By Favio Snimp on November 6, 2008
(Ed. note: Correspondent Favio Snimp David Swift takes us through a sleepless, tense and ultimately surreal Election Day experience in Teton County, Wyoming.)
So far, Election Day sucks. It’s 3:51 a.m. I can’t sleep. It’s that greedy kid on Christmas Eve feeling. A shock amps me more. I am shocked that I cannot coolly slumber into This Most Important Day Because Maybe The 21st Century Will Start, Finally.
It turns out, I desperately want Obama, Gary and all-round intelligence to win this thing. I mean, Republidudes. You’ve had your ideal nirvana perfect-market-system Bush-led government for eight years. A couple of weeks ago we passed $10 trillion in debt. Yesterday is was $500 billion deeper, halfway to $11 trillion.
Can we have a stab at running government this time? No way can we do worse.
It’s called brain chatter. Instead of getting that restful sleep a body needs, I started composing in the noggin snotty comebacks to the wingnuts:
“America deserves a president who knows how to dance. And when.”
“Define ‘victory in Iraq.’ What does it look like? Do we have a parade?”
I started composing the thank-you ad for Jim Roscoe with a little starburst in the lower right reading, “and special thanks to MH of South Grumpus whose … intensity sent a lot of kind, friendly voters our way!”
(Outsider note re “MH”: I could be wrong about this, but I am guessing that the person who signs local letters to editors “Marti Halverson,” overworked belches of bad information thrust forward on a bloody pitchfork, got that way due to an addiction to corn syrup and Fox News.)
Know what? Sitting here — rain nicely pounding roof — writing ugly-hysterical stuff designed to humiliate a single person feels good. More than good. Righteous. Marti, I apologize. You’ve got a swell thing going, feeling so righteous time and again! O the pleasure of wounding with words someone you’ve never met.
It’s 4:27 a.m., Rachel Maddow is cracking wise and I get the distinct impression that someone who sticks pins in a voodoo doll feels just the way I do. Bwa-haha! We grab power in January. We will retain power indefinitely by constantly screaming ugly things at the opposition and bullying “the media” into treating our tantrums as serious discussion. Marti, you’ve shown us the way.
The only problem is, those damned liberals are always thinking for themselves, doubting and futzing in their silly urge to be not only correct but right. The trusty technique of repeating ad nauseam emotional, semi-coherent bromides — “talking points” — as dispensed daily by Fox News will not work for liberals. Nor will it be easy to get liberals to conduct a massive collective fainting spell over manufactured outrage. Liberals are too comfortable with the idea of an ambiguous world.
So if Obama and Gary win (and that is precisely why I cannot sleep: I do not know that either will win) perhaps some Modern, Smart Politics & Good Government brand will be born. The wingnuts will keep loudly hatin’ but if we succeed, a lot of stupid people low-information voters will become addicted to the brand, leaving the Right Wing Crazycrats behind.
I guess my question is, do we keep all the stupid people low-information voters in our camp by subjecting them to the constant hate they became accustomed to hearing? Is hate like corn syrup? The system craves more?
I got a solid three hours snooze, made it to the polls by 9. Gary Trauner’s campaign had poll watchers — hi, friends! — and there was no line. However, the sweet lady who greeted voters and pointing the way, said that there were dozens of people lined up out the door by 7 a.m. Excitement!
I took my ballot and felt kinda misty. Barack’s name was the very first item. I put black pen to oval and slowly, carefully colored it in. It felt wonderful.
I’ve been voting since 1976. This is the second time I’ve approved of a major party’s presidential candidate. (The first was Gore.) I despise our two-party system, which is more like 1.33 parties and which is corrupt as the day is long. I’ve usually voted Libertarian, wishing that bunch would catch fire.
Then I headed for Trauner’s headquarters to get my marching orders, a list of some 50 doors to knock on. At HQ there was a buzz, a consensus: hardly anyone slept last night, seesawing between hope and fear.
It was simple, a nice walk. Either I talked to someone who had already voted, or who was headed out the door to vote, or mostly no one.I’d leave a door hanger with a personal note (“We need you today!”).
It had rained all night but the weather was shifting in either direction. Reminded me of my atheist friend who had gotten his climbing party benighted, pinned next to a waterfall in Zion National Park. They huddled and shivered as it rained on them all night long. Near dawn my friend screamed, “God, you know I’ve always denied your existence. This is your chance. If you exist, make it stop raining!”
It stopped raining. It started snowing.
Just like it did as I canvassed. Note to campaign workers in 2010: try to avoid inkjet printers for alfresco volunteers.
Can’t nap and it’s stupid to watch TV news at this point. All natter, no matter. No, wait! There’s Comedy Central Fox News! They seldom disappoint.
Sure enough, two clowns in PA claiming to be “black panthers” are looking big and dark and mean at the doorway to some polling place. That’s drear we can believe in! Fox News is all over this flaccid non-story — over and over and over. Marti, are you feeling Fox’s daily fear-point, God love ya?
Colleen just showed up from Trauner HQ with a passle of phone numbers of voters in Natrona County. Very Repub county. I spend an hour calling maybe 30. Two-thirds are message machines. Everyone who answers has already voted, although I can’t speak for the one lady who instantly hung up on me. Bet I sounded like a robocall. I make an effort to mimic a human after that.
Sarah Palin is on the TV, all votin’ and stuff in this greatest pro-American time of choosin’ in this, our great nation of ours. Judging from the report, the woman who is the nation’s leading expert on energy, and knows how to turn around America’s energy dependence, flew from the Midwest to Alaska just to cast a vote. (No absentee ballot? Who runs that state?) Then she flies to Phoenix to announce that she’s the 2012 frontrunner and, believe-you-me, she will have some stern words for the 52 percent of anti-American Americans who officially started pallin’ around with terrorists today.
Doorbell. It’s John Byrne Cooke, canvassing for Gary. If Gary’s GOTV is half as good elsewhere in Wyoming, we’re looking good.
10:32 a.m. Nov. 5
Well glory be. America chose a president for his brains.
Jon Stewart, the most intelligent newsman of this entire election cycle, announced that Barack Obama is our next president. The fireplace warms, two cats sleep and we’re thrilled, stoked, lightheaded, happy and in an elongated “pinch me” state of mind.
I am soaking this up. Earlier at the Hard Drive Cafe, I had immersed myself in the rich local tribal love that we Jackson Holers indulge in when we know we’re doing well, doing good, doing right. As Feist sings, I feel it all. But I had quickly pounded down two beers which triggered my anti-social wolf-of-the-steppes mode.
Besides, that little zing of pending victory for Gary Trauner was not in the air. I forsake the Hard Drive’s splendid din for ABCNNBCBSPAN where I could watch the races I cared about. The loonies. Happily enough, right wing nutballs are going down like right wing nutballs in airport lavatories. Marilyn Musgrave, Liddy Dole, Virgil Goode — but not our newest Southern state, Alaska. Their idea of good government is to elect felons and beauty queens, live off their socialist wealth-spreading taxing of oil companies, and call themselves “America: Now With More Real.”
Off to sleep. I’ll wake up to a new America, an America where, as Chris Rock put it, George Bush “fucked everything up so much, he’s even made it hard for a white man to become president.”
8:53 a.m. Nov. 6
It’s been 36 hours since America elected to throw the bomb to the swift, skinny kid who smiled confidently and said, “Let me go long. I’ll put it in the end zone.” Finally, that swirly-dreamy feeling is gone, I know it’s real and damn! does America look good.
Last night on C-SPAN we watched an hour of global news — Russia, Germany, France, Iran. If you think thoughtful, unselfish Americans feel relieved, you should check out the rest of the planet. Ireland put on a huge happy drunk.
However, I took exception to the New York Times’ initial web Obama-wins headline: RACIAL BARRIERS FALL or something like that. As this piece argues, Barack knows older racists are dying off and that the new generation is through with superficialities like race, gender, and computer platform. (As a Mac user, I for one generously announce that Vista does not totally suck.)
Writing at Talking Points Memo, Bernard Avishai makes my point for me: “But relief today is not about Americans choosing an obviously black man over a white man, which proves we can come to terms with our past. It is about our choosing an obviously brilliant, reciprocal man over a thick, cynical one — a man who articulates a coherent vision of global commonwealth over someone advancing vague, military patriotism — which proves we can come to terms with our future.”
I am proud that America chose intelligence over macho posing. We’ve learned from our mistake.