Have you ever wondered what would happen if the presidential nominee of your choice won this election? Of course you have – and I have too. I have been thinking about it a lot recently. Well, maybe “fantasizing” is a better word to describe what I’m doing. Every time I hear about gas prices creeping up or more foreclosures or famine or floods or earthquakes, I like to sit back and think about something very hopeful – Obama being elected as our next president.
(Cue dream-like chimes and fuzz the picture in your minds…)
I imagine election night, with my husband, at home, eyes glued to MSNBC, hastily gulping down my glass of wine – hopeful, hopeful, hopeful as the returns come back and show red states turning blue. And then I go further and imagine a landslide victory and sending my husband out for champagne (I could never buy some early, I’d jinx the whole campaign!) while I gleefully jump on the couch and scream and kiss my sleeping kids and call my friends and family. Because that win would be so huge, so tear-worthy, so much bigger than even the Red Sox winning the World Series (the first time). I know I would feel so much relief and optimism. I picture the celebrating in Washington – shoot, I’d want to have a party myself (c’mon repub friends, join the fun!), I’d want to dance in the streets, I’d jubilantly bust out “The Cabbage Patch” AND “The Running Man” in a fog of champagne and joy in front of anyone who’d want to see. And you can hold me to that too.
I can also imagine McCain winning. I have to, there’s nothing to say that possibility couldn’t happen. NOTHING surprises me after our last election. I can picture my husband and I sitting on the couch, quiet. I would probably be gulping that wine then too – and, yeah, that moment would be tear-worthy also. While impossible to imagine, it would actually feel so much worse than the end of the Superbowl when the Patriots managed to “poop the bed” and experience the biggest upset in NFL history. But as I did then, I would turn the TV off right before the end to avoid the celebratory speeches from the McCain camp; I’m not sure I could even bring myself to watch Obama’s concession speech either. That night, I’d probably have nightmares and fall into a stressful “when is it ever gonna end” slump for a bit. It would suck. Royally.
When the fantizing is over, I do actually think very hard and very realistically about what our next president is up against. Right now, along with many other fellow citizens (c’mon admit it), it is very easy to blame all horrible things on Bush. Granted, his antics, horrid judgement calls and general stupidity make him target rich material. So, the logic follows in my mind that everything is his fault. The value of my house went down $50,000 – it’s all because of Bush. My favorite bread rolls went up a whole dollar, Bush strikes again. I stubbed my toe on my bedframe, that asshole Bush, that never would’ve happened if he wasn’t president.
And as much as I blame Bush for all things evil, I often ask myself if everything is then fixable just because we elect Obama? I worry a great deal about all the eggs we have in his basket. While I know he is the best choice for president, let’s not forget that the actual act of electing him will NOT solve the gas, the floods, or the real estate issues come January 20, 2009. Yes, yes, having him president will bring us a great deal of hope for change. But, those are just dreamy, inspiring words. We need to prepare ourselves for all of the work ahead and keep ourselves in check here. We are so so many miles up shit’s creek, and Obama is a paddle that will have to bust it’s ass, like no paddle ever has, to steer us clear of the mess we are in. Let’s stop, think and truly consider what an enormous burden he will be taking on.
For many years, the world according to the Bush Administration has been an oversimplified, black and white, “you are either with us or against us” cowboy story. There is no complexity, there is no grey area. Uh huh. Well, just because you say there is no grey area, Dubya, does not make it so. It has been sitting there toiling and unheeded for far too long. Obama is staring this breathing, living, disenfranchised “grey area” right in the face, and probably muttering – however eloquently – some version of “What. A. Clusterf*ck.”
(Can I digress here quickly? This mess? This grey area? I find myself picturing a Star Trek episode called “The Devil in the Dark”. You know the one where the moving rock is eating everything up, people included, and Spock mind melds with it to find out that people have been killing the rock’s eggs? Yeah, that’s what this mess – this angry mass of grey area – really is. …And please tell me you know what I am talking about and I am not just coming across as some Trekkie geek, ok?)
So what exactly does this complex grey area comprise of? Well, here’s only a small slice of it; you should all recognize it well enough.
- Obama has to get our troops home before any more are killed – but he must resolve the mess we’ve made while bringing stability to Iraq. And he can’t forget about Afghanistan – you know, where Al Queda originated from, poppies grow throughout and Taliban are thriving currently? Yup, the same place where, ironically, there are hardly any troops, support or resources available? Um, it’s kind of an important country too.
- He has to focus on the environment, global warming and alternative fuel resources – but also smooth talk those oil companies into bringing gas prices down to something reasonable so we can actually afford to get our butts to work in the meantime.
- He has to sort out the gridlocked rat’s nest that is our economy. Oy vey.
- He has fix healthcare – and that’s like saying he has to fix that huge crack down the middle of the grand canyon.
- He has to carefully and sensitively repair the remains of international diplomatic ties around the globe while assuring them of economic security and domestic investment promise. The dollar needs to be worth the paper its printed on again, and he has to convince the angry mobs outside our borders that it is.
- Oh yeah, and borders, what are we going to do about those? We need migrant workers, they are part of what makes our economy work, right? According to farmers in California they are. But wait, do they get the same rights as American citizens if they’ve entered our country illegally?
Oh, its a grey grey world and Obama has to find some sense of color and reason again within it.
I was in Washington D.C. when President Clinton was elected for the first time. That city was practically fanning itself from the exhilaration of hope, optimism and saxophone playing it had riled itself into. It sort of scared me. Would he live up to these expectations? Could he get all that work done from up top of such a high pedestal?
I worry Obama’s inauguration would mirror Clinton’s – but 100 times over, feverish with expectations and jubilation, frenzy and froth. Election night will not, in of itself, get this figured out. Let’s welcome him into office and then think carefully about what we, as a whole nation, can do to work these complex issues out. He is only a man – with extraordinary potential, YES – but he is only a man, becoming president for the first time, bringing a green yet talented team together. It’s going to take a little time and heaps of work on all of our parts to make the change we hope to see. Grey area, folks, don’t forget.
And if McCain wins, we all better take some deep breaths. Yup, this election is as partisan as it gets. But democrats everywhere can not take their ball and go home to pout if we don’t win. We will need to buck up and work harder than ever before. We have a supreme court on the brink. We have an environment that can not go ignored any longer. We have oil companies ruling our lives. We have a religious right butting their noses into government. We have citizens not being treated equally. We have rich folks staying rich but poor people getting very poor. We have to do everything we can to come together and fix this. It may even take some version of bi-partisanship to do anything and everything to push, ease, cajole, and even beg McCain in the right direction. But, if he is elected, we won’t have much of a choice, will we?
Granted, this sort’ve reality check is honestly no fun during a time that is “cheek to jowl” (as my mother would say) with sobering reality checks. I would much rather just let my mind wander back to that uncoordinated display of joy in my living room on November 4, 2008. Couch jumping, “The Cabbage Patch”, and I think my husband even knows how to do “The Worm”.
So, positive thinking folks. Drag your friends and neighbors out to vote and shine up your boogie shoes, we can win this thing. Those dances of jubilation ARE a reality. And, with work from all of us, so is cleaning up this mess. It has to be.