Allow me to preface this article by saying that I’m the absolute worst person in the world to have a horse in any race.
Whether it’s sports, politics or a county fair chili cook-off, the “impassioned observer” has never really been a role that I’ve been able to take on. This isn’t to say that I’m just another Little League dad who’s heckling the umpire the entire time, though.
In a lot of ways, I’m the consummate Michigan fan: I don’t believe that any victory is secured until the very last second, I’m constantly underselling my team and, in the event of a close contest, my stomach is busy performing an Olympic gymnastics routine. So yes, despite the fact that it was 11:40 p.m., and numerous major news outlets projected President Barack Obama passing 270 electoral votes, I still couldn’t help but be a little worried. This is, after all, my first rodeo in terms of presidential elections. Surely something, anything, could happen to reverse this victory. Maybe New Jersey’s last-second voters would swoop in and steal the state away from the President. Perhaps the remaining eight percent of Florida will swing toward Romney. I know that it sounds ridiculous, but this doesn’t feel right.
Is it wrong for me to be a little skeptical given how tense I’ve been feeling the last few days? All the weight we held on our shoulders — the concern that our guy, whether it was the president or Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, wasn’t going to pull it out — was wiped away in a matter of minutes. As early as 8:45 p.m. this evening, I sat in the Union’s University Club where a roomful of buzzing students eagerly awaited the results, and all of us, whether internally or externally, were nervous wrecks. Electoral victories projected by CNN elicited just as many groans as they did cheers.
Eventually, as I exited this beehive, the race began to take a more substantial shape. Just before 11 p.m., Romney led Obama by one electoral vote. Watching the proceedings from the comfort of a friend’s sofa, I went upstairs to grab a glass of water, came back down and, suddenly, Obama had 253 votes. A few minutes after that, CNN called Obama the winner.
I, and the other fellow Democrats with whom I was digesting this information, sat in stunned silence. Even around midnight there was still an air of uneasiness with the result. Where were the hugs and raucous celebrations? Why weren’t we running into the streets, ripping off our clothes and proclaiming victory for an America where Paul Ryan doesn’t control its collective uterus?
Of course, the payoff could never quite equal what it took to get there. On Tuesday morning, technical difficulties and a line out to Main Street had me waiting for nearly two and a half hours before I could finally cast my vote. It was never in question whether or not I was going to fill out my ballot, but the amount of time that went into the whole ordeal certainly deepened my attachment to the result. As children, we blindly follow the allegiances of our parents when we watch an election. This time around, it was my voice that was being counted, and I’ll be damned if I said that didn’t mean something to me.
So yes, maybe I expected a little too much in terms of how we’d all react. Far be it from me to say that life can be more than a little anti-climactic at times. But it’s not always about receiving that instant gratification that so many of us crave in these monumental moments. In the case of an election as pivotal as this, it’s about being able to wake up tomorrow, and the next day, and every one after that for the next four years and feel genuinely optimistic about the country that you love. To my Republican friends — who couldn’t be reached for comment, by the way — I assure you, you’ll get your chance. For now, though, my horse won by a nose.
Gus Turner is an LSA junior.