. I hope a new face, a younger smarter and alternative politician can make a difference.

I have frends who took off from work and went to Scranton PA today to knock on doors and get out the vote and drive people to the polls if they could not get there. Every little bit helps.

I am proud to be an American and I do believe it is a wonderful land of opportunity. I also feel strongly that it is our duty to vote.

My hope for you is not to give up and to always have hope. You can make a difference.