Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election Reflection. Reflecelection?

My initial plan was to just say something quick like “that’s a relief” or “well, shit” (depending on the outcome) and say a quick bit of thanks that the whole damn thing was over and then just leave it at that, because you’re exhausted and tired of this election and I’m exhausted and tired of this election and the best thing we can do is put it behind us and vow to work together and move forward and fix this giant mess we’ve found ourselves in.

Waking up this morning, it felt great to throw off the blankets and return to life as normal. I felt much more peaceful than I have in months. A lot of anxiety has melted away, due in large part to the tangible tension that has had a chokehold on everything lately. I’m relieved. Sure, I’m glad my candidate won, but beyond that, I’m just glad it’s DONE.

But it’s there’s a lot more to it than that, and I would be remiss to just gloss it over by dusting off my hands and taking a nap. This election was big, not just in the obvious ways, and I think it says a lot about where we are as a country.

First, some notes on election night itself. I think my favorite part about last night, while I watched a live stream from ABC online with my friend Maria, was texting updates back and forth with my mom. (“Pennsylvania just went to Obama! Missouri went to Romney! What the hell is going on in Florida?”) She was watching a different channel and they were calling different states at different times. Hell, I found out that Iowa went blue from a text from my friend Stacey in Colorado. It was still another ten, fifteen minutes before ABC called it.

(That said: I do not understand how they are able to project a state based on as low as 1% of returned polls – I mean, I get that they do some sort of exit polling and they’ve got all these fancy algorithms in place, but… that seems to be a lofty pronouncement for so little information. What’s weird is that, based on the final numbers I am seeing today, they were right.)

(It still doesn’t look like they’ve called Florida – it’s 49.8% to Obama and 49.3% to Romney which is pretty much as close as you can get. On the map, Florida is still gray.)

I feel bad for Alaska… their polls weren’t even closed yet before they called the election. I think they should vote on Monday and then the news outlets can just call that state first on Tuesday evening. Calling an election before you’ve even gotten to vote would seem to me a great way to stir up some hardcore voter apathy up north.

I’ll admit, I was getting nervous as Romney took state after state. But the states he was winning were traditionally red states, and they weren’t overly populous states at that. The electoral college system is WEIRD… after the clusterbunch of the 2000 election, I actually did some research to figure out how the hell it worked, and it makes sense, sort of, but it seems like an incredibly flawed system, especially when it allows for the possibility of the person getting the most “Popular Votes” (ie, Actual Votes) not actually winning. I guess we’ve been using it long enough that it all evens out, but it’s still a weird system.

It does make for an interesting “game” though, being able to cross off states and see which goes which way. It interests me in the same way trivia interests me. I like having tidy compartments in which to store information, and by assigning a state a color and a candidate, it makes things less messy.

I will always find an excuse to post a Mean Girls reference. I don't even care.

As far as the results, though. I haven’t watched the speeches yet because they occurred after my bedtime, but I heard they were both wonderful. For as hard of a time as I gave Mitt (which is the chance you take when you run for public office: you risk inciting my ire and verbal sassitude), it sounds like he gave a gracious and classy speech, and was genuinely bummed. I can’t imagine how hard it is to try so hard for something you want so badly, only have to admit defeat on a national, very visible stage. I remember when I ran for student government office in college; it was nerve-wracking and awful. I can only imagine how distressing it was for both candidates yesterday. Win or lose, both parties tried very hard, and they both spoke of a desire to help fix this country. In that respect, we are fortunate. We are fortunate enough to have multiple qualified candidates to choose from, who are both determined to do what they feel is best (even though a large contingent of the population disagrees with them) and somewhere down in their power-grubbing little politician hearts, I do feel like they care about this country and our people.

While the majority of my attention was naturally locked on the Presidential election, I was very interested in seeing what was happening with some of the other, “smaller” elections around the country. In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren won the Senate seat, making her the first female Senator for that state (I KNOW, what?) The thing about Elizabeth Warren is that I’ve heard just enough about her to make me think that the Democratic Party is grooming her for a bigger seat. Maybe not in 2016 (although they pushed Barack Obama into the presidential race after only one term in the Senate) but perhaps 2020… I wouldn’t be surprised to see her on the ticket. Mark my words, though – keep your eye on her, I suspect we’ll be seeing more of her in future election cycles.

In Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin was elected the first openly gay Senator. This is huge for the LGBTQ community. What’s more, three states voted YES to same-sex marriage (Maine, Maryland, and Washington) and Minnesota shot down a same-sex marriage ban. That’s four states who are setting a precedent… the people spoke up and said YES, this is a thing we believe in. It wasn’t a judicial decision like it was in some states, an interpretation of the law… people chose it. I was so proud of those states, especially in Maryland where there was a huge margin of victory.

This brings the roster up to Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, Wash DC, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland, and Washington - nine states and one district where it's legal for gay people to marry who they love and be legally recognized for it. It's progress, and it's beautiful.

In fact, a statistic circulating the Internets declares that there are a record number of women who will be holding seats in Congress after this election.

[cue barrage of tongue in cheek "binder of women" jokes from the comment section]

In what was, admittedly, a rather satisfying turn of events, Todd "legitimate rape" Akin was defeated in Missouri.

Actually, according to this graphic circulating the 'net, Foot In Mouth Syndrome seems to be quite fatal to one's political career.

Hell hath no fury like a woman insulted by her politician.

Much to my chagrin, sexist lunatic Steve King was re-elected here in Iowa, WHY people vote for him, I have not the faintest of clues, but... here's the thing about Iowans. We like our incumbents. We apparently like what we know. Which is why Senator Chuck Grassley has been a Senator for 32 years. (Our other senator, Tom Harkin, has been in place for 28 years.) That's the only rational reason I can come up with, because Steve King is a terrible person and is notorious nationwide for being a professional crazypants.

Ironically, of the group above, the most rational thing said was by Paul Ryan (which is a sentence I never thought I'd hear myself say.) I mean, he's right. It doesn't. I find it hard to deconstruct Joe Walsh's quote, either - that's his view, and it's consistent. I'll give him points for sticking to his guns, and at least he was polite about it. Everyone else on that wall of shame up there, though. They deserve the ballot-casting bitchslap that they got. You don't say shit like that. It's not okay.

In other interesting moves, both Colorado and Washington (state) voted to legalize marijuana (Oregon, interestingly, voted no.) Not medical marijuana, mind you – recreational marijuana. This is interesting because it’s still illegal on the federal level; in order for this whole thing to shake out, it eventually is going to have to wind its way through the court system for a ruling to set a precedent. Honestly, I think it’s smart… for one, you’ve got another industry that’s suddenly taxable (not to mention the spike the snack industry is going to see). Hell, legalize it everywhere and I think we might be on track to fix the economy. I’m not a smoker of any sort nor have I ever been (maybe it makes me uncool to admit, but: I’ve never even TRIED it, neither the tobacco variety or the, um, plant variety) but I think pot-smokers are a lot safer to have around than alcohol drinkers. Have you ever seen an angry pothead? I haven’t. But I’ve seen a hell of a lot of angry, violent, destructive drunks. So it really only seems fair that if alcohol is legal and tobacco is legal, marijuana may as well be, too. I’m not sure what the health risks are with marijuana (whereas we all know that tobacco = cancer), but if it’s used for medicinal purposes, it’s probably better for you than cigarettes? I don’t know. Like I said, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

In terms of the Congressional elections… the Republicans retain control of the House and the Democrats retain control of the Senate. I’m really not sure what that’s going to mean, but I’m hoping now that the very determined efforts to thwart Obama so he wouldn’t get reelected have failed, maybe they’ll take this opportunity to actually work together to get things done. That’s probably the most commonly echoed sentiment I’ve seen today, from supporters of both sides: okay, this mess is over, we have a leader, let’s try to work together now. Being stubborn or bullheaded or cutting off the nose to spite the face, as we’ve been seeing for the last four years, doesn’t get anyone anywhere. It’s time to put that shit aside and look forward, look across the aisle, look back at the American people.

Ok, it's mean-spirited, but it's funny.

And so help me, if people start talking in earnest about the 2016 election already, I may punch someone. I, for one, welcome the reprieve. Let the dust settle first, eh?

In the meantime, onwards and upwards. Or, to steal a line from the Obama campaign: forward.


1 comment:

Terra said...

It really was a super awesome turn of events and I'm loving the lack of political ads in my life.