As election night draws near
One of my favorite entries on this site is the 2001 entry, Southern political girl. It has remained one of my favorite tidbits I've ever posted on my site, and every election cycle brings it back to memory. I have always liked it for its remembrance of the collision of national politics with everyday life; how I saw that particular election from a viewpoint that was different from most of my fellow citizens.
He was us. Not 'one of us.' That implied a separation, and a symbolism. As the campaign had worn on, and the half-spoken, half-insinuated comments about Arkansas had mounted in the press, Clinton was no longer just a man from our state, our flawed but charismatic governor (love him or hate him), running for president…he was us. He was our way of thumbing our noses at a nation that thought they were too good to acknowledge a state full of barefoot uneducated rednecks—and making them vote for us because what we offered was better than anything they could offer.
- 'Southern political girl,' January 2001
Every presidential election night since then, I stop. I think about that night, standing in a crowd of people in front of the Old State House. I think about where I have gone in my life since then. I think about where my country has gone since then. I could have predicted neither. While my trajectory seems logical when viewed in reverse, I would never have predicted my life as it stands now. I never would have predicted my country as it stands now, either.
It is hard not to compare what is happening now with what was happening then. The world is closer, sometimes scarier, but I recognize the problems of those around me, while deep and devastating, are fiscal but not life-threatening. It is easy to look backwards with a halcyon eye and forget that no decade comes without worry and uncertainty, but I feel comfortable in saying that the average American taxpayer is staring worry and uncertainty from a far closer vantage point than s/he was then.
I'm temporarily bumping 'Southern political girl' back to the front page of domesticat.net because of a question Adam asked me tonight: "Is this what it feels like to win?" My initial answer was to tell him yes, and to point to that entry, but a realization shortly after put his question in context for me. Our politics, for the most part, are quite similar, but by being a few years younger than me, his adult political life has been shaped almost entirely by the Bush years.
Hard to imagine, really. A president that, at least for a little while, I won't have to apologize for? Eight years of Bush has done that to me. I have spent eight years alternating between polite disdain and outright horror of our current [vice-]president and his actions. A clean slate would be nice. At this point, I think a talking zucchini would be better. (Also potentially better at diplomacy, as long as it doesn't oppress the cauliflower like it keeps muttering about.)
I could use a little centrism for a while.
Anyhow, for those of you who missed the original entry, enjoy. The 24-year-old me who wrote it, and the 16-year-old who lived it, can both still be found in the 32-year-old who will gather once more with her friends to watch national political theater unfold in real time on Tuesday night.