At 4:45 AM on Saturday, October 30, I rolled up to Citi Field in Queens, NY in the back of a black cab. Yawning and shivering with two friends, we joined a slowly growing mass of people anxiously waiting to board the free Huffington Post buses headed to Washington DC for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, the collaborative rally effort of John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
After a moderately painful bus ride down to our nation’s capital (sleeping upright is rough, especially when said seat is right next to the bus bathroom), we emerged excited, albeit sleep deprived, but ready to join the throttle of like-minded individuals in town just for the rally. Though we could barely hear what anyone was saying from the stage, just being in and amongst all of the sign-wielding people was enough to make the entire trip worth it. The energy, electric; the crowd, engaged. I took a minute to have a thought completely inside my head while standing among my peers – ‘this doesn’t happen every day, or even every election. This is special, and people really do still care.’
The signs were an amazing presence, everything from serious, heartfelt messages to.. well.. ‘Don’t Be a Dick.’ I took way too many pictures to post, but again, the fact that there were so many captions scraggled on poster board that incited the urge to click off photo after photo felt oddly unifying. I got these people.
I left Washington DC that day (oh yes, I spent more hours on a bus that day than I did on the ground in DC) with a feeling of something like hope. My friends and I, along with approximately 200,000 others like us, made the effort to get to DC, to mingle and meet, and to try to drum up some spirit with election day looming.
And then November 2 came.
I sit here on November 4 unabashedly ashamed and disgusted. Maybe my peers and I voted for the most moderate folks we could find on the ballot, but the rest of America seemed to get their political information from those always charming campaign ads. Without really understanding the issues or what candidates stood for (do not get me started about tax cuts), people kicked incumbents out, left and right (half-pun), just because it might provide the sense that things could be different.
I live in NYC now, but I voted absentee ballot for Pennsylvania, my home state in which I am still registered. I figured PA needed my help, especially with Pat Toomey on the ballot. Pennsylvania did need my help, but my help wasn’t enough, because Pat Toomey, a man who is Pro-life, pro forest thinning, in support of opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, advocates reducing gun regulations, and voted to amend the US Constitution to ban same-sex marriage (I’m not sure everyone understand that that means CHANGING THE CONSTITUTION), is going to represent Pennsylvania in the US Senate.
What a depressing election on the heels of one of the most exciting politically-charged events I’ve ever been a part of. Bittersweet seems appropriate, but the sweet part isn’t all that strong.