I wrote the following in early November 2006. I reprise it now as both a cautionary tale of taking things for granted, and a bitter memory of that early November night four years ago. Remember that night, the eve before our one-term buffoon "W" was most certain to be dethroned? The evening before the evening that kicked our stomach so hard the scars have yet to really heal? Hearken back to that day seemingly so long ago...yet....
November 6, 2006:
About two years ago tonight I was plopped down before C-SPAN watching John and Teresa Heinz-Kerry introduce Bruce Springsteen at a huge election-eve rally in Cleveland. The Boss praised the Kerry's for a bit, then sang "Thunder Road" in the chilly wind of an early November in northern Ohio. Even in the single-camera world of C-SPAN it was clear that the audience was ebullient and confident. Only a few hours remained until the Democrats would take back Ohio, the Electoral College and the country.
I sat there watching and it was hard not to get choked up.
For the roughly half of us who saw the George W. Bush years 2001-2004 as one continuous collective surreal nightmare, Election Eve '04 was like a combination of Christmas Eve and the night before the Prom rolled up together. We knew the next day was gonna be great, just knew it, but a frail, small voice within us wondered "what if it's not as great as we think it will be?"
Then The Boss sang about "Mary" and her dancing "across the porch as the radio plays" and that inner voice was easily subdued. Even for some of us more cynical types.
After months and months and months and years of waiting, maybe Kerry really could win. Okay, we weren't that excited about Kerry...he seemed about as much like us as the cartoon aliens on "The Simpsons", he was richer than most South American countries, his sense of humor was somewhere between Margaret Dumont and Anderson Cooper. But he wasn't Bush, and he was what we had, and Bruce was singing to him and his wife and 100,000 or so chilly people in a state we had to win. Just had to.
Many of us woke up not only happy because of a day off, but because we had somehow become convinced it was gonna be the first glorious day of the rest of our soon-to-be-George W. Bush-less life. It was especially great to be in New Mexico, because we happened to be living in a state where votes mattered. It was gonna be close, but we were gonna prevail. A bit of work, a dash of worry, and then a loud, and somewhat boozy chorus of "Born in the U.S.A." when it was clear we had taken the country back. It was gonna be great, small voice be damned.
It was gonna be great, and then it wasn't.
Which brings us to Burque Babble's Rockin' Election Eve: 2006. LIke any good soap opera, the plot really hasn't moved that much forward in the last two years. We're here again, the night before something potentially fantastic, almost probably so, really. At least one house of Congress should go to the Democrats, and while that's not the same as giving W the personal boot, it's as close as we're gonna get until that happy day in late January 2009 when he slithers out of D.C. for good. We've got a shot not only to smash the congressional rubber stamp, but to make a electorally verified statement to the world that we aren't quite as crazy as we appeared back in '04.
But we're also two years older, and just two years removed from the stomach punch that was '04. So we are filled to overflowing with worry. We obsess on the magic of Karl Rove, the dark mysteries of Republican GOTV, the villainous shenanigans of "Robocalls" and electronic voting. We also think way back, to 2000 and the mother of all villainous shenanigans, where the Republican GOTV for nine robed justices far surpassed the Democrats.
For a few months after Election Eve '04 I avoided anything having to do with politics. Like many others, I investigating relocating to other parts of the world, read with amusement web sites created to provide U.S. citizens with photographic proof to the rest of the world that not every American was crazy, and rehabilitated my perforated stomach through a steady diet of politics-free news.
I don't remember exactly what drug me back into caring, what combination of event and personal healing brought me back to following things political again. But here I am tonight, stomach scarred and acidic, trying to stay brave and face another Election Eve of hope and apprehension.
A few things are different. First, I'm avoiding C-SPAN like a karaoke bar. Not risking that again. Second, I'm trying real hard to avoid any contact with any blog this evening, regardless of how politiporn sexy the many "Robocall" voter suppression blogthreads are. Just a quiet night here with the family....at least that's the idea.
Third, and most obvious/important: we won't get fooled again. Or should I say, I won't. Like the guy who's prom night date leads only to a soul crushing break-up, I'm not emotionally investing myself in the Madrid/Wilson race. I'm not gonna go into a multi-month fugue state if the Democrats don't take a house of Congress. I'm gonna just keep remembering those really corny lines from really corny songs like, "The Sun will come out tomorrow" from "Annie" and "There's got to be a morning after" from the original "Poseidon Adventure".
Yes, I realize that humming these horrible songs to one's self is probably worse than just about any possible pain caused by a election defeat, but you didn't see the condition of my punched stomach on Election Night '04. Even songs from "Annie" don't compare with the ugliness that night produced.
So, Happy Rockin' Election Eve: 2006 everybody! May we all enjoy tomorrow as the great expression of democracy it so certainly is, and have a blast following all the wacky results about 24 hours from now. Regardless. Really.
P.S.: Like all of us, especially those one-day unemployed teacher types who have "Election Day" off, I'm gonna throw some wild-ass "prognostications" out tomorrow morning about everything from Senator Obama to NM Constitutional Amendment #5. Meanwhile, I'm going to sleep tonight thinking better thoughts than I ever did in '06 or '04. Still, remember November 6, 2006? How can we not remember that?