Monday, October 27, 2008

Trading Places

I'm trying to remember exactly how I felt and what I said in the lead up to the 2000 election. I know I was horrified at who the other side had nominated. I'm sure I was mystified about what they saw in this guy. I was furious that the campaign was not a rout, as I felt it clearly should have been. How could our clearly intelligent, qualified, sitting vice president be in danger of losing to that yahoo who had ruined every business his daddy had ever bought for him? I thought a Bush presidency would be a disaster. And in 2004, I was even more mystified. In that year, it would be more accurate to say I was enraged. Surely we couldn't be falling for this guy's crap again??

In both of those election years, I pissed and moaned and gnashed my teeth. I expressed outrage and fear for our future. I'm sure I made my fair share of gloom and doom predictions. The sky was definitely falling and it was perhaps enough to make me wonder if Armageddon was on its way (and I'm an atheist!).

I'm trying to keep all that in mind in the final days leading up to this current election. It seems with each passing day that the anti-Obama voters are sounding more desperate, giving into despair. They bemoan the beginning of socialism, the end of our country as we know it if Obama wins. It's unfathomable, how are we losing to this guy, we'll never survive. The words are different, but in spirit they now sound very much like I did in the last two campaign seasons.

But here's the thing: it's kind of hard to ignore the fact that I was right in 2000 and 2004. Does anyone really want to argue that the Bush administration hasn't been the most disastrous administration in this country's history? It's definitely top 3 at least. We've regressed to engaging in torture, endlessly incarcerating anyone we want to at Gitmo, and spying on our own damn citizens. We're mired in two wars, with no sign that we have any long-term strategy or end game for either one. We've lost the respect we once had as the leading nation in the world. It's dangerous and naive to think that the opinion the rest of the world has about us shouldn't be of concern to us. It seems to me we are more socially divided and more distrustful than ever. And our economy is a wreck. So it seems that hindsight makes all my gloom and doom predictions seem not so nuts.

Now maybe the anti-Obama folks could be ultimately proven right if (knock on wood) Obama wins next Tuesday. And maybe hindsight will again convince me I was right all along. But either way, I can't shake the idea that it's just my turn to win and their turn to worry. I endured the 8 years Bush voters put me through. It's now my turn to have a go at it with the candidate I support. We tried it their way; it didn't work. So now let's try it my way.

I promise in 4 years, if Obama turns out to be as scary as the anti-Obama crowd thinks, I will let them all say, "I told you so."


Stacy said...

I can't say about 2000 what I was thinking. I don't really remember. But I think the entire country felt that way because our biggest problem that election was stem cell research. And conservative folks were tired of having a President they couldn't respect. Right, wrong or indifferent, the Monica thing took it's toll. I can't remember what motivated my vote beyond sort of what you're describing here ... a feeling of "my turn."

In 2004 it was all about terrorism for me. And John Kerry with his weak war record and his I was for it and then against it did not stand a chance of defending the nation the way I wanted it defended. Do I regret my choice? Not really. Do I think Bush has been a good President? That gets a big gray for me. The fact that he could not unite the country over a single one of his issues and he became the most divisive character ... ever ... just shows a lack of understanding of basic debate and other compromise principles. I'm alright with a line in the sand when it comes to national defense, but there are other things that require a finasse that he doesn't seem to have.

I'm not all that sad about your team winning, I went into this knowing that the world was tired of Republicans and conservatism and the other side practically had this election handed to them. I do not like however, the unfair treatment that is taking place in the press. But that's a different argument.

It's a democracy and if polls are to be believed, Obama will be President. I am sorry if I've sounded desperate, it's not in any attempt to change anyone's mind, just to sort of vent my own frustration at what I see happening.

heather said...

I have to confess to not feeling very inspired in the 2000 election. Al Gore, while obviously not Bill Clinton, still carried with him a lot of the baggage of Bill Clinton. And while I thought Bill was an excellent President and I did not think his lying about screwing around with an intern ought rise to the level of being an impeachable offense, I was also very much ready to move on to someone without those Clinton ties. I didn't like George W. Bush at all, but Al Gore didn't exactly inspire me to get out and work hard to get him elected. Looking back on that election, I wish I would have done more, but then hindsight is always 20/20.

In 2004, my dissapointment came both from the fact that, by that point, we knew what kind of President George W. Bush was, and his version of a Presidency I found truly appalling. But I felt like from early on in the election season that John Kerry just didn't have a campaign that was capable of taking on Bush Co. head to head. John Kerry's campaign was obviously being run like it was still 1992 and by 2004, elections were a whole different animal. I got involved in that election mostly because of John Edwards who at least inspired some hope in me that there were other people who wanted a different path than W was traveling.

This year, Obama struck a chord with me, touching on all the things I thought were wrong about the last eight years and saying what I was feeling inside the whole time--that we, as a nation, are better than this. I dumped John Edwards in the primaries and decided to caucus for Obama and have not regreted that decision since.

The thing that bothers me the most about this election is that, for all the anger, exasperation, and desperation our side felt in 2000 and 2004, I don't remember that anger verging on threats of actual violence. And I think if there had been such a vibe in the losing side in 2000 and 2004 (especially in the wake of the recount in 2000), the media would have jumped all over that, the way they have over those instances this year.

I don't know if that violent undercurrent on the other side this year is because of the internet lies that continue to circulate saying Obama is a muslim or if its because he's black, or if its just because we've become so polarized that neither side can find any common ground anymore. But I feel like in the last eight years we've lost something of our decency as country and lost some of our belief in our democracy and I'm not sure we will ever be able to get it back.

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