Tuesday, October 7, 2008

For Better or Worse

I'm sure it's pretty easy to tell how I'm voting in this year's election, but for some reason I hadn't felt the need to spell it out. I'm quite passionate about my choice, but I haven't been shouting it from the rooftops and I certainly haven't been volunteering my time. Very unlike me.

So on Sunday I finally went for a volunteer training in preparation for the debate. It was great. I was overwhelmed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the people there. It's a feeling I hadn't felt in a while and one that I missed. So what took me so long? What's my problem? At some point it hit me. I'm gun shy. I've had a life-long love of political campaigns - especially presidential campaigns. But I've been burned. The presidential campaign process and I, well, we've had a pretty tumultuous relationship. Let's review:

1980 - Schoolgirl Crush
I was nine. I adored Jimmy Carter. On election night at the dinner table I begged my parents to tell me who they voted for. My father finally gave in and said "Reagan." I cried.

1984 & 1988 - Surly Teen Angst
My disdain for all-things-Reagan/Bush/Quayle continued but I had no faith that the adults in my country were capable of doing anything about it. Most of this phase in my relationship with politics was spent writing bad i'm-going-to-die-without-a-decent-president poetry and listening to angry music on my Walkman.

1992 - Annoying Co-Ed Infatuation
It was the first presidential election where I could vote. I was full of entirely too much pep. I did cartwheels when Al Gore was named Clinton's running mate. I bugged the beejeezus out of my one Republican roommate. I did all kinds of volunteering with the campus Dems. I was clingy, needy and ready to put me and my love for campaigning in a frame and paint our names on it in glitter.

1996 - True Love
I jumped head first into a super-serious relationship with the presidential campaign. That summer I worked part time for Rock the Vote. That fall I worked part time for the Clinton/Gore campaign and spent most of my free time as a volunteer. I spent every available moment with that campaign. We moved in together. We bought furniture and got a dog. Life was grand.

2000 - The Honeymoon Ends
Did I get too serious too soon? Did I misread the signs? Did I have a foolish and naive expectation when it came to Democracy and elections in our country? When the Gore/Leiberman campaign was too busy to pay as close attention to me as the last campaign I worried about what I had done. Was it because I no longer lived in a swing state? Was it something I said? My solution? I just kept shamelessly calling. We saw each other when there was time. I attended rallies and did some volunteering and even though it wasn't the relationship I really, really wanted, I knew that on election day it would all be worth it. It would all be OK.

Oh, but it wasn't. At some point on election night it all went to hell. My love of politics and presidential campaigns abandoned me on a street corner in downtown Nashville. Literally. (You'll hear that story another time.)

Over the next couple of weeks I held out some hope that things could be fixed and we'd go back to how it was supposed to be. But it didn't. I'm not good with break-ups and when Gore conceded the election I couldn't watch. I took a bubble bath and ate some ice cream. And very few days went by over the next four years where I didn't wake up angry.

2004 - Jilted and Bitter
Poor John Kerry. His campaign never really had my complete loyalty. I wanted it to work, but part of me knew it wasn't going to end well and that it was just my transitional campaign. After election day the angriness I had started each morning with for the last four years was pretty quickly replaced with four years of cynicism and disillusionment.

2008 - Ready to Try Again? Or Just Too Jaded?
So here I am. I don't come into this election lightly. I have a lot of baggage. I watched Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. I heard him speak in person in 2006. I knew that one day he would run for president - just not anytime soon. But he did. I voted for him in the primary even though I didn't think he'd get the nomination. But he did. I've been wary and hesitant and tried not to get too attached. But I am. And even though this is all written tongue-in-cheek I honestly don't know what I'll do if it ends up being another election like 2000. So I've tried to remain detached. But I can't. And then fate put a presidential debate in my own backyard and told me to just suck it up and get over myself.

So I did.

I went to the training on Sunday and then earlier tonight I met up with several hundred - possibly thousand - other Obama supporters from across our supposedly red state.

There was a march to Belmont's campus where the debate was being held:

And a rally on the quad:

With the exception of a small hand full of McCain supporters and third-party-activists, everyone was pro-Obama - and this is only half the crowd. I'm really not trying to exaggerate or be catty. I was expecting a far more even crowd, or frankly, to be outnumbered. Maybe there was a different area of campus where FoxNews was set up and the crowd was different, but where I was, it wasn't even close.

Before and after the debate our job was to stand around the MSNBC tent/stage and keep Chris Mathews "entertained" (he looks thrilled, doesn't he?) Check out the "Nash Vegas for Obama" sign behind his head. Ha. So much fun. Even in the pouring - and I mean POURING - rain.

I'll have many more photos available later but for now I am sleepy and soggy. Proud and inspired. For better or worse.
But very soggy nonetheless.

1 comment:

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I wondered if you were around there when I saw on tv that it took place in Nashville...

Very funny post. Kind of sums me up too, a little. Glad you're giving this another try, love is hard.