The election is over. I spent that night watching TV, and the results came in so fast that I almost missed the announcement. I had read all of these articles the day before saying how that, under certain circumstances, we might not have had a clear victor until mid December. So when all of the networks started calling it before 11pm, it was kind of surprising.
I wonder what it must have felt like for Mitt Romney, a guy who has been campaigning for President since 2006 really. Even the day of the election, he’s out there, holding rallies, firing up supporters. So was Obama. Up until the very end, everyone said it was anybody’s game, and so I guess each side had a legitimate hope that they could win. But as Pennsylvania went for the President and then all of the other swing states followed suit, and then NBC starts calling it and eventually Fox News does the same, I can’t even imagine what that must have felt like for Romney, for his team.
To get so close, only to be denied right at the very end. I can’t see how these guys can go out in front of their crowds and make concession speeches. How do you hold your head up like that? I’d want to just crawl away somewhere and disappear. And you have to get on the phone and call up your opponent, the guy who you’ve been trading barbs with for the past year, lobbing insults across the airways.
And then what’s the next day like? To all of the sudden have a campaign go from running at full capacity to the very next day just shutting down? It’s not just like losing your job. It’s like being the head of a business that overnight just goes belly up, dead in its tracks.
I can’t stand the gloating on Facebook, which is super hypocritical, because I’m right on the frontlines of it. I’m like a lieutenant, a Facebook amateur political commentary lieutenant. But I hate it. I hate it when I see comments from the other side, the opposing political viewpoint. A part of me just says, OK Rob, just take a deep breath and let it go. Just ignore it. Don’t feel like you have to post something of your own. It’s going to be a very fleeting sense of satisfaction at best.
Sometimes I’ll listen to my own advice. Other times I can’t help myself. I’ll throw something out there, something partisan, something divisive. Whatever, I already said it was stupid. But it was all of these small little comments, these occasional back-and-forths that, over time, they built up into something that made me feel like I had a personally vested interest in who won the campaign. And this was all very outside of the issues, outside of politics. A bigger part of it came down to, I didn’t want to have to go on to Facebook and see all the gloating from the other side if Romney won. It would have eaten at me from inside.
I kind of know how it felt. During the 2004 election, the first one that I could vote for, I was positive leading up to voting day that John Kerry was going to destroy George W. Bush. But what I felt as I watched that night unfold on TV, as the results came in a way that I hadn’t anticipated, that sinking feeling, staring at the screen, hoping for some “Breaking News” update that would tell me it was all a big joke. And then afterwards I would watch these political commentators and these smug right wing guys in suits would say stuff like, “Well, it’s evident that America is a fairly conservative country.” And I just sat there, boiling with impotent rage, unable to even properly let out the frustration that was building up inside. But why? Why was I angry? Was my life going to be that fundamentally different than it was before?
During this whole election season I had the same fear that it might happen again. And when it didn’t, I experienced a very hollow but palpable sense of elation. It’s over. I didn’t have to face a reality that I had not properly thought out. But the first thing I did was log onto Facebook and write “Four! More! Years!” a big middle finger to all of my online friends who happen to have a different way of looking at things. I felt great for like ten minutes, but then I felt terrible, realizing that I’m no better than everything I hate. I tried writing something sincere afterwards, talking about moving forward, of not letting ourselves get carried away by national politics, but it was too late. I could imagine a Republican doing the exact same thing and all I would feel would be a strong bitterness for some cheesy, magnanimous sore-winning.
And it’s all going to come back someday. Democrats can’t be in charge forever. That sense of loss, of being let down, of feeling politically marginalized, it’s all waiting for me four, eight, twelve years from now. It’s important, politics, but it’s all so silly. I get so fired up over people I’ve never met, will never talk to, about a system that I’m only very marginally a part of, policies and legislation that depend very little on my opinion or point of view. And I use it all as ammunition to make people that I’m close to feel inferior, not as smart as me, why can’t you see things like I see them? So yeah, I’m glad it’s all over. And I hope the next round of elections might just be a little farther away than the ones we just had.