First-Year Column: Losing that Ol’ Voting Virginity

I hugged as many people as I could find on our hall. I called my dad at 11:30 p.m. West Coast time—otherwise known as 2:30 a.m. East Coast time—despite the suspicion that I might be waking him up. I liked every single Facebook status update about the election, even those of Facebook friends I’m pretty positive I’ve never met in my life. My left hand is aching from all the high fives I’ve given and received. Even now, as I write this, I have a smile the size of Texas on my face. It was all worth it. Welcome, my dear friends, to another four years of good old America.

No, the last four years were not superb. And no, things are not perfect. Far from it, actually, looking at how closely our nation split along serious ideological divides this election. Brought up by liberal parents who tend to critique politics rather than compliment them, I was never raised to be particularly patriotic. But this year, just like four years ago, I honestly do believe that things are going to get better.

Maybe it’s that our incumbent—and newly elected!—president gives tear-jerking speeches. Seriously, he has got those pregnant pauses down. Maybe I’m just going insane from all the pollution in these parts. Or maybe a little bit of stubborn, naïve hope has stuck with me all along that one day we will achieve a more perfect union. Either way, I have no shame in admitting: I’m happy with who won today.

I’ve definitely felt The Claremont Bubble closing in, like one of those hamster balls that look like they’d be really fun to run around in, but would probably be pretty scary. Sad to say, I spent most of the last week in October planning my Halloween costume, trying to figure out how to scam my way into Trick-or-Drink and dealing with reading that small book called War and Peace for my first-year seminar.

As a result, Hurricane Sandy almost passed me over. And even when I did learn about the natural disaster, flooded subway systems and gas shortages in New York couldn’t have felt more removed from our sunglasses-in-hand, flip-flops-on-feet Southern California lifestyle.

I count myself lucky that a presidential election happened my first year of college, because not only did it help pop the bubble we’re beginning to get comfortable rolling around in, but it also coincided perfectly with the first time many of us first-years were able to vote. There’s something wonderfully life-affirming about being able to paste on that “I Voted” sticker. (In actuality, I’m living vicariously through all my Californian friends as, unfortunately, absentee voters aren’t given any stickers. So if you have any extra ones lying around, find me.)

Not that this election was easy. Not only did I have to give myself a crash course in all the politics I’ve been hiding from, but Florida and Ohio had me popping jelly beans like never before. In addition, different websites reported vastly different Electoral College results, so I could never be exactly sure which states had been definitively won or whose results were just projected. The jellybeans ran out quickly.

Despite the sporadic moments of panic, I would say that the worst part of the night for me was watching Romney’s silent supporters despondently watch the election results come up.

I don’t agree with Romney or his party on many issues. In fact, I was actually a bit irritated that Mitt would dare to set up his headquarters in Boston, the town he’d so disparaged as Governor of Massachusetts and whose ideals he’d betrayed while running for president (did I ever mention I’m from Boston?). But I have to admit that I definitely felt a moment of sympathy for anyone who has to watch a presidency slip between his fingers. Having your own country reject you as its leader would go under anyone’s “worst nights of my life” list.

My favorite part of the night, though, would have to be CNN’s “Breaking Projections,” when, one after another, swing states fell to the Democrats. Thank goodness for the invention of trumpets to announce things. From 7:45 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., when the news station announced that Obama would continue to be our president, it felt like the breaking projections were coming in every other minute. Never have I been so glad to hear a trumpet.

Now I need to run. I’ve got an election outfit to prepare for tomorrow. Good lord, I’m becoming patriotic, which I guess means I have to end this by saying, “God Bless Amurica!”

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