Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Great Race

It's the Sunday before the 2008 Presidential Election. Just two days to go before the official election day, when we finally elect George W. Bush's replacement.

This has been the longest, as well as the most expensive, presidential campaign in history. It has also been one of the most exiting -- even with it's episodes of negativity and deception. And yes, there are serious issues of racism, voter suppression and concerns of voter fraud at the polls, but I can't recall the country this more energized and engaged about an election since that of John Kennedy. A public that has long been turned off by, and tuned out to, politics has caught election fever. Rallies with record-breaking attendance, the engagement by the young and the elderly alike are all positive developments, despite (because of?) the serious issues confronting the country post-election.

The problem is, it's like reading a page turner of a book. On the one hand, you don't want the enthralling story to end, yet it's exceedingly difficult not to peak at the end of the book to find out what happened.

This Larry David essay describes one of my LLWL officemates perfectly, who obsessively reads poll results several times daily, Waiting for Nov. 4th:

I can't take much more of this. . . I'm at the end of my rope. I can't work. I can eat, but mostly standing up. I'm anxious all the time and taking it out on my ex-wife, which, ironically, I'm finding enjoyable. This is like waiting for the results of a biopsy. Actually, it's worse. Biopsies only take a few days, maybe a week at the most, and if the biopsy comes back positive, there's still a potential cure. With this, there's no cure. The result is final. Like death.

Five times a day I'll still say to someone, "I don't know what I'm going to do if McCain wins." Of course, the reality is I'm probably not going to do anything. What can I do? I'm not going to kill myself. If I didn't kill myself when I became impotent for two months in 1979, I'm certainly not going to do it if McCain and Palin are elected, even if it's by nefarious means.

* * * *
Assuming November 4th ever comes, my big decision won't be where I'll be watching the returns, but if I'll be watching. I believe I have big jinx potential and may have actually cost the Dems the last two elections. I know I've jinxed sporting events. When my teams are losing and I want them to make a comeback, all I have to do is leave the room. Works every time. So if I do watch, I'll do it alone. I can't subject other people to me in my current condition. I just don't like what I've turned into -- and frankly I wasn't that crazy about me even before the turn.
The excitement and passion is, of course, tempered by the fear of failure that has been genetically engineered into the psyche of Democrats. I admit that I am an election anxiety sufferer, like Mitchell Bard, who worries about the outcome despite the positive polls, Obama Is Dominating in the Polls, but Four Things Keep Me Awake at Night:

We are one week from election day. Barack Obama leads John McCain in every poll. Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com gives Obama a 96.7 percent chance of winning. And some McCain supporters with a nose for survival are jumping off of the Republican bandwagon faster than Sarah Palin running to an Alaska consignment shop (yes, I'm talking to you Joe Lieberman).

And yet I can't bring myself to believe Obama will win next Tuesday.

You have to forgive me. As a 41-year-old Democrat, I've seen too much to ever be confident. I watched the nation choose a bumbling Bush (the first one) over a smart, successful governor, all because the governor was a bit of a nerd. Okay, a lot more than a bit, but still. (I often think about the Saturday Night Live sketch in which Jon Lovitz, as Michael Dukakis, in a debate with Dana Carvey's George H.W. Bush, responds to a nonsensical response by looking into the camera and saying, "I can't believe I'm losing to this guy!") I've seen Americans twice put into office a language-bungling, shallow-thinking, political legacy who, as was brilliantly said once, was born on third base but acted like he hit a triple (one of the elections coming after it was clear he had led America into a dangerous, damaging, unnecessary war that was completely mismanaged by his administration).

So you can at least understand why I won't believe that the U.S. has elected Obama until/if I see McCain giving a concession speech.

Notwithstanding the election anxiety, I also have to concede that the race has been thrilling and there is a twinge of regret that it is about to end.

Bill Maher talks about the Amazing Race in his Final New Rule, Best Election Ever, with a retrospective on Election 2008, as only he could do (followed by John Legend crooning a new tune, "If You're Out There").

video

(Video via onegoodmove)

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