Well, that was fun. Fun, as in not really fun, extremely stressful and heartbreaking. Congratulations to the winners, and a pat on the back for all the losers (including me). Before anyone starts thinking it, or assuming I think it, I don’t don’t think anyone “stole” this election. I think the GOP won it. I don’t like how they won it, but it was well within the rules and no dirtier than our side played it (from what I know now, you never know). I think everyone misjudged the fear that ran as an undercurrent of the election.
What have I learned from this election? It sucks to lose. It sucks worse to lose when you’re personally invested. I hate losing. I’m not good at it. Today has been horrible, but tomorrow should be better. I told Daniel this morning, “I’m sorry. I tried.” I did. I wrote here about why everyone should vote for Kerry. I volunteered, although not enough. I could have done more. Next time, I will.
Some good things happened because of this election. People who’ve never run for office ran, and some of them won. People who had completely checked out of the process woke up and voted. More people voted in this election than any in the last three decades. More people voted against Bush than have voted against any sitting president in history. Young people got involved in the process in record numbers, along with record numbers of minority voters. We, once again, have an engaged electorate. Hopefully, this means that some of the things politicians were able to get away with while the public was asleep won’t be so easy to pull off now (on both sides, I’m against chicanery in a bipartisan way). The more people watching and speaking up, the better.
As bad as I feel today, I’m more committed than I was yesterday. Spending those three hours at the polls yesterday was energizing, an experience I’ll never forget. I was a part of the process, however small. Our district went for Kerry, one of only seven in Loudoun County. I’m surprisinged at how proud of that I am, even though I had very little to do with it. Instead of going away and hiding, I’m going to get more involved. I’m going to do more, not less. Next time, I don’t want any doubts about what more I could have done to help.
I’ve been thinking a lot about activism, local politics and being part of a community – three things I’ve never really been involved in before. I’ve never felt like a part of something, like I belonged. I’ve written about that before in relation to Church, but I feel the same way about my community as well. Before living here, I’d never really lived anywhere long enough to put down roots. It’s time. It’s time to get involved. It’s time to stand up. Being an activist is a good thing. It means you’re active; you’re a part of a larger whole working for something you all believe in. It’s the only way things change. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I want to be a part of that group.