Hope, or Whatever: Election Night Thoughts

Bunchs Lunchbox  |  11/06/2012

It’s Election Night 2012 and I’m pacing around my house nervously, feeling like I swallowed a racquet ball. I tried getting some work done, but it was useless. I kept getting distracted by political posts and news articles on Facebook and Twitter, getting sucked in from one to the next about reports of fraud, faulty machines, speculation from this state and that. At one point, I even got so jittery and disgruntled that I Tweeted “I heard @PaulRyanVP is so nervous he skinned and ate a live baby #election2012.” This was right before the pizza guy showed up, and when I heard a knock at the door a few minutes later, I half-expected to be hauled straight into the back of a black SUV. But, it was all coming down to the very earth that I was pacing atop and Tweeting from Ohio.

Being born a Michigander, my allegiance to the state was fleeting when I first moved here in 2005, but it grew on me quickly. In part, once you’ve weathered a few elections in Ohio, it’s hard not to let election night consume you. It’s almost as if the Civil War never really stopped, it just condensed itself into “the heart of it all.” The state is widely and almost mythically split between hard-core unionist liberal lefties and racist, tax-hating homophobes. I know it’s PC to call spades shovels now but that’s the truth. Regardless of which side you land on, it’s nerve-racking to live in a state where you distrust most of your fellow populace.

As soon as the polls closed at 7:30 p.m., my stomach knotted up. I ate pizza, felt sick, laid down, stood up, chain smoked, and became so frazzled and antsy I wound up drinking two beers at the same time, misplacing one in the kitchen, and finding the other in the living room. At about 8:30, I started checking the results on various websites, NPR, Al Jazeera, Twitter … careful to avoid the ones I most distrusted.

The funny thing about all this was that I’d spent the better half of this past administration like most Americans: confused, annoyed, frustrated, skeptical, and distrustful of the American political system. I don’t need to explain, I think, in general, people agree that our political engine has had an alarming knock for quite some time. In this state of fervor, I have frequently espoused my belief over the past four years that the game is rigged, that it doesn’t matter, that there is an agenda beyond the presidency and public input that has little to do with the sports show of election seasons. I still believe this. But, in my slightly panicked state, constantly looking for my lost High Life and butting back Marlboro Reds, I’ve realized something. I’m not jaded. I still care.

I strongly support the addition of 3rd, 4th, 5th, hell, even 10th party candidates to our national discourse, and I have vowed that after this election, I’ll never vote for another two-party candidate (read, Democrat or Republican) again. We’ll see how closely I’ll stand by that. To be honest, I’m not even sure I believe me. But, for the first time in a long time, or at least it feels like it, I am willing to admit that the presidential election does matter. That I do care who wins.

This might seem obvious, even idiotic, to most. To me, however, it felt like a revelation. Despite how much I disagree with the pre-prescribed politics of the American government, and despite how let down I am by some of Barack Obama’s policies, rhetoric, and votes I don’t fucking want Mitt Romney to become president of the good ol’ U S of A. And, while I know the American people are ultimately in for a good shellacking, Obama is at least like a thick motor oil that’ll settle the tick long enough to get the car looked at. (Please excuse any inferring to his blackness from that last statement).

I’m not sure how the thing’ll pan out tonight, or if we’ll even know tonight. I don’t know what’s up anyone’s sleeve for the next four years. And, maybe it’s just the glamor and glitz and excitement of the night maybe I’ll feel different in the morning but right now, I am reminded of how dangerous apathy can be. That even if people get riled up, sick with nervousness, and even if they become spiteful and hateful toward their fellow citizens because of differences in political opinion and societal goals that passion is a good thing. It means people care, that they’re thinking (even if they’re wrong or misguided), and that there is, if you’ll excuse the loaded word, hope. Regardless of your political persuasion, if you stay active and involved, if you care one year from now as much as you do tonight, things can change. Except for all that CIA stuff. That’s probally not going anywhere. I’m reminding myself as I smoke: Ryan, don’t let apathy take you. After all look what it did for grunge music! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go puke up my nerves and find my beers.