Sunday, November 2, 2008

what is it for, election, part 2

so. tuesday we americans will vote for who we think should be president of the united states for the next four years. our votes will be gathered by states, and each state will have a bunch of credits, and the credits for each state will go to the person overall that that state chose. which i think is odd, because what if my state doesn't vote for the person i want? but anyway.
and this time, there's no incumbent. that's odd, too. it almost never happens, right?
so NOW, A LITTLE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION HISTORY, which i got from the interwebs.

  • 1948 - harry truman was fdr's v.p. and then replacement as president; he defeats dewey.
  • 1952 - eisenhower vs adlai stevenson - no incumbent there. except that eisenhower was god of america after winning the war in europe, so that almost doesn't count.
  • 1956 - president eisenhower defeats stevenson again (is that right? that's what the history webpage said)
  • 1960 - nixon, eisenhower's v.p., runs against kennedy.
  • 1964 - president johnson, kennedy's replacement, defeats goldwater.
  • 1968 - former v.p. nixon runs (again), and defeats johnson's v.p., humphrey.
  • 1972 - president nixon defeats mcgovern.
  • 1976 - president ford, nixon's replacement, loses to jimmy carter.
  • 1980 - president carter loses to ronald reagan.
  • 1984 - president reagan defeats jimmy carter's v.p. walter mondale.
  • 1988 - reagan's v.p. bush the 1st defeats dukakis.
  • 1992 - president bush loses to bill clinton.
  • 1996 - president clinton defeats bob dole.
  • 2000 - clinton's v.p. al gore and bush the 2nd ... tie? sort of? gore is elected but bush takes office; how's that.
  • 2004 - president bush defeats john kerry.
and that leaves ... 2008.
v.p. cheney doesn't run. that means the republican nom is wide open. the man who is nominated is longtime senator john mccain.
former v.p. gore doesn't run. that means the democratic nom is sort of wide open. i mean, the former first lady runs, but that's not exactly a presidential incumbency. and illinois senator barack obama is nominated.

tuesday's election is a huge "what's it for?" moment. this is, in many ways, a fresh start, regardless of whom we elect.
and so my question is, as i think about this election, and what's coming in our next few days and months and years, is, what is it for? what's this fresh start for? what can we do with it? not, what can our new president do with it, but, what can i do? what can we do? what can jifc do?

i want to respond, no matter what happens, with love and hope and courage.
i think there are millions of people in our country who are trying to do the same thing, on both sides.
there are also people in our country who are responding with fear, and paranoia, and blame, and hatred.
i say, No. i will respond with love. i will respond with courage. i will respond with hope.
that's what it's for, for me, in this moment.

ps if i got any of the history wrong, let me know. i'll forward the comment to the interwebs.


Chiron' said...



Anonymous said...

This blog brings back a number of deja vu moments: (1)nixon v. kennedy - our family is passionately split. Uncle Ronnie, a WWII war hero, decides to go with Nixon, a huge decision is a yellow dog democrat family. He is worried, among other things, that Kennedy is catholic and the pope will run the country. Grandma sidesteps the issue and says, because FDR saved them in the depression, she would vote for an ape if he was a demoncrat. T.V. media for the first time plays a big part because Nixon broke a sweat during the debate. (2) nixon v. mcgovern - my first vote, even though I had been at risk to go to Vietnam for 3 years. It was so bad I didn't vote again until I had to cancel my wife's vote and voted for Clinton. Nobody voted for Nixon but he ultimately lost in another media blunder, Watergate. Media 2, Nixon 0. (3) carter v. reagan - in 20 years the hippies went from revolution to a political fundamentalist revival. Actually, that is just my personal bias. History may be pretty kind to reagan, I think, although I really don't remember much about it. I don't think reagan did either. (4) clinton over dole - As long as I live I will never forget Clinton's speech accepting the nomination. He resonated with the country's heartstrings when he preached to his mother, his wife and the country on "family values." I trust he had laundered his pants... (5) bush II - gave us the age of terror, which he learned the hard way. The list is striking in a way, for the diversity and the sameness of these characters. Kennedy was the most different so he got killed. I think history will say they are unmistakably American, whatever that may mean from a historical perspecitive. I tend to wonder whether it is the beginning, the middle or the end.