I was in eighth grade when George W. Bush and Al Gore ran against each other in the race for the US Presidency. Bush became President and I was quite disappointed. That was around the time that I first began watching The Daily Show With Jon Stewart. That was also when I was first becoming strict about rules of language and grammar. I was a freshman in high school when 9/11 happened (taking a Biology quiz when all of the televisions flicked from the silent PowerPoint slideshow of reminders that followed the televised morning announcements to a scene of the World Trade Center with smoke billowing out of one of the towers—we all thought that it was a movie at first). Shock for those first few days swiftly became greater alarm as I saw the Bush Administration take advantage of the national and international goodwill and turn it in what I saw to be disturbing directions.
My high school was not a “political battleground.” In a survey my senior year, when incumbent President Bush ran against John Kerry, I was not yet old enough to vote—few of us were—but a survey of students (conducted by one of the notably conservative members of the faculty) found that 71% of the student body supported John Kerry, and 26% supported George W. Bush. And I live, by the way, in the Southeastern United States. In the Bible Belt. And while I was not, personally, a Kerry-supporter, I was a huge supporter of not-Bush (which seemed to be the general sentiment in the Democratic Party). Thanks to the overwhelmingly similar view of my peers, I was very optimistic about the 2004 Presidential Election.
I was, of course, disappointed. This time, Bush actually won the popular vote, and was reelected.
In 2008, I was so #TeamHillary (and I still am, really). I saw President Bill Clinton speak at my university (and though universities are supposedly “liberal-factories,” my college peers were much more evenly split politically than had been my high school experience). I was disappointed when she lost the primary to Barack Obama, who was, at the time, a relatively unaccomplished politician who seemed to be supporting himself through charisma alone.
As someone who too often relies upon charm to get what he wants, I am very suspicious of other …
… people who seem to be able to dazzle people. And though I had seen Senator John McCain too often side with his party even when it seemed to be against his views, I genuinely like John McCain as a person. I was excited that he won the Republican primary (especially after the dastardly tactics that Bush’s campaign had employed against him in 2000), and he was an accomplished statesman. (Also, did you guys see his cameo in the season premiere of Parks and Recreation? It was adorable. And I am the biggest fan of his daughter, Meghan McCain)
While I would likely have voted for Obama anyway (John McCain does not support a woman’s unconditional right to choose, which is such a deal-breaker for me), it was his choice of Sarah Palin to be his running mate that terrified me into voting for Obama. Which I did. At the time, however, I was even less enthusiastic than I had been about John Kerry. My vote for Obama was much more of a vote against Sarah Palin being anywhere near the White House, ever.
And we won. I was on campus that night. There was a lot of . . . happy noise. A good friend of mine was in New York City. There was a lot of people hanging from street signs and, quite frankly, some other signs of very uncivilized revelry.* I was happy, but I was not doing backflips. I figured that, maybe after four or eight years of boring, the country would be “mature enough to elect Hillary.” (I thought of it just like that, in fact)
I was neither impressed nor disappointed with Obama’s handling of the debt crisis that had already begun. It was . . . about what I expected of any competent President.
But then I started to get really impressed. Obama’s healthcare reforms include a mandate that birth-control have no co-pay, which I know is tremendously important to millions of women who want more effective, safer, but more expensive birth-control (like hormonal implants and IUDs, which are now being recommended to teens in the place of the pill). Obama killed Bin Laden, which was pretty awesome. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is no more. And the President came out in support of true marriage equality, which is so important symbolically for, well, millions of dignified Americans who deserve the same rights as their heterosexual peers. And, though we all wish that they were a bit more accurate, I am a fan of the use of predator drones. They have much lower death tolls than using troops to perform the same operations.**
So, I am legitimately, enthusiastically #TeamObama this year and this election season. And no one is more surprised about it than I am. Does Paul Ryan frighten me? Yes. Do I want for Mitt Romney to be President? No. After eight years under Bush, I have to say that I think that a Romney Administration would be much easier to deal with, but I do not want him as my President and I do not want for him to be our representative to the world.
*I’m all about letting loose and getting wild and celebrating, within certain time-and-place restrictions.
**Also, they are much more like how I prefer to play Starcraft, which always wins bonus points.