written November 7, 2012
Shenandoah Elementary, a few blocks north from Magnolia Avenue in St. Louis, was in full swing by five in the evening to vote, when May and I (she choosing to make it a party with hip hop in my car while waiting). A good turnout in the dizzily night, all waiting patiently. I was a little curious if I, a new Missourian, would appear in the books, but sure enough I was. Of the three touchscreen machines only one worked. Like May would soon agree, a feeling of satisfaction greeted me as I felt the polling place. All that was left after so many months was the returns.
May cooked the usual vegetable pasta masterpiece, “a recipe from the back of the box” that may have been a way to hold out a bit longer from the television’s judgment. Being us we chose the PBS Newshour to unroll the news throughout the next five hours. By eight the East Coast was revealing its red/blue intentions, Romney taking an earlier lead. Soon the map began to fill, but none were surprisers. We passed the time with the usual chat, tease, and barbs. An excited squeeze and squeal from the girl greeted Obama’s capture of Wisconsin. The other tossups would begin to pileup: New Hampshire, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, Virginia. By this time, just before eleven, it was only a matter of time before the president was again pushed over 270. High five.
Did you know May’s lineage quite possibly includes the presidential Harrison family? It has faded from my mind. She told within minutes of meeting me at Sasha’s, apparently this being the “one thing to offer” the history buff sitting across the table. “I’m related to the shortest termed president” she quizzed; I backhanded this impressive tidbit with “So you’re related to two Presidents then.” (It’s my passion…) Grabbing a book from my collection last night, we looked up the highlights of both William’s 30 days and Benjamin’s one term.
Suddenly the crowd at McCormick Place in Chicago burst into cheers. Ohio had been called for Obama, effectively sealing the night. One happy embrace, and two releases of breath. Really, tonight was a first ending of our initial era, as I stated to May, remembered by us as the background and creeping in of the 2012 Election. Perhaps then we will think of Romney as the good old days? Perhaps not (“I just don’t like his face!” often says someone). The evening stretched into early today, Romney waiting 90 minutes to appear by himself to the Boston crowd. As an aside, it is becoming all the more noticeable that it will be vital for the Republicans to cast off their 20th century mentality (Romney’s support was 88% white) in the new reality. May missed most of the brief remarks, beginning as she made she way back to Southtown past midnight, just catching an “inspiring concession.” Good night, Mitt, and hello again Mr. President.
* * * * *
It’s about the kids. Those four words were worth remembering as I waited this morning at Collinsville’s Fireman Hall, in truth a cavernous, dingy bingo parlor that seemed to excel at offering domestic pilsner and bare bones coffee. The freshman were to take the Explorer test, to help gauge future career possibilities, and I was assigned to help proctor the long exercise throughout the day. I spoke quickly with the principal Mr. Flor, asking him the tally for freshman stretched endlessly in front of me. 583, he said, the largest ever. A long way away from Elmwood’s 199 school total and my own class’s 44-person total.
During the hours of testing my mind drifted, thinking back to last night’s election, and the new reality of a second term. As a baseline, I wagered Ulysses S. Grant the worst full-two-term president, due to the a second-term lousy with corruption. The word “mandate” has of course surfaced, and the Huffington Post sputtering about a “new liberal America.” Get a hold of yourself- this is how the road leads to Grant. In the opposite version of Reality, Fox News is blaring the headline “Bias: Obama Wins With Backing of Media Supporters.” Whatever gets you through the night, I suppose. Yet this morning’s confused conservatives have clearly been victimized by their own messaging. Tonight’s Daily Show summed up the shock resulting from listening to your own echo chamber (honestly, whatever the source), John Stewart honing in on Megyn Kelly’s quoted question to a befuddled Karl Rove: “Math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better.” I was tiring of the campaign by mid-October as many (most?), disappointed by the superficial nature of debate.
Now the evening, May is now busy looking up her father’s family on Ancestry to verify the Harrison theory. This was, she told me, used as a break during her Henry Jamesian/music/multiplicity doctoral work. Not having talked since the pinnacle of victory last night, she related tonight that she felt Obama’s speech had been about moving forward yet was “not over the top.” She was also relieved throughout today, and “happy for him. This is good.” And with that coda I will move on from election talk, for the betterment of us all.
If you happened to miss out on the entire year of 2012 and need some more context, here is the first segment of the piece, “The Election of 2012 Part I: The Man of Hopes and Dreams Resided on Earth the Entire Time, But That’s Okay.”