Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election day jitters

In 1994, I was a sophomore in college. I voted in the elections that year, of course, but I didn't follow politics very closely and I didn't have much sense of the importance of midterm elections (after all, if you got the right senators and congresspeople in office in your state, what did it matter what happened elsewhere?).

The morning after the elections I ran into Fred, an editor for the student publication for which I was then half-heartedly writing. Fred was very into politics. I had no idea yet who'd won back home, and if I'd heard on the radio about the "Republican Revolution," it didn't mean much to me--I mean, there was still a Democrat in the White House, right? As I got closer, I could see that Fred was wearing a dark suit and tie and some kind of thing on his arm.

"Hey, Fred." I said. "Nice--uh, nice suit."

"I'm in mourning," he announced, tossing his abnormally large head. Then he waited. When it became clear that I wasn't going to complete his sentence or start commiserating, he continued, ". . . at the Democrats' losing Congress. That's why I have my black armband on."

"Oh, yeah." I said. "Well, uh, too bad about that, huh?" And I kept walking, thinking, okay, dude.

Now, you can see right here why Fred went on to become (in no particular order) a Rhodes Scholar, a city councilman, a civil rights lawyer, and a clerk for the Supreme Court--while I'm a no-account blogger with lots of debt and no connections in an economically depressed corner of the country.

But people, I've learned! It's 12 years on, and I now care very much about the midterm elections--so much so that I'm obsessed with races in states I've never even visited, and I've hardly been able to plan my classes, what with clicking back and forth between websites these past 48 hours. I've got all kinds of fingers and toes crossed, and a bottle of Scotch at the ready for good news or bad.

(That being said? I still think that Fred is a tool.)


RageyOne said...

Sounds like Fred was similar to that Alex P. Keaton character that Michael J. Fox played on television. What was the name of that show?

Tenured Radical said...

The show was called Family Ties, and yes, he does. On the other hand, if we compromised ourselves by going into the academy, imagine how compromised Fred was having to hobnob with the likes of Antonin Scalia every day and pretend that every political issue was but another opportunity for reasoned intellecual debate. And the question is, did he know he was compromised?

I htink we should have told all the undergraduates, graduate students and faculty under age 40 that if the Dems won, Nancy Pelosi planned to forgive student loans in the first 100 days. In fact, if Nancy Pelosi were really on it, she would have come up with that idea herself and planned to do it.

Flavia said...

Well, the crucial difference is that Fred was and is intensely liberal, and Alex P. Keaton was a Reaganite. (And I don't think I'd ever seen Fred in a suit before that day.) But you're still right: no matter how much I might agree with Fred's politics (and admire his accomplishments in the abstract), there's something depressing about the reality of politics and tiresome about so many of the people who go into it.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but Alex P. Keaton was actually my first celebrity crush--not Michael J. Fox, but that character. I blame this fact entirely for my shameful past history of attraction to annoyingly conservative men. (And yes: annoyingness WAS one of the qualifications, since you ask.)

Professor B said...

I know what you mean, Flavia - I have been glued to electoral-vote.com for a few weeks now, even though I am safely ensconced in a blue-state haven. In a way it was kind of sad - most of the races on my ballot this morning were uncontested democrats. Our gubernatorial race isn't really that close, but that hasn't stopped what is anticipated to be record turnout here.

I have been following the races in my home state of PA, which has of late been represented by politicians much more conservative than I feel the people they represent, which looks to be changing this election cycle - a sort of collective realization of that disparity.

But yeah, why do I care about senate races in Missouri, Tennessee, and Virginia? Well, I guess two years of *nothing* getting done is better than continuing down the path we've collectively been shoved down!

Anonymous said...

And perhaps not coincidentally, "Alex P. Keaton" was one of my nicknames in junior high (not a compliment).

Another good thing that televisions has brought into my life.


Anonymous said...

Well, sleeping/tricking with the Alex Keatons of the world is one thing, but actually having a conversation with one (much less actually marrying one) is a whole 'nother kettle o' fish sticks: thanks, but uh, no thanks!

This is the glory of gay casual sex, of course. You can experience the most mind-blowing intimacies of the body without sharing a word, much less a political programme.