Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Day After Election Day

I'm a Kansas Democrat. Which means I'm used to my favorite candidates losing. During the primaries in the spring of 2008, as I entered the room inside my polling place, I saw a bunch of people standing on one side of the room with someone who was holding poster board with the word "Clinton" written in permanent marker. Another, larger group stood on the opposite side of the room with someone who was holding poster board with the word "Obama" written in permanent marker.

I had told myself I was going to caucus with the Kucinich crowd. But when I entered the room and saw that there was no Kucinich crowd, just one lonely guy leaning up against the wall in the farthest corner, the pragmatic democrat in me decided to go with plan B.

Even his poster board with the word "Kucinich" written in permanent marker was considerably smaller than the other supporters'. Weird. I'd never seen poster board that small. You know those eco-crazy Kucinich supporters, though. The dude probably cut his poster board into fourths so he could save some for the next anti-war rally.

I really hate war. I don't understand how the global economy works, so I don't generally vote on that issue. Abortion sucks, but I believe it's sometimes horribly necessary and the government has no right to interfere with a woman and her doctor's decision making. That's an important issue. I'm worried about global warming, hunger, sickness, poverty, abuse. All that stuff. Those are important issues. I'm a big supporter of using tax dollars to fund public schools, public libraries, public museums, roads, bridges, mass transit, health care, police, firefighters, all the things that make a civilization what it is. But the one political issue that is the most important to me is Defense.

I hate war. I'm a militant peace monger. I don't think war solves anything. It just exacerbates problems and keeps war profiteers in business. Peace heroes such as Jesus, and Gandhi, and King have proven that peace works. We had to fight a bloody revolutionary war with the Brits to get them out of our country. Gandhi sat down and said, "Enough."

So when I went with Plan B on primary night in 2008, it was entirely due to that candidate's position on the War in Iraq. I walked across the room and caucused with the other Obama supporters. I admire many things about Hillary Clinton, but she's far too hawkish for my taste. Obama had been speaking out against the war from the beginning. Clinton voted in favor of it.

We all know what happened from there. Obama won the nomination, ran against John McCain, and won the presidency in November 2008. It was the first time I had voted for the same person in both the primary and the general election and he won. Even when I eventually voted for Bill Clinton in the presidential election, I had not voted for him in the primary. I supported Jerry Brown instead.

My mom supported Jerry Brown too, but only because he had once been in a relationship with Linda Ronstadt. We all have our unique reasons for voting the way we do.

If Hillary Clinton wins the Democratic nomination in 2016, I'll most likely vote for her if the Republicans keep up their nonsense, or if the Green Party or the Libertarian Party or the Democratic Socialists Party get anyone's attention and they're able to nominate a viable candidate, I'd vote for him or her if they were anti-war. I'd prefer to vote for someone like Senator Bernie Sanders, or Senator Elizabeth Warren instead of Hillary Clinton for president, but if my choice is between War Hawk Clinton and War Hawk [Insert Republican Candidate], I'd pick Clinton because I agree with her more on social issues.

Voting is hard work. It's a lot of "if this, then..."

It takes a lot of time to even figure out who you're allowed to vote for, let alone who you want to vote for. And anyway, where are you supposed to vote? And where is your birth certificate if you're unfortunate enough to live in Kansas while Kris Kobach is Secretary of State. All those practical details are an inconvenience. It's a challenge to stay informed. But we must. Picking the right candidate is hard work. Important things are.

Which is why it sucks to be a Kansas Democrat. The candidate I think is right is rarely the candidate my fellow citizens think is right. I'm chronically outvoted.

I used to get so excited for elections. I was a poll worker during several elections, where they trap you inside your polling place and don't allow you to leave, even to go get lunch, so you can keep the ballots secure. That was fun.

And then, the day after the election, my candidate retreats into obscurity, I'd mope around for days, weeks. Dude, when it wasn't decided until December that W. beat Gore back in 2000, I was a mess. And then when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of W. I spiraled downward even faster. I still feel like I need to lie down when I think about W.'s presidency.

This election season I feel more ho hum about the whole thing. It's like I've achieved peace with always losing to war mongers and so I've had to figure out another way to make peace. I no longer place most of my faith in politicians (and their voters). I don't think they're capable of helping me figure out how I can help end war and hunger and poverty and support education and health care and communities.

I think what's influenced my more subdued mood this election season is that I joined a strong social justice movement church. I'm meeting so many wonderful people who every day make their world a little bit better. They take Jesus' commandment for us to love people and pray for those who persecute us seriously.

I've searched for peace through politics, but I'm through with that now. I've found another way, and I'm going to try it for a while. Not that I won't vote this November, but I'm not going to let the inevitable disappointment bring me down. The day after Election Day, no matter which candidate wins and which candidate loses, I'm still going to get out of bed and work for peace.