Let’s call the whole thing off

31 10 2010

Oh god, another election.

I can’t listen to the radio—I was glad that last week was WNYC’s fall fund drive, which meant continual (and amusing) Alec Baldwin interruptions—and skim over any and all election forecasts, punditry, analyses, and general media wankery about What This Election Means.

What This Election Means? It’s a midterm election following an historical presidential race (which itself followed a terrible two-term presidency) and occurring amidst a recession.  Marginal seats picked up two years ago get lost, and high unemployment tends to leave voters with a throw-the-bums-out sensibility.

What It Means: Duck Duck Goose.

You would prefer A Referendum on The President? Maybe. Whatever. A meaningless conjecture, insofar as Obama is not up for reelection this time around, and because the man has two years in which to spiff himself up and make himself all attractive again to voters.

I know all this; so why am I particularly down on this round of elections?

Because my side is gonna lose big? Pfft, I’m used to losing, and these Dems are not so much ‘my side’ as they are actively not-against me. That’s nice, and valuable, but with the exception of Russ Feingold, that bitter little heart I mentioned two posts ago ain’t gonna break for the loss of any of ’em.

No, I’m just old. Or I started bingeing on politics at too young an age, and now I have, finally, had enough.

I remember Reagan’s election—oh, hell, I can remember Nixon’s election in ’72, but I don’t recall having any particular thoughts about it at the time—and remember thinking Oh, This Is Very Bad.

And his second election? Not a surprise, but a blow, nonetheless. That was the first campaign I worked on, the first one which I experienced close-up: I was part of the crew which helped prep a huge Mondale/Ferraro rally on the steps of the Capitol in Madison. Every moment not in class I was at campaign headquarters, and I worked hard enough and long enough and smart enough to earn a ‘backstage’ (actually, off-limits areas of the Capitol) badge.

SmallTown hick working Big Time politics. Exhilarating.

Then, the morning after the rally, I got on a bus to take part in an anti-nuke march in Chicago. Didn’t know a soul there, so I was able to sidle up by myself to the stage and listen to Jesse Jackson and Helen Caldicott (and my memory says Petra Kelly but I think my memory is imagining things) and take in the muted misty day.

Then, the day after that, I got on a bus to Milwaukee to hear Gloria Steinem speak.

Hell of a weekend.

And probably the high point of my political involvement. I have attended other rallies (including two tits-freezing anti-war marches in Montreal in 2003) and worked on other campaigns, but I was never so involved as that semester of college.

Okay, there was the time we marched down Bascom Hill and into the Capitol to protest the state’s investment in companies that did business in South Africa and ended up occupying the rotunda for two weeks, but even then, I didn’t sleep there the entire time (marble is cold and uncomfortable).

No, I started pulling back even in college, and with the exception of two (failed) union drives in grad school, even more so in grad school. I had been aghast when an undergrad pol sci prof mentioned that most political scientists aren’t that interest in politics; now, I was beginning to understand.

I did give it one more go, tho’: In the run-up to the 2004 election I felt like I had to do something, so although I loved Montreal and had the chance to extend my post-doc, I said, No, I can’t be on the sidelines for this election: I gotta go back to the States and campaign.

Which I did. And which I hated. And which, of course, came to naught.

(I sometimes wonder if part of my disdain for Boston is a cover for my own self-contempt for making the stupid decision to leave my beautiful Montreal labyrinth for the dull and crabby snarl of The Hub. Christ.)

So now? Now I vote, because, you know, I should vote. And I pay attention because, you know, I should pay attention.

I’m in my forties and I’ve been voting and paying attention for thirty years and I’ll keep voting and paying attention for the next forty or thirty years.

It’s just that that used to excite me; now it just wears me out.

(h/t to BenjaminTheAss, who hasn’t given up.)