It’s Election Day! I have mixed feelings about the fact that campaigning is about to end. I am generally not a fan of reality TV, but have found the ups and downs of the candidates to be fascinating theater if for all the wrong reasons. My favorite parts:
- The Republican shooting stars. Michelle Bachman, Rick Perry, Hermain Cain and Newt Gingrich each shot up out of seemingly nowhere, produced a “wow” that seemed to capture the energy of the Republican base, and then faded into nothingness. The speed of both their ascents and their declines were true reflections of the Kardashian/Twitter age. My Flip camera was in vogue longer than most of those candidates.
- Romney’s dash to the center. I really liked Bob Dole before he betrayed a lifetime of reasonable stances to win the Republican primary, and then ran for president as a parody of himself. Ditto on McCain. Romney had the courage to pull a fast one on the conservative base, though, and run his post-primary campaign as ‘Moderate Mitt.’ If he’s elected, who will you get? I don’t know, but it’s the kind of move that made me love professional wrestling; and it’s the kind of move that made me love this election.
- The “everyone else is crazy” mentality. I had one friend assert that we should test people before allowing them to vote, and five minutes later told me he was going to sell his votes to the highest bidder because he didn’t care. I have another friend who couldn’t believe how ill-informed Republicans are despite having seen no debates or researched any candidates’ positions, including her own. On the plus side, only one person has told me that he’s moving to Canada if the ‘other guy’ wins.
- Running against the opponent. If you were a space alien who landed on earth, the only way you’d know Obama was president was by listening to Romney’s ads. I understand running as the Anti-Bush, but running as the Anti-Romney? Is Obama ashamed of his accomplishments? The funny thing is that this strategy might just work!
- “Hope and Change.” For a guy who won a presidential election on ideology rather than experience or policies, Obama seems unbelievably unwilling to rise above partisan politics, and disinclined to address important but unpopular issues (wars, tax reform, entitlement reform, budgets). Certainly, I’m angry about what feels like a Republican tendency to prioritize stymieing Obama over doing what’s best for the country, but I’m sadder that Obama gave up on changing the culture of Washington so readily.
- Battleground states and the “47%.” You get to be president if you win Ohio, apparently, but that would also make you president of Montana, Massachusetts, Kansas and California. Candidates are concentrating so hard on the analytics of winning elections that they’re ignoring the analytics of running the country. Even if that 47% of the country wasn’t going to vote for Mitt, shouldn’t he feel like they’d be his people, too?
- Fighting voter fraud. Only around half of Americans will vote in this election. Yet, some people want to pare that figure back even further? It’s incredible to me that the Republican Party seems to spend more time keeping certain people from voting than trying to win them over.
I suppose like any protracted event, I’ve developed a fondness for the election precisely for its ups and downs. I don’t really have strong feelings for either presidential candidate, so I’ve focused more on the process than any particular guy or gal (in large part, it’s because local and congressional politics feel more important this year. Sorry for ignoring all of that stuff! Maybe in another posting). The stakes are high, particularly given the challenges facing our country. I have faith that either Obama and Romney can tackle them, though. May the best man win!
And if you’ve lingered on my posting for this long and are interested in who I voted for, the answer is Gary Johnson. Although I feel compelled to write about the major candidates and parties, I feel no obligations to vote for them. This is a topic for another day!