For those of us who haven’t yet completed our ballots, there’s nothing left to do but vote. Residents of the hotly contested and closely watched swing states must be ready to breathe a sigh of relief, welcoming a return to fast forwarding through conventional television commercials promoting toothpaste, cars and tampons. I wrote these lines last evening on my blog:
T’was the night before the election, and all through Ohio
Margaritas were flowing like Cinco De Mayo.
Because Buckeye State residents were confident no matter who won,
Their days in the swing state spotlight were temporarily done.
After an extremely long and intense campaign, there is something to be said for the collective exhaust of the voting public. On a certain level, before the returns are counted and cable news channels morph into trigger-finger caffeine freaks, ready to call the election at a second’s notice, and before the long-winded pundits begin their Wednesday morning quarterbacking, it’s nice to take a moment and exhale.
We the people have worked hard during this interminable electoral season. While the Wall Street Journal reported that 41 percent fewer television viewers tuned in to see Paul Ryan accept the Republican Party’s nomination for vice-president (versus the near-record numbers of disbelievers who couldn’t stay away from the spectacle of Sarah Palin), and less folks checked out the Democratic presentation as well, it was a banner cycle for the the presidential and vice-presidential debates.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “A total of 67.2 million people watched the [first] debate between President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, according to figures released late Thursday by the Nielsen Co. – a 28% increase over the 52.4 million who tuned in to the first debate in 2008.” It is meaningful that the public remained this engaged heading into the home stretch, suggesting that years of prolonged unemployment, decreased home value, rising fuel and food prices and skyrocketing college tuition led to a certain thirst for voter information.
And despite the endless flip-flopping and shape shifting of Candidate Romney, it was entirely clear that the electorate was left with two very distinct choices: Obama the incumbent, the idealist come pragmatist who displayed fortitude, character and leadership in bringing the U.S. economy back from the brink, ended the war in Iraq, took steps to stem the rising tide of healthcare spending and clarified the rights of gays and lesbians to serve their country without retribution. On the other hand, voters were presented with Romney, the shameless panderer who positions were often impossible to quantify, but in instances of clarity, a return to Bush-era failings was the clear takeaway. Let’s call this agenda the Survival of the Mittest.
No matter who emerges victor (Obama) today is a day for celebrating ourselves and our participation in the democratic process. We survived a tough four years: reducing our household debt, looking for work or clinging desperately to the jobs we have and finally, finally under the leadership of our President, things are looking up. Despite the concerted efforts to disenfranchise voters at the polls, unaffected by the struggles of daily survival, we are the winners today. Our voices will be heard.