Tuesday, November 2, 2004
For the first time ever, I’m on my way to go vote. In
order to ensure sufficient time to participate in the democratic
process, I’m skipping my 10 a.m. film screening in order to
give myself sufficient time to wait in line, argue with volunteers,
get into fistfights with Bush supporters during exit polls.
I’ve armed myself with my voter registration card, three
backup forms of ID, the new Le Tigre album and a big-ass travel mug
of coffee. I feel like an inexorable political force as I head over
to my polling place, Community High School, only a few blocks away
on North Division St.
The only remarkable thing I notice is that it’s cloudy and
cold out; otherwise, people seem to go about their business
normally. Almost every student-looking person I pass wears a Kerry
pin or sports a “No on 2” sticker on their backpack,
and those walking back towards campus wear “I Voted”
stickers. Headphones and hoodie in place, about to participate in
my first local, state and national election, I push open a door
marked “Polling Place.” Even as I pass high school
students in the halls, I feel uncomfortably young, like maybe the
system wasn’t made for someone like me.
That’s it. I’m done. There was no line, the
volunteers found my name on the voter rolls with ease, and
amazingly enough, I didn’t spill coffee on my ballot. I faced
off briefly with a younger volunteer who espied a tiny pin on the
strap of my bag that features Bush getting hit in the head with a
cassette tape and ordered me to remove my “campaign
Otherwise, everything went off without a hitch. Connect the
front of the arrow to the back of the arrow a few times, make sure
I got all the questions on both sides, and stand around looking
confused. Finally an elderly volunteer tells me to insert my ballot
into a slot in an equally elderly-looking machine. Reminds me of
Scan-Trons in high school — I suppose the voting process
isn’t as removed from real life as I thought.
As I walk back to campus, I place my “I Voted”
sticker above a “John Kerry for President” pin,
creating a complete sentence describing what I did today.
I’m on the bus to the grocery store. I’ve got to use
this gray expanse of afternoon to DO something, be active. Although
I’ve got reading and homework to do, and a column to write, I
feel a greater sense of agency committing a real action, like
purchasing stuff. Besides, all I’ve got in my pantry is stale
Special K and a Tupperware full of pureed pumpkin.
Haven’t heard any results yet, but I’m still
optimistic. While I’m no activist, it’d be difficult to
find someone who harbors as much bitterness and disgust for the
Bush administration and its policies as I do. John Kerry
isn’t perfect, but so many people seem fed up with Bush. The
long lines, the unprecedented turnout of blue-collar voters in
swing states — I really think we can win.
I want to be able to call up my friends, my parents, and
celebrate Kerry’s victory with them. I want to be able to
feel some kind of power over the slimy creeps who’ve spent
the past four years lying to Americans and pissing off the rest of
the world, I want to feel the weight — because fear and anger
are really heavy — go away.
A lot of people seem especially chipper because of the election.
The middle-aged woman at the register in Kroger applauds my
“patriotism” when she sees my pin. My bank teller
regales me with the story of how she had to wait in line for an
hour at 7:30 a.m. and asks genuinely how my experience went. Maybe
it’s just me, but I’m feeling a little anxious.
Stuck. Glued to the couch, eyes on the TV. Completely unable to
think about anything else. I flip between the networks and the
cable channels, looking for the easiest-to-understand graphics of
poll data. I settle on CNN, even though there’s no news to
report. Some old guy just tied Shakespeare’s political ideas
to the 2004 election. I take a break and switch to the Food
I’m still on the couch, wrapped in a blanket. There are
tears in my eyes. Pennsylvania just went to Kerry, but I can
already tell it’s over. Analysts create potential scenarios,
grouping red or blue states together like a puzzle. New Mexico,
Oregon, Wisconsin and Ohio could to Kerry. Maine’s leftover
electoral vote could decide the election. In 2000, such-and-such
was a factor.
There were still hundreds of people waiting to vote when the
Ohio polls closed a few hours ago. Maybe we’ll pull through
Wednesday, November 3, 2004
NBC has called Ohio for Bush. They’ll continue this
bullshit for hours, I know, but it really is over. It was close,
but we got shut down, our asses beaten, the shit kicked out of us.
We lost. It hurts worse than real bruises and broken bones.
Better luck next time, right?