2000: I came of voting age in time to vote in the national election. I was a freshman at a liberal arts college which brought many big name speakers to campus that year, such as Tim O’Brien, Maya Angelou… and a fateful pre-election appearance by Ralph Nader. I was eighteen, inspired, idealistic, naïve… I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, but let me just say that while I don’t necessarily regret the choice I made (Gore won California afterall) I do wish I’d voted Democratic just so my husband wouldn’t give me so much shit about it eight years later.
2004: I was in my last year of college. I had watched an Austrian bodybuilder/”actor” become governor of my state. I had voted for the losing candidate in the mayoral election in San Francisco. I came to believe that while third party candidates may be *almost* electable in city elections in the Bay Area, it was just plain dumb to support them at the national level. I voted for Edwards in the primary, but supported Kerry one hundred percent once he was nominated, and hoped and prayed with every fiber of my being that he would beat out Bush. When the results came in on that November day, I felt a dark sense of despair for my country which I’d only ever experienced during the aftermath of the World Trade center attacks. While I never felt the urge to move to France or Canada like so many of my classmates, I felt a little like I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
2008: I’m sad to say that I’m not the politically idealistic person I once was. I have a job with health insurance, an apartment, two dogs, and a husband. The environment and human rights issues are no longer on the forefront of my mind. I’ve made compromises and don’t subscribe to the strict ethical code to which I once did. However, I still care. Unfortunately this election, while historic and certainly the most hopeful and interesting of any I’ve lived through, has turned me off from politics in ways I never thought possible.
I supported Hillary initially. She’s smart, tough, and is generally more convincing as a president to me than Obama. I watched as my friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors pooh-poohed her (she was too establishment, too pushy, too much of a “bitch” – ah yes, Democrats’ finest moment, branding one of their own as a bitch), seemingly entranced by (as my husband jokingly says) “His Holiness the Barack Obama.” Yes, the cult-like behavior around Obama has been a big turnoff, as are those Warhol-esque posters that peer at me from seemingly every window in my neighborhood, including my neighbor’s windows which face my backyard. Senator Obama watches us as we play our impromptu badminton games on Saturday afternoons. Sometimes I can see him peeking in to my bedroom.
Then there is the gag reflex I’ve developed, which occurs when anyone starts talking about Sarah Palin. It’s not only that I find her annoying (although, ugh, that clip where she’s saying “…and I told Congress, ‘thanks, but no thanks, for that bridge to nowhere’” makes my skin crawl), but I find both the Republican celebri-fication of her as well as the Democratic knee-jerk rumor mongering (the alleged Sambo/bitch remark; the possibility that her son was actually her grandson) equally repulsive.
The truth is that celebrity DOES count for a LOT in this election – one need only look at Obama’s ascent to be sure of this – and as exciting and historic as it may be to elect an African American man as president or a woman as VP, I remain unimpressed with what lies at the core. This year I won’t argue policy or phonebank for my candidate. I will simply look forward to the end of all this madness.
Anyone else out there ready for this all to be over?