Intrepid Girl Reporter

Tuesday, 11/4: it’s (not) the end of the world as we know it
November 5, 2008, 4:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

When I was little – like, little little – I totally romanticized politics. I dreamed about elections for everything, for every class, because I am competitive and I LOVE TO WIN, and I was always super disappointed that we never had them. In fourth grade I gave a speech about gender equality for the Tropicana/4H Speech Contest held every year in Bradenton and, much to my surprise, I failed to advance. When I got to the contest, the other speeches were about things like names and people’s tonsillectomies and their heroes (often baseball players), and it struck me that possibly I had lost because I took entirely the wrong tack (and took the whole thing too seriously). Looking back, it was either that or that I was growing up in the wrong school district/city/community/state. Probably both. The next year I gave a speech on Pig Latin.

Later, when I got to high school, I ran for sophomore class VP. Unopposed, which I didn’t know until I got up there. It has always struck me as ironic that, given the fact that what I really wanted was not to rule but to win through vigorous competition, the only time I ever landed in office was the time I didn’t really win at all. (ETA: I ran for president on September 11 for the junior class. And lost. But it didn’t seem super important anymore.)

There aren’t a lot of ways in which I am envious of my younger self, but this is one of them. I don’t have the inclination to cling so vigorously to one side anymore. I would like to be drunk right now (maybe off joy and not alcohol, given the events of last weekend) and screaming “YES WE CAN!” with a crowd of like-minded supporters. But there are a few things stopping me from doing so. Living at home seems like the obvious choice, but it’s actually not in the way that might be assumed; unlike most people, I probably could party with my parents if I wanted to, but the sharp divergence in the past election has rendered the mood less than celebratory. Still, though, being exposed so consistently to such continually different approaches – proffered by people who are not racist, are not fundamentalist religious zealots, and generally don’t fit any of the other stereotypes of the opposition – means that I can’t align myself with masses of people claiming to have defeated the Dark Side. Am I happy Obama won? Yes. Am I hopeful? Yes. But what I’m mostly prepared for is another presidency with missteps and controversies that never satisfies anyone completely – I just want this one to set us back on track, to help us pick up the many messes we’ve created over the last several (okay, mostly eight) years.

I genuinely – really, really – do not believe that either candidate would have meant America’s death as we know it. Obviously, I think one guy’s going to do a better job than the other would/has exercised better judgment thus far. Still, though, all of the history I know suggests that both parties are equally prone to scandal, bad judgment, and the presumption of the role of caretaker for the American people. What I hope happens is that this election forces the GOP to get its shit together and the Democrats to rise to the occasion that’s been given. What I hope (and believe) will happen is that we’ll have a better presidency than the last one. I have this nagging feeling that my refusal to wholeheartedly embrace one side without looking back makes me no better than an appeaser, but I still can’t shake the equally nagging feeling that to do so would make this election as simple as it’s been given credit for. So I’ve cast my vote, rejected most of the rhetoric (at least in this situation – I think it’s mostly because being president is such a huge job, unlike, say, educational commissioner, where you would at least have a smaller number of issues over which you could potentially disagree). Which seems like a fitting situation for the girl who won the only office she ever held by accident.


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