I am not a very political person. I mostly vote Democrat, but I'm not a psycho about it. If there's a good Republican out there, sure, I'll vote for him. I certainly have never been vocal about the political process before now. As you can see, my only other article on HuffPo is about sperm donation and the legacy system at Harvard, a decidedly apolitical topic. But there's something happening to me and to countless others this election season. Partisan fury is welling up inside me. I feel myself being polarized. I can't discuss politics without getting really angry. I can't watch Palin or McCain on TV without yelling. I am literally losing sleep over this race. In short, I am freaking the fuck out.
Lately, I spend about two hours a day cruising the political blogs. I've even started commenting, as if anyone cares to read the anonymous opinions of some random schmuck. But when I read say, the transcript of Palin's acceptance speech ("We grow good people in our small towns, with honesty, sincerity, and dignity." Could that be more generic? Didn't Aunt Bee say that exact same thing on The Andy Griffith Show?), I feel that I am obligated to make my voice heard -- just as I feel that I am obligated to write this article today. I have become a political spaz. I've already given Obama money, my first ever political contribution. I post tons of Daily Show videos on my Facebook page and I constantly email articles around to my friends. But is that enough? I feel like I'm on a cruise ship sailing through a bay full of icebergs, and half the passengers want their hunting buddy Jessup to steer the boat because he's a swell guy. What the hell is wrong with America?
The other day, I hysterically called my friend John. He's the press secretary for a Democratic congressman, and so I assume he knows all things political.
"We're going to lose this thing," I yelped, my voice squeaking like a 15 year-old boy.
"They're sliming us, and we're not doing anything about it. And where the hell is Hillary Clinton? Why isn't she hitting Sarah Palin back about this ridiculous lipstick thing? If she thinks she can sit on her hands and I'm going to vote for her in 2012, she's out of her goddamned mind!"
I panted for a moment, trying to regain my composure. "I need to do something about this! Why aren't you doing something about this? Aren't you a Democrat? What the hell is wrong with you?"
"You need to take a deep breath," he replied a little too calmly. "This is how these things work. They've gotten a few shots in, but come Monday, the press won't even be talking about it. Stay calm. The election is still a long way off."
"I swear, if Obama loses this thing, I'll leave the party."
"Leave the party? You aren't even in the party."
I thought about that for a moment. Was I in the party? I'm registered as a Democrat, so I guess that makes me 'in' the party. "Yes. I'll leave the party. And so will all the idealistic youth who have gotten involved in the political process for the first time. Do you even understand the stakes? This is the most important election of our lifetime."
"It sounds like you're reading the promos for MSNBC."
"Yeah? Well you sound like you're reading the promos for... Idiot-TV." It wasn't my best work ever, but I was so upset that I couldn't think clearly.
"Just relax. The election is still a long way away. This is just one news cycle. You can't freak out over every blip in the polls. If you were playing baseball, you wouldn't get hysterical every time the other team got a hit, would you?"
This gave me pause. I like sports analogies. "So you're saying that I should save the hysteria for the 4th quarter?"
"I'd say 9th inning, to stay within the baseball analogy. But, yes, you have the general idea."
I took a deep breath and felt marginally better. The people of America still have time to come to their senses. They've lived through the last 8 years of Bush just like I have, so they're bound to come to the sane conclusion. Right? They don't want 4 more years of that. Why would they? I mean, I have to believe that millions of Americans won't really support the 2008 equivalent of Governor Tarkin (Star Wars reference. Google it.), will they? No. They won't. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go give some more money to Obama's campaign because even after venting my frustrations here, I am still freaking the fuck out.
Alec Brownstein is a writer and director living in New York City. You can see more of his work at www.alecbrownstein.com