On the eve of November 7, 2000, I went to bed thinking that everything would be nice and over in the morning. The election might have been a mess, but at least now it would be finished, one way or another, and I could go back to checking in on the political scene when information was in the proximity. To say the least, I was mistaken.
In the beginning, there were the primaries. Yes, there were months in which candidates announced their intentions to run, people dropped out, joined in, and much more but I didn’t pay all that much attention. Heck, I didn’t even vote in the primaries when it came around to my state. Why? For some reason, to me, it seemed clear who the two presidential candidates were going to be: Bush and Gore. It turned out I was right. There were the conventions, which I barely watched. I saw Gore kiss his wife, and give a fairly stiff speech. There were debates, and while I did find myself watching, I was not watching until the end for the most part. Moreover, it seemed to me at the time that Gore knew what he was talking about, and Bush did not. I wanted to vote for Gore because of his views on Health Care.
The Net Persuades Me to Go Nader
I read about a movement on the web that would, if it would work, win Gore the swing states he needed and win Nader the 5% of the votes he needed. I registered at one of these sites, and thus my vote was set for Nader. This was the beginning of some sort of breakage from typical political involvement, for me. I was breaking away from the norm, which seemed to be voting down the party line. Why do that, when I could support two candidates at once, in a way?
Election Day Madness
The day of the election, I was worried that I would not be able to find the right place to vote. This was a groundless concern, as the daily newspaper of the school gave us all of the information we needed. Upon arriving at the correct location, I was told I was not listed. I saw my name, spelled incorrectly, listed on the page. I informed them of this and was thus allowed to vote.
I spent the night of the election at one of my part time jobs, the information desk at one of the university libraries. This, one could say, is where all of the excitement started. As the results started pouring in from all over the country, I had one web browser window open to the main page of CNN.com, and another one open to the page where they had all of the exit polls in greater detail. I was honestly quite dismayed for awhile at how things were going: One state after another was going to Bush, and Gore had just Vermont, with three electoral votes.
Every time one candidate or the other would win a state, I would go over into the reference room and tell the reference librarian, herself a political addict, about the latest news. Mind you, she was looking at the very same web site, but I think sometimes it is important to get some human contact. People coming to ask me questions about books would be immediately shown the map. There were very few, if any, Bush supporters open enough while asking me questions and looking at the map to express their glee. A plethora of Nader voters shared their disdain for how the whole political process worked, and I sympathized. It was only after Gore won New Jersey that I dared mention that I was involved in one of the Internet Vote Exchanges.
Before I left, I was quite content. Hillary Clinton had won the election for a seat in the Senate, which to me was exciting because she seemed like she was a significantly better candidate than Rick "Blahzio," if you will. A great victory for women, I thought to myself while waiting for the bus which would take me to my car which was sitting quietly on a separate campus. To my knowledge at the time, Gore had won Florida, and thus had a terrific chance of winning the election. On the radio while driving home, however, between some wonderful classical pieces (I listen chiefly to WQXR — the classical station of The New York Times — while driving) the announcer gave word that Gore had in fact not won Florida. This news left me slightly agog, but not all too terrified. As I lay in bed, my sole comforting thought was that it would all be over by the time I woke up.
Upon waking up, I went to my computer and got CNN.com loaded up. It wasn’t over! The next day, it still wasn’t over! I had told a close friend of mine that I had a headache that would end approximately when Florida would make up its mind, as it were. Two weeks later, the headache is fortunately over, but the Florida affair is not. (Can you imagine a two week long headache? That would indeed be an election to remember!)
This entire time has not been all bad, though. I have been reading every single article about this mess that I have been able to find, particularly those available through CNN’s site and The New York Times. I have, in fact, become a political junkie. I found it funny that only a couple of months ago I was reading Hunter S. Thompson’s “Better Than Sex”, in which he describes his journalistic involvement in the Clinton’s 1992 bid for office, and now I could at last see the thoughts and feelings one can find oneself having during such political turmoil. Suddenly, Thompson’s analogy of football to politics made a lot more sense. The difference being, of course, most political junkies don’t find themselves drinking watered down domestic beer which sells for the sole reason that it spends more money on advertisements than most third world countries spend all together in any given year. Side note: Drink Boddington’s. Thank you.
I have faith that this election will end sometime in the near future. Heck, the electoral college has to vote, and if Florida is still undecided, they’ll just have to go by majority. It will end. Moreover, I will be a more politically aware person because of this election. Clearly, every vote matters. The next election will hopefully see some major changes, and not just in the technology used to vote. Maybe we as a people can change a little, too.