Since Halloween

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Friday I celebrated Halloween by going door to door--not asking for candy, but doing GOTV stuff for Obama. I didn't knock on the doors of strangers; I told campaign people that I would never do that again in this lifetime, having already fulfilled my quota of door-knocking for the Mormon church. Nor would I do phone banks. Instead I did stuff like data entry or hanging those little thingies on door knobs, reminding people to VOTE on November 4. Oh, and I also brooded about the upcoming election.

Saturday I felt like crap and tried to fight off a cold, and brooded about the upcoming election.

Sunday I cleaned my home really, really thoroughly, first of all for something to do. Also so that if the election went well, my happiness would be increased by the pleasure I always feel waking up in a clean house, and so that if it went badly, I could just sulk and not have to deal with housework. Then I brooded about the upcoming election.

Monday I tried to be upbeat. I wore an outfit I really like, hung out in cool places, planned a nice meal, bought booze. I worked hard at projects that needed hard work. Then I brooded about the upcoming election.

I had cleared Tuesday entirely. The only three things I had to do were A) vote and B) brood about the election until the votes were reported, and C) watch the results.

Voting was not as difficult as I feared. I didn't vote early because I like going to the polls on election day. I was able to walk to my polling place. There was no line. None. There were eight voting machines and people at four of them. My wait time to vote was 0 minutes. I voted, walked out of the church (my polling place is often a church) and kept walking, to get my blood moving and to kill time.

Tuesday night I switched between various web sites. I watched states turn red or blue. I opened a bottle of wine. There was that moment, after Ohio was called for Obama but before California came in, when I did the math like everyone else and realized Obama was going to win.

I burst into tears and I cried on and off for the rest of the night. I cried for the same reasons so many others cried: joy, astonishment, gratitude, hope, fatigue, relief. Emphasis on astonishment and fatigue. I mean, I knew I felt joy and hope, but they were muted by the huge strain of waiting for the election.

I toasted the president elect and his family. I toasted myself. I toasted everyone who made this possible. I went to bed eventually. I slept fitfully. I woke up with a hangover.

Wednesday I did the minimum I could get away with in terms of professional and social obligations. I read accounts and analyses of how Obama won, how the world reacted, what his presidency would mean.

I felt OK. I felt better than I would have if McCain had won, but I didn't feel great. I still felt a lot of astonishment and fatigue.

And then, in the evening, something happened. I finally laughed.

A good part of it was reading about how McCain staff said Palin's shopping addiction was worse than was reported before the election, and that REPUBLICANS lamented "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast." Or watching video on Fox News informing us that Palin didn't know Africa is a continent, and threw temper tantrums that reduced her staff to tears when she got bad press.

This is who the Republicans chose to lead them, and us?

I laughed because it was so ridiculous. A new bar has been set in the theatre of the absurd. I thought it was bad enough that the Republicans stuck us with a president as stupid and incurious as George Bush, but he was no comparison for Sarah Palin in the contest for stupidest person ever to run for office in the American presidency.

I laughed out of schadenfreude. Who hasn't? Bill Kristol, Pat Buchanan, John McCain, certain members of my social circle, all these people who vaunted Palin as a legitimate candidate: their credibility has been profoundly damaged. And Sarah P herself had to return the clothes and go home.

I laughed the nervous, anxious laughter that bursts forth when you realize you've missed a bullet. Except that we didn't miss a bullet. We missed an entire artillery assault.

I laughed because I could. I laughed because laughing finally helped dissipate the tension in my gut. I laughed because it felt good, and it helped me feel the other things that made me cry: joy, astonishment, gratitude, hope.

At a time when it really counted and we knew it, we did the right thing.

7 Comments

"I felt better than I would have if McCain had won"

Wow, is that the understatement of the year. If McCain had won, I don't think I could have gotten out of bed for a week.

I saw the stuff about Africa and wardrobes and crying staff. Just when you thought the Republican party couldn't set the bar any lower. Amazing.

Something funny happened here in England after the election. People kept congratulating me. I did vote; it was the least I could do. In return, I suspended my cynicism for one whole day. I even did the same little dance I did when Pinochet died to celebrate the ousting of those cruel and violent sociopaths from the White House.

I've started following Obama's naming of his cabinet and I'm keeping a wary eye on things that the incumbents might do to box Obama into some bad places before he can take office, such as another war (with Syria? Iran?), or beginning to drill for oil in Utah's national parks, or further gifts to investment bankers that will put the government deeper in debt. Paul Krugman had a pretty good editorial in the New York Times urging Obama to be audacious -- the audacity of hope should be more than the title of a book, really -- and not to let those close to him box him in, either. It won't hurt for his constituents to remind him for the next four years, vocally and regularly, why they voted for him in the first place.

Yeah, I was amazed by the revelation that she didn't know Africa was a continent and not just a country. Then I was almost more amazed when that commentator (was that Bill O'Reilly?) was saying essentially that such ignorance is no biggie since she could easily be briefed on geography and on the basic functioning of the U.S. governement...

I'm glad you got to laugh. I wondered up until I heard the declaration just how things would go. Bush got two terms and that shocked the hell out of me so I'm relieved and ready to laugh again too! And I ain't even American! I do know quite a bit more than Sarah I think though.

I got coffee and planned to stay up all night waiting for the results. I was pretty surprised when they called it at 11 - surprised in a GREAT way. I was ECSTATIC...for about 5 seconds. And then the results for prop 8 started coming in. I ended up staying up all night watching those results, and it's really dampened my happiness about Obama. Every time I start to get really excited about Obama, I remember prop 8 and I want to cry. Since my family and most of my good friends are Mormon I'd really made an effort to not harbor any animosity for the church. Well, that's out th window. While I know a lot of good Mormons, I officially think that religion is a cancer to humanity.

But, um, YAY FOR OBAMA!

Didn't mean to bring the mood down.

I was THRILLED about the presidential election results, and went to sleep after his speech. But on Tuesday when I read about Florida, Arizona, California and Arkansas (unmarried people are no longer allowed to adopt or foster children), my mood plummeted pretty quickly. It disgusts me that people voted to TAKE AWAY the rights of others. First of all, our society needs to move beyond the idea that everyone's ultimate goal needs to be marriage, but until they do, they cannot take away the ability to get married. If that's the only way that a loving relationship can be legitimate in the eyes of half the country, and in many ways, the government, then it should not be taken away. Loving someone and wanting that to be recognized is not something that can be legislated.

Hi John GW--you're right; that was quite an understatement, so much so that I had to write another entry explaining why I would say such a thing.

Spike, like you, I think hope should be truly audacious--that's something else I've addressed in my new entry. And I am also following Obama's appointments and so forth, though more with cautious optimism than real hope.

Hi CL--I was likewise shocked by O'Reilly shrugging off her ignorance.

Dale, I think we should all be glad that Bush is gone. He did enough damage in the whole world that we should all do a little victory dance now that he's leaving.

Rebecca and Kristin, you're both completely right about the Prop 8 stuff: Mormonism has become a cancer, and humanity should move beyond the idea that we all need to get married, but until we achieve that, we need gay marriage. I'll have more to say about Prop 8 soon, but I'm still trying to process the national election before I move to state stuff. So far the only thing I've managed to write about Prop 8 is this little preliminary thing on my fake blog. But I will address it more fully, I promise.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on November 6, 2008 11:36 AM.

PRESIDENT OBAMA was the previous entry in this blog.

The Diminishment of Dreams, Or, Hope Really Is Audacious is the next entry in this blog.

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