Election 2012

For the first time in almost a decade, I pulled an all-nighter.

I don’t always stay up to watch live election coverage, but as I contemplate starting a new life back in my home country again, I guess I felt particularly invested.

I have no interest in talking about my views, nor do I have any interest in analyzing the ins and outs of the day, as I am sure hundreds of pol sci students will do in the weeks and months to come.

But in the quiet, deserted dawn, I find myself reflecting on many things.

They are in no particular order, but they do feel important.

I.  CNN’s coverage was unashamedly bias

I often hear jibes and complaints leveled at the “liberal media”. From over here it sounded like the same sour grapes mentality that always leads to mud slinging and glaring showdowns at debates. In fact, it is rather embarrassing. You are reporters and statisticians. If this is an op-ed, you should say so.

II. Independent thinking

Politics are passionate. In lots of ways they should be. But the absolute vitriol on my facebook feed right now is ghastly.

Honestly. You don’t have to like the way other people vote, but you do have to respect that they have the right to think and vote as they see fit.

Democracy means everyone, not just the people who vote, look and act like you. To dismiss those you disagree with (and demean them with ridiculous name calling and slurs) is to deny the very foundations of our country.

It hurts my heart.

III. Assumptions

I guess this is really another form of bias, but possibly even more insidious.

I cannot tell you how many times correspondents and panelists across all the news channels I watched kept taking voters for granted. Especially if they were “minority” voters. (I use the quote marks intentionally. 55% of voters in this election were women. Almost a third were non-white, and up several points from previous years.)

When you’re talking about hundreds of millions of people it seems a little silly to make broad sweeping statements. As if there is a Women’s Vote. And if this election showed anything, it’s how divided we are right now. 50% is hardly a victory in most two-man competitions.

And if one more person implies a black neighborhood is a given for Obama I’ll scream.

Give me all the statistics you want about urban, working class, or minority areas being traditionally liberal. Sure.

Posit that the percentages from 2008 indicate a strong support from African American communities, fine.

But at the end of the day, telling me it’s a given that any given African American will definitely vote for a black president is like saying I’m white, I must have voted for Romney.

IV. Voter Experience

There were power outages. And 5 hour lines. There were erroneous digital machines. And confused pollers  being told they’ve already voted.

The system is complicated and messy, but it blew my mind to learn that 2/3rds of Nevada’s residents voted early or by absentee. Two thirds of people came at the weekend, or after work, in the weeks leading up to Election Day and voted when and how was right for them. I wonder if they fared better than everyone else in the guddle.

Also, only about 50-60% (and I’m being generous) of the eligible population vote. Setting aside issues of immigration, citizenship and resident’s rights, that’s still just sad. Half the people who can vote, for whatever reason, don’t.What isn’t working and why?

Since when did our government stop being perceived as ours?

Esquire once rather nicely mulled on Obama’s rhetoric, but last night, one bit of his speech especially hit home:

Tonight you voted … But that doesn’t mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America’s never been about what can be done for us. It’s about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self-government. That’s the principle we were founded on.

Self-government. The prefix is practically forgotten these days.
In my own bout of rhetoric, I really do want to see its truth ringing from sea to shining bloody sea.
That’s the America I love.
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