Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I never want to feel this horrible again

Every once in a while, I have a dream that's a little too vivid in a bad sense. It may involve the death of an immediate family member, being evicted from my apartment on false pretenses or some other form of irreversible trauma. These dreams have such a lifelike quality that I'm still left wondering about their authenticity even hours after awakening.

Well, I had one of those dreams early this morning. And the thrust of it was that John McCain had won the presidential election.

The dream began on the early morning of Election Day. I get up and call up friends and family in my home state of Louisiana, urging them to vote (I had actually talked to my 18-year-old sister last night, reminding her to do the same thing - she doesn't need reminding, fortunately). Even though Louisiana seems like a lost cause for Barack Obama, I don't want my home state to go gently into the neocon night. I currently live in Missouri, one of the most-watched swing states, and this may be the first time since my first presidential vote in 2000 that it will actually count.

In the dream, I spend the rest of the day soaking up news and online coverage of the day. Predictably, pundits, voters and the candidates themselves have endless amounts of analysis. My job precludes me from officially aligning with (or contributing to) any campaign, so there isn't much I can do in traditional grass-roots avenues. But still, I feel satisfied that I've gotten friends and family on both (three?) sides to take an active interest in the race.

As I go to work on what promises to be a busy night of coverage, I feel more eager and energized than I have in quite some time. Even with the heavy work load owing to the election and the significance thereof, and my admittedly cautious optimism, I feel lighter than usual.

It's then that I realize, in all of the day's hoopla, that I've completely forgotten to vote. This occurs to me at almost the exact minute the polls close. My heart sinks. How could I forget?!! Not only is this disheartening, but it's embarrassing. What would everyone think? Yes, I could technically say I voted for Obama in the state primary on Super Tuesday, but I could never say I made a difference where it counted most - in the voting booth on Nov. 4. Fortunately, no one asks me even jokingly if I voted, because that's like asking if Chris Rock is funny. It's just implied. I finally get over myself by realizing that Missouri could go blue even without my help.

But before the electoral map even swings our way, it's over. At 9 p.m. CST, all of the major networks announce that John Sidney McCain III is the next president of the United States. And that Sarah Palin is the next vice president. As it turns out, McCain turned in such a stunning and unexpected performance in Ohio, Florida and even New England that the race is set to be an electoral blowout.

"What? How? No electoral model I saw made that even remotely possible," I think to myself. Not even Karl Rove's. As it turns out, the popular vote is close - but in the counties where it counts most, the vote skewed McCain's way. I'm ready to scream voter fraud, but exit polls and voter interviews suggest that voters simply made 11th-hour decisions to vote McCain. Fraud can't explain this.

Now I began to feel bad about my own voting inaction. When Missouri officially goes red, I feel worse. Pundits on TV note that the Obama campaign's successful efforts to draw millions to register and to court the youth vote had been canceled out by Election Day complacency and a sudden groundswell of conservatives who suddenly weren't.

Regardless, there is a general feeling that no one really hails McCain's election. Obama supporters are devastated, and Republicans are merely saying meh, we dodged a bullet.

"How can this be happening?" I ask, the dread in me palpable. "We squandered a chance to make history to have a president-elect that gets no one excited?" Someone around me says that McCain was the safe choice, and that they had fallen back on him when the time came to mark the ballot.

The scene then changes to me sitting in my apartment the next morning. Weather-wise, it's a perfect day, and I open the windows of my lake-view apartment to let the sunshine in. I'm sitting on my living-room floor, folding laundry, with CNN on in the background. Just then, Sarah Palin begins her victory speech.

I don't remember exactly what she said, but the accent and the smugness were as real as if I had it blaring on my speakers right this minute. And I remember the sinking feeling. And how I couldn't even think about Obama or hope anymore. I had the same feeling that I had during the hardest time of my life, which my unconscious brain is unfortunately able to conjure with dead-on accuracy. Except I felt it for the both the U.S. and the entire world.

Then I woke up. Relief wasn't instant, but I eventually came to my senses. And now I realize how no one who cares about the future of this country should allow this nightmare to happen. I will not forget to vote on Election Day, and neither should you.

4 comments:

GumboFilé said...

it's a premonition.

David in Grand Coteau

Ian McGibboney said...

Sorry, I'm not that good.

Michael said...

As we say up here in Chicagoland, "Vote early and vote often."

Shanna Riley said...

Awesome post and all too poignant right now. I certainly hope you're "not that good"...I can't even begin to imagine how awful the day after will be if McCain/Palin win this election.

(Fyi, just found your blog & am hooked - and only a little bias that you from my home state ;P. Linkage right after I post this).