Tuesday, November 6 2012
Today was the day of the 2012 presidential election, the one where Barack Hussein Obama would be demographically tested against Willard Mittens Romney. These days the gild on the Obama lily shines less brightly. But when the alternative is a pathologically lying shape-shifting animatronic opportunist, that gild starts twinkling once more. I've been in the bag for Obama all along, certainly more so than Gretchen .(I forget why exactly, but she removed the last of the Obama-Biden stickers from our cars over a year ago.) After all, I'm the pragmatist in the family. Still, we rooted together for Obama in the debates and have been hoping today would turn out for the best. After the first debate, I (like many liberals) had to avoid the news for a day just because Obama's failure was just too obvious and depressing. But bit by bit Obama had managed to pick himself up, dust himself off, and show the world, "Chill the fuck out, I got this." National polls had tightened up substantially after Obama's first debate, though he always maintained a lead in the key swing state of Ohio. It was for this reason that Nate Silver (who has proved himself as something of a statistical wunderkind) never pegged Obama's prospects of winning reelection at less than 60%. By this morning, those odds (which I had been obsessively checking) had risen (along with Obama's performance in the polls) to above 90%, so I was feeling pretty good about how this day would end. There were still plenty of right wing pundits predicting a Romney landslide, but their criticism of Nate Silver wasn't about his numbers or his methodology; it was that he seemed like he might be gay. The other day I'd actually done a Google search for "conservative alternatives to Nate Silver" and had come up with a guy who likes to "unskew" polls but reballancing them to reflect a Republican turnout that seems more agreeable to his world view. (He's also the guy who referred to a Nate Silver as "thin" and "effeminate.")
Gretchen and I drove down to Old Hurley and voted on the optical scanners that replaced the clunky old system about two years ago. We knew how to vote on all issues except for a county-wide ballot initiative which read as follows, "Shall the amendments to the Ulster County Charter approved as Proposed
Local Law No. 11 of Ulster County for 2012 be adopted and become part of the Ulster County Charter?" What the fuck was that supposed to mean. There was a document in the polling place that supposedly explained the matter further, but it was as impenetrable as the wording on the ballot. Given that the Ulster County legislature has been Republican of late, Gretchen and I voted no. Any ideas they had for our county were probably bad ones.
After voting, Gretchen and I went out to the Ulster County SPCA so we could meet a couple of the dogs Gretchen arranged to have transferred there from horrible conditions in no-kill shelters in or near New York City. (Due to Malthusian pressure, no-kill shelters tend to be much less pleasant places for rescued animals than shelters that euthanized unadoptable animals.) We'd brought both Eleanor and Ramona, partly because we wanted to see how well Eleanor would get along with one of these transferred dogs on the chance that we wanted to foster her. That dog was Dutchess, a low-slung female Pit Bull who had obviously been used as a breeding bitch for some large fraction of her eight years on the planet. Now she has her own room and small yard to run around in. Like many Pit Bulls, she has lost a lot of weight since coming to the more active environment of the Ulster County SPCA. She seemed friendly but easily distracted, and, when bored, prone to destroy plushy toys. Also, with her pronounced rib cage, bike-seat-shaped head, and enormous teats, she was funny looking. I can't say that I was anywhere near as enamored with her as Gretchen is, but I'd be willing to attempt fostering. We (along with two of the staffers) took her to an outdoor pen to see if she would comport well with Eleanor and it all went very well. Gretchen also introduced me to Tasha, the first dog she managed to get relocated from downstate. Tasha is known to be bad with cats and is also a big of a wingnut, so finding a home for her is going to be more difficult. You can read about both of them here.
The plan for this evening was to go to Paul's church in the Rondout to watch the election returns. But at some point in the afternoon the venue was changed to our house. Paul evidently thought his venue was too big for such a small gathering. So Gretchen, who was still somewhat ill with whatever bug she has, would have to put together a spread for our guests. And I would have to clean the place up (a job that was already mostly complete; I'd gone on a minor cleaning jihad yesterday before Rob's arrival). The advantage, of course, was that now we wouldn't have to drive anywhere.
Gretchen thought that best foods to prepare would be the kind people might eat while watching the Super Bowl. So she made a bunch of beautiful golden brown vegan corndogs. They were on sticks like you remember them back in school, but they were plump and football-shaped (as opposed to the more conventional corndog shape).
At around 8:30pm, Sarah the Vegan and Nancy were the first to arrive, and they brought two kinds of fries purchased from the Hurley Mountain Inn (whose management was surely rooting for the outcome that Nate Silver was not predicting). I came down out of the laboratory with the better of my two laptops, and the HuffingtonPost was already reporting results. Obama had Vermont (3 electoral votes) to Romney's Kentucky (8 electoral votes). I posted to Facebook a message to the effect that, "Oh shit we're fucked!" The results continued trickling in as the others arrived at our small party. Michæl and Carrie came with some sort of food dish, followed by Paul and Ingrid with that Kentucky moonshine and bottles of Stewart's seltzer. Paul must have gotten a pallet of that moonshine in exchange for surplus roofing slate or something.
We were standing around the kitchen table eating and bullshitting for awhile, but eventually the electoral news was getting too hot, so we went upstairs to watch. Things were looking good for our people. Races for senate were being unexpectedly called for good people (or, at least, the lesser of evils). The tea-party-backed candidates who had revealed their antediluvian views on women's health and rape were being defeated without mercy. And the only states that Romney was winning were ones that I fully expected him to win. I have to say at this point that I felt like the person at the party with the most knowledge about the election. Paul didn't say much, so it's hard to know what he knew, but at some point I found myself explaining to Michæl why it wasn't bad news that Kansas had just fallen to Romney.
In terms of the presidential election, the first really good and not-to-be-taken-for-granted news came when Pennsylvania fell to Obama. At that point I went into the laboratory and turned on the colored lights, which are highly visible from Dug Hill Road. People needed to know that Obama's ongoing victory was being celebrated. We also started to include Fox News in our news-surfing protocol (despite Gretchen's objections, though she was the one actually doing that surfing). Perhaps we were watching Fox News when Ohio finally fell to Obama, at which point he passed the 270 electoral votes necessary for re-election. I was pretty drunk by this point, and though I remember the scene where Megyn Kelly, on Karl Rove's insistence, walked back to confront the Fox News number crunchers, I don't think I grasped the extent to which history was being made. Fox News had deluded its entire audience into believing Romney would win in a landslide, and they were having trouble syncing them up with the very different reality that was emerging. We, of course, exploded in celebration. And the good news was far from over. An out lesbian was still to win a Senate seat in Wisconsin. Marijuana legalization bills were still to pass in Washington and Colorado, and gay marriage was still to be legalized in Maryland and Maine (and to not be thwarted in Minnesota). America was turning out to be a much more liberal place than it had ever shown itself to be during all the earlier decades of my life (beginning, for me, with Carter's defeat at the hands of St. Ronald Reagan, the man who never raised taxes, compromised with the Ruskies, or told a lie).
So yes, never in my life had an American election gone so well for the forces of non-evil. Had some fundamental inflection point been reached? Who can say, but it was lovely to be with good friends when the best political event of my life happened.
By the way, as for Nate Silver's predictions, they were all confirmed by actual reality. As for the guy who'd been dubious of Nate Silver's predictions partly because of Silver's possible gayness, he was more wrong than he would have been had he simply guessed.
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