06 November 2012

The 2012 election night anticlimax.

Okay, I didn’t get round to posting my views on the other California ballot propositions. That experiment tanked; and really, I didn’t care for how politics-heavy it made this blog. Best to concentrate all the political ranting into a single post. Well, next election.

I voted for Barack Obama. As in ’08, he’s the lesser of two evils. Bluntly, Mitt Romney is a liar. He will say anything to get elected; he’ll be pro-choice to win Massachusetts and pro-life to win the Republican nomination. He lied far more than that, but that was plenty. If a liar tells you everything you want to hear, it makes no difference; he’s still a liar. Can’t trust him; can’t vote for him. While I can’t agree with many things Obama stands for, he explained why he stands for them, I respect his reasons, I respect him as a person, so he got my vote. (Not like it matters, thanks to the Electoral College, but that’s another rant.) I want a president with character. Romney lacks it.

I voted for other offices for much the same reason. I was looking for character more than politics. You all know I have nothing but contempt for the libertarian philosophy, but when I find them, I will even vote for libertarians who demonstrate consistency of character. (Well, provided the conservative or progressive alternative is flaky.)

Tomorrow, after the final tallies are in, I’ll rant about how the voting went. I’m expecting Obama to be reelected, but one never knows. Maybe Fox News’s pundits are right in saying every single poll is wrong. It’d be a first. But anyway.

Made the mistake of responding to people’s Facebook comments about the election. Yeah, I should know better. Some of them have absolutely no clue as to how to civilly disagree with others. It always degrades into, “I am right and you are dumb.” Yeah, I accuse libertarians of being self-centered on a pretty regular basis, but honestly everyone is self-centered. My problem with libertarians is that they excuse it, revel in it, and want to base society on it. At least the rest of us, conservatives and progressives alike, know better than to indulge it. Although we’re often hypocrites about how much we actually do indulge it.

No, I’m not planning to watch the internet all night long to see how the polls are going. I might check it briefly before bed. But I’ll probably just read the results (as of press time, anyway) in the morning newspaper.

Ah, press time. My first election—I call it that, but I actually wasn’t old enough to vote yet—was in November 1988, when the first George Bush was elected president. I was fresh out of high school and working as the Vacaville Reporter’s newsroom intern. My job was to sit at the county clerk’s office and phone the results in to the Reporter.

There are worse jobs an intern can get, but not many. It was so boring. This was about five years before the World Wide Web, and a decade before cell phones were less than $1,000. So it worked like this: I brought a landline phone, which I got to plug into one of the county’s spare phone lines. Other reporters occupied the other lines. Every hour or so, a large dot-matrix printout, with all the races they’d tabulated so far, was given to each reporter. There were only certain races the Reporter cared about, so I had to take my sheet, hop on the phone, and read the relevant names and numbers to my editor, Brian. He’d update the front page.

Yeah, you’d think the reporters would hang out and shoot the breeze with one another, but we were all competitors and didn’t really know one another. Two guys had brought their Macintoshes (the old ’80s style Mac; laptops didn’t exist yet either) and they spent their time playing video games. The rest had brought magazines and books. I hadn’t been told what to expect, so I came unprepared, with nothing to do. So I read every single last bit of stray reading material in the building. I think at one point I even read the phone book.

There was another reporter there, working for KUIC 95.3 FM. He hadn’t brought a phone, so he kept asking to borrow mine. Earlier in the evening, I let him, ’cause I knew the press wasn’t rolling till much later, and I knew his stuff was going out a lot faster than the Reporter’s stuff. (Remember, no Web yet.) Later I had him wait.

Nowadays, all that stuff goes on the Internet, and the interns can go back to doing far less boring news-gathering. Like obituaries, or rewriting press releases so they sound less like press releases. Whatever.

Since then I’ve missed only two elections. Both were ’cause of school. One was the 1990 midterm election, which I missed because I was in Sacramento and couldn’t back to Vacaville before the polls closed. The other was the 2004 presidential election, which I missed because I had stupidly not applied for an absentee ballot while I was in Santa Cruz for grad school.

The last presidential election was interesting. Not just ’cause of the results: Because of expected voter turnout, the clerk had moved the election from the Scotts Valley Fire Department to St. Augustin Catholic Church. The polls were on either side of a big room… right underneath a big statue of Jesus on the one end, and a big statue of his mom on the other. Both the statues stared down at you—lovingly, but still—while you voted. So if you weren’t voting your conscience, you might have a few flashbacks of Catholic guilt.

I had a French class in downtown Santa Cruz, so I voted, then went to class. Class got out around 8:30, right about the time the first election returns were coming in. People were rejoicing about Obama’s election already; Santa Cruz is full of white people, but they’re liberal white people, and loved the idea that we’re a country that can elect a black man president—regardless of whether they had voted for him. More than a few had voted instead for one of those third-party hippies they’re so fond of.

My conservative friends totally don’t understand this, ’cause they just assume we are such a country; we didn’t need to elect a black man in order to prove it. Particularly this black man; they wanted a Republican. Of course, having spent 20 years in the Republican party and having heard what some of the leaders have privately said about black people, I’m sometimes amazed any Republican candidates aren’t white. I backed Alan Keyes in the 1996 primaries, and I won’t repeat some of the things my fellow Republicans said about him. I’ll just say it definitely wasn’t the party of Abraham Lincoln that year. I’ve been told things have changed in the last 10 years since I’ve left. I certainly hope so, but it tends to take 20 years for these things to completely turn over.

Well, enough about that. The denizens of Santa Cruz spent a lot of time whooping and hollering, and it was fun to watch, but I went home and did my French homework, and c’est tout.