I paid very little attention to the 2000 Presidential election. I did not stay up late watching election returns, and I did not really care which candidate won. To be honest, it’s entirely possible I voted for George Bush. Looking back, I’m sort of glad that Virginia was safely a red state back then, meaning that the Electoral College system saved me from myself.
I was 27 years old, at the dawn of my career as an attorney, with no idea of what kind of lawyer I was going to become. I was in my longest long-term relationship (not that there had been that many, but this one seemed like it was going to last, and it has). I had this vague dream of someday becoming a novelist. I’d gotten a couple short stories published.
Several weeks later, George Bush was declared the winner, and we all know how that went. I voted for John Kerry in 2004, but you could see a Bush re-election coming from a mile away.
Against a terrible backdrop of 9/11 and two wars, the truth is that a lot of stuff happened to me during those eight Bush years, a lot of good stuff that far outweighed my disgust with what Georgie-Porgy was doing at the controls, and some bad stuff that I'd rather not go through again but made me wiser.
I ran a triathlon. Got down on one knee and proposed marriage. I wrote my first manuscript. Shattered my right arm and wrist playing softball. I got married. Went to Hawaii. I couldn’t find a literary agent. We bought our first house. I wrote my second manuscript. I still couldn’t find an agent. We had a kid and fell in love with him. Quit writing completely. Had a complete career meltdown. I wrote another book. I tried several different areas of law. Some jobs were good. Some were not so good. We learned how to host a big family Thanksgiving. We had another kid and fell in love with her.
A few months after our daughter was born, Barack Obama swept into the White House.
More stuff happened to us since then, although, admittedly, at a slower pace than during Bush’s presidency. We sold House #1. Bought House #2, regretted it almost immediately. I had some success writing. Found an agent. Sold House #2. Bought House #3. Found a lawyering job I liked (this took a long time). Still working on becoming a better writer, better dad, better husband, better cook.
And so on.
Look, I sincerely hope that Barack Obama hangs on for a second term. I’m no fan of Mitt Romney, and I am astonished that he’s made up all this ground in three weeks after floundering for SIX YEARS as a candidate. But whatever. If he wins, he wins. I hate that the right-wing extremists and wingnuts and birthers and racists and homophobes will feel validated if they boot Obama to the curb. That said, if Obama wins, we’ll still know they’re out there, and we’re still going to hear from them. And I truly hope that if Romney wins, we get the moderate version we saw at the first debate.
Yes, things will happen in this country. Some things will be good. Some things will suck. Decisions I vehemently disagree with will be made, and those decisions will hurt people. But I’m guessing not many people look back on their life and say, “things would’ve been so much better for me if Mr. X had been President.”
Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “the arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Despite the wingnuts, we live in a better, more just society today than we ever have before, largely due to the work of many, many people who were never President and would never want to be President. The economy, well, it’s going to do what it’s going to do. It’s always been that way, and it will always be that way. A hundred Harvard-trained economists probably have a hundred different theories about how to grow the economy, and yet we go through recessions and booms, and no one can seem to agree on how either begin or end. You think Mitt Romney alone has the silver bullet? Or President Obama?
Perhaps I'm being naive. Perhaps I'm just steeling myself for President Obama snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
On the other hand, maybe I'm not being naive at all. I’ve got a life to live. I’ve got dreams to chase, kids to be stupid with, and a wife to make laugh. There are chicken wings to be eaten, trips to be taken, beers to be tasted, and music to be heard.
So come November 6, sure, let’s all vote. Have your voice heard. And then let’s get back to our lives. (And thankfully, I can stop looking at poll numbers).