It’s election night. I’m on my couch in my flannel (it’s awesome, you guys) watching the election coverage and getting nervous about Florida.
I just switched from Fox to ABC and everything I thought I knew just changed. WTF. Fox said Baldwin won Wisconsin. But now ABC said it’s not finalized? Whatever, I’ll go to NBC.
I think I just remembered why I’ve never bothered to watch election coverage: I”m left hoping my guy won but feeling completely helpless while all of these overly made-up buffoons pretend to know what they’re talking about.
So instead of liveblogging my experience with election coverage, I thought I’d give you a look at my voting history.
1996: I’m eight years old. I sometimes hear things about Clinton. And sometimes about Dole. When my second grade teacher takes a break from history to tell us we’re going to vote for the president, I try to remember who I’m supposed to vote for. I vaguely remember my parents saying more good things about Dole, so that’s who I vote for.
1998: I’m ten years old. I’m in the car with my mom after having just dropped Katie off after school. We’re passing Clinton Park, a tiny thing with three swings and a slide. I would never bother playing there. My mom tells me that Clinton should be impeached for cheating on his wife – that it’s unacceptable behavior for a president. I agree, then remember that James and the Giant Peach was a weird movie.
2000: I’m twelve years old. Sitting in the bandroom with the orchestra and band students, we’re told we’re going to vote for the president. It occurs to me that they might be using our responses as indications of our parents’ voting styles. Just to spite the system, I tell them I’m voting for Gore.
2004: I’m sixteen years old. Most of my friends wear Chuck Taylors and own a minimum of five band t-shirts. George Bush is a terrible human being who doesn’t know how to say “nuclear.” Joining the wave of my friends, I tell my civics teacher that in our hypothetical vote, I’m voting for Kerry. I then put my headphones back on to confirm that Matchbook Romance is the best band ever.
2006: I’m eighteen and it’s my freshman year of college. There’s a vote on a gay marriage ban. Campus sidewalks are covered with “VOTE NO” and “FREE LOVE”. During the weeks leading up to the gay marriage ban, I have a few conversations with my aunt and I finally hear a decent summation of what I have been trying to articulate: “If God exists and he doesn’t like gay marriage, it’s not our place to place judgement or dictate what people can’t do.” He gave us free will, didn’t he? We can go ahead and be “beacons” of resplendent behavior, but our scope of power doesn’t go further. Basically, I don’t think morality can or should be dictated. People just need to not be assholes to each other. Anyway, I vote no.
2008: I’m twenty. I take the 15 bus from the UW-Milwaukee Campus to the Shorewood library to cast my vote. It feels exciting to be a part of the election of the first black president. I feel like a part of history! I realize it’s a completely nonsense thought, but I go with it anyway. My boyfriend at the time tells me he voted for McCain. I tell him he’s kidding. He says no. I keep pushing, and eventually he says he was just kidding: he voted for Obama. A few years later, I realize that he actually did vote for McCain. This solidifies my assertion that he shouldn’t be my boyfriend.
2012: I’m twenty-four. Wisconsin has a recall election. I’m not very informed. I’m annoyed by democrats on campus. I think that it’s a good idea to get the state out of debt and I no longer see the purpose of unions. I vote for Scott Walker. SHUT UP, DEM FRIENDS. (Also, please don’t ostracize me. I love you guys.)
2012: Still twenty-four. My mom buys a Romney-Ryan sign and sticks it in her front yard. We get in an argument about abortion and I end up leaving her house late on a Friday night. I decide to not talk politics with her. A few weeks later, I’m in a meeting at work and my supervisors start talking about the election. The whole team starts in on a big conversation, leaning very heavily to the right. An upper-level manager looks me in the eye and says (in a tongue in cheek sort of way), “Ashley, you better hope you’re a republican, or I don’t know…” I swallow to calm my nerves before I respond. “I was always told there were four things not appropriate for polite conversation: sex, religion, politics, and Brett Favre,” I say. The room erupts into congenial laughter as we exit the conference room. After work, I black out an oval next to a funny name.
Nov 12, 2012, 10:30ish: I make a hoot, much like the one my dad makes when the Packers score.