Last night, when the ones who decide such things announced that Barack Obama would become the next president, I hear that the country — and parts of the world — erupted in cheers, tears, and hugs of joy. In my living room, I just sat there, staring blankly at the TV. It didn’t seem real, and I felt profoundly disconnected from the excitement pictured there. I tried to summon some emotion — our guy won! Nothing.
I wandered upstairs, where Mikey was watching the election aftermath in the office. He looked at me and asked, “what’s wrong?” but I didn’t know. The only word that came to mind was bereft. I went to bed, and sometime around midnight, while I was staring morosely into the darkness, I finally found words for this strange depression.
While the election was still going on, there was a chance for John McCain to come back from crazytown. There was a chance for him to once more be that guy I wanted to vote for in 2000, who actually merited the now-infamous label “maverick,” and who publicly stood up to the administration about headliner issues. I was so excited when I first heard that McCain would be running again — I liked him, and I had so much respect for him. And then when he hit that turning point in his campaign, deciding to “win at any cost,” it felt very much like a betrayal. How could I vote for a guy who puts “women’s health” in derisive air quotes and who purposefully misrepresents a program that would teach children to protect themselves against sexual predators? What happened to the guy I knew before? I can’t help thinking that John McCain 2000 would kick this guy’s ass just on principle.
So when I voted for Obama, I did so largely because I couldn’t in good conscience allow the country to go to the man his opponent had become. It wasn’t as bad as my “Anyone but Bush” Kerry vote in 2004, but there was an element of the same idea in my decision. I was glad other people agreed with me, but for some reason I just couldn’t muster the wild elation that gripped everyone else when we actually realized our goal.
I said as much to Mikey this morning, and he laughed a little. “Are you breaking up with John McCain?”
And when he put it like that, I guess I am.
I can’t keep hanging onto what has essentially become a bad relationship, hoping one day he’ll recognize the error of his ways and come back to me (or at least apologize for being such a petty dick). It’s a bittersweet day as I let go of any hope for my old candidate and move on to embrace the bright new world of the Obama Nation.
No jubilant ululation for me yet. It seems inappropriate somehow, as if I’m dancing on a man’s grave. RIP, McCain That Was?