Why living in a swing state sucks
I’m sitting in my living room, a space mostly dark, and lit solely by the dim, nearly sepia spotlights lording over the breakfast nook. The fact that they illuminate a five foot tall, four foot wide oil painting of what, as best I can decipher, a hook-nosed nun plodding head-down in the opposite direction of a sun with outstretched arms signifies, without a doubt, I don’t know what.
What she walks toward, however, I can pin down: what lies just beyond the frame. For her, nothingness. But better than something that burns so violently, so oppressively there.
I sympathize. I’m ready as well to move on from storms and spin, from the poison of high rhetoric combined with bafflingly lacking morals. Anything would be better than this.
What’s “this?” Swing state hell is “this.”
I lived in Georgia for a combined 21 years of my life. I voted in two presidential elections in that state, and knew full well that each time I was practically throwing my vote away, electorally speaking. I voted for Kerry in 2004, for much the same reason I would sooner eat wilting kale than rotting meat. I voted for Obama in 2008, for much the same reason I would vote for a candidate that didn’t sell his soul to a core group of slobbering maniacs with hate-boners for welfare. I voted for him again this week, motivation unaltered.
The 2008 election was especially jarring, in a cultural sense, because I encountered both opposite ends of the enemy gamut. On the GCSU campus, conservative groups barged onto the quad distributing leaflets of aborted fetuses, the protesters themselves adorned with placards emblazoning now-President Obama’s visage, a circle and diagonal line bisecting his face. An Obama presidency, we were to believe, would give you lung cancer.
Or something. I had my own hate-boner to deal with.
The narrative of the crazed social conservative, focused solely on lording over what people do with their genitals, holds some water. These are not isolated incidents, and if you don’t think these individuals are ubiquitous, you’re probably both one of them and in denial about it.
And there’s the other group as well, a more moderate GOP collective, or at least one smart enough to not constantly carpet-bomb bystanders with inflammatory rhetoric and spittle. If you’re one of these people, you voted for Romney because you either A) truly don’t know any better, or B) you hate women and poor people. But at least you’re nice about it.
Because Georgia is about 15 percent the first group, 35 percent the second group, and 50 percent disenfranchised minorities, most nationwide political campaigns don’t trouble themselves with more than a handful of visits. And any ads that do run there serve — as is increasingly becoming the case for the rest of the country — as head-swelling, navel-gazing political porn that serves to do little more than inflate a voter’s sense of entitlement. Hence, minus the placard warriors and those liberals dumb enough to try and engage them in a serious rhetorical argument, the relative calm.
Wisconsin is a different beast, and not just because I was already scraping frost off of my car in October. Though Obama was projected to, and did, win it by a comparatively comfortable margin, it was close enough throughout election season to warrant its swing-state designation. And that means that we, with slightly less the same frequency and intensity as Ohio, get positively laid waste to by political ads. For the past two months, I haven’t been able to open our mailbox without flyers and postcards espousing the virtues or denouncing the peccadilloes/crimes against humanity of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Tommy Thompson and Tammy Baldwin avalanching out. I know how I’m voting, so every one of these goes right into the conveniently placed recycling bin in the lobby of our building.
Of course it blankets all methods of communication. Pop-up ads, every other television commercial, full-size newspaper ads, billboards, etc. My fiancee’s parents don’t even pick up their home phone anymore unless they know exactly who it is — it’s likely a robo-call. The other day, we were watching episodes of something on Hulu, enduring even more political commercials. And even when we clicked “No” when asked if the ad was applicable to us, the best we could do was skip right to the next one. “The Walking Dead,” which we were watching at the time, seemed downright Disney by comparison.
This state and others — surely, due to CNN’s pie chart fetish, you know them by now — are in turn lionized and vilified by public and punditry alike for their swing-state designation, for the subsequent hogging of the national spotlight in the weeks and months leading up to the actual election. Poor Georgia. Poor Montana. Poor Dakota. It sounds like a litany of murmured sympathies directed at the runners-up of a small town beauty pageant.
By the time you read this, Barack Obama will have again been declared President of the United States, and Republicans will be saying all sorts of hilarious things I can ridicule them for. In real time, though — my now — I am tired. Sweet Georgia, sweet Montana, Dakota. You do not know how lucky you are. For in the arid desert of election season, a mirage, our shimmering desires, ends up being exactly what we want it to be: nothingness. A merciful, merciful, void.You Might Also Like:
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