Two Novembers ago, I was working as an Elections Legal Observer for the Obama campaign at a crowded megachurch gym in a particularly rural, definitely red part of Ohio. My mom joined me for the day but, as a nonvoter (either a non-citizen or a convicted felon, take your pick), was confined to staying outside the polling place and watching the line.
The other legal observers, who came from all over the US to participate in Ohio poll-watching, got cushy slots helping college students figure out how to vote in my hometown. For whatever reason, maybe since I’m a native to the region, I got stuck out in Bush country working with elderly poll workers who were very clear how hostile they were to me.
We were there from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and then had to face an hour-long drive back home. Via NPR, we learned that Obama had won Ohio somewhere on the Route 33 Interstate. Driving at a high speed as my mother slept, I couldn’t even break out into a celebratory dance, or jump up and down or anything, and really I was so tired that my main concern was staying awake.
We pulled into my parents house just as McCain was making his concession speech, turned the radio on inside (no tv) to hear Obama’s moving victory speech, and then passed out.
The wave of euphoria that swept the nation, the feeling of belonging to the leader of the nation’s politics for the first time in my adult life, going down to DC for the inauguration, these are wonderful memories, if a little hard to really do justice to two years later.
This time around, I’ve been less involved, limited mostly to staying informed and voting in New York for the first time. (This is partly because of my new job responsibilities, and partly because there aren’t any close elections to get involved with). Oh, I also signed Jimmy McMillan of the Rent is 2 Damn High party’s petition to get on the ballot, so there’s that.
Predicting that tonight is going to be brutal for the Dems, and not wanting to spend the night glued to my laptop, I have made plans for a night out in my old neighborhood, Carroll Gardens. Anthony and I will eat at one of our favorite Italian places (Fragole, which, conveniently, has half-priced wine nights on Tuesdays) and then head over to my favorite New York bar, Bar Great Harry. I will leave my internet-enabled phone at home and try to generally stay uninformed until we have to go home.