When I put Owlet to sleep Tuesday night, Romney was leading by a small but not insignificant amount. Less than an hour later, she was asleep and I returned to the living room to find Romney’s numbers the same while Obama had surged ahead to victory.
I will admit to being on something of a post-election high.
This is only my third presidential vote. Well do I remember the first — a failed attempt to wrest Bush Jr. from power. My friends and I looked at our country in dismay, certain it was doomed. Not unlike the way many Republicans must feel this week. This was also only my second time voting in California and I was proud to have done significantly more research than in the midterm election two years ago, when I might as well have been naked at school taking a test for which I hadn’t studied. The black-and-white model of Democrat vs. Republican only lasts for about 15-20% of the ballot; the remainder is not so clear-cut. At least a small amount of self-education is in order to be a contributing member to our democratic process here in California, a fact which both empowers and terrifies me.
Last night I had the privilege of attending my knitting group, where I am truly grateful to have a few conservative friends. Their differences of opinion keep me constantly reevaluating as well as striving to express my own in civil tones. What was gratifying was how that polarity almost ubiquitous to our political discourse vanished as soon as we addressed local elections, propositions, and measures. In fact, the majority of the time we found ourselves either split along a line perpendicular to our party affiliation or else, even better, all in some shade of agreement.
Now, I realize Women in Northern California with an Affinity for Yarn (no, that’s not our group’s name) is hardly a population representative of the country as a whole. But this one conversation gave me a tangible glimpse at a different way. What if Gary Johnson had won his 5% way into the mainstream pre-election circus? What if that, in turn, eventually brought the multi-party system embraced by many of the world’s democracies to the U.S. at long last?
As it is, I think the Republican Party is at a crossroads. Trying to find unity amongst a writhing mass of ideologies ranging from mainstream to extremist resulted in the nomination of Mitt Romney, the man with a mask for each group but no face of his own. The Democrats have had a better time finding common ground lately, but only by comparison. How much easier, more vibrant, more representative of the thousand shades of American would it be to put the aging Elephant and elderly Donkey out to pasture (or, heck, eat them in a show of support for sustainability!) and erect in their place a cultural menagerie?
Who knows, instead of putting aside our differences to stand behind our party’s candidate, we might even find ourselves putting aside our differences to stand behind our president.
Besides, anyone else like the idea of a technicolor election map?