The last presidential debate concluded on Monday. Both candidates accomplished what they needed to accomplish: Obama mentioned the word “women” seven times, according to the debate transcript, while Romney mentioned the word once, and it was successfully not preceded by “binders full of.” The candidates repeatedly avoided discussing foreign policy. We all came away with advanced knowledge of “horses and bayonets,” and the major news networks got to show their mastery of Twitter, rapid-fire exit polls and cornering rooms full of voters.
This was just a drill. We’ll be ready for Nov. 6.
The moderator ended the debate with a quote from his mom, “Go vote. It will make you feel big and strong.”
I agree. Go vote! I hope that you care enough to vote. Stanford students are from all over the country–send your early ballots far and wide back to where you’re registered, or walk down the street to vote in California. Students who cannot vote in a U.S. election, encourage friends to vote; you’ve had to suffer through a bitter election season just the same.
And for all of us, we should be assured that Nov. 6 is just the beginning.
If you watch the results arrive for local and national elections, a roller coaster of emotions will follow: ballot propositions and local candidates and the presidency, oh my! If we’re really lucky, CNN will bring back the hologram feature for a day, unifying us all to care about something distinctly peripheral to the actual election results.
But amidst all the yelling and giant touch-screen graphics, a president will be elected, and he will make decisions that affect the whole world. This one guy will not immediately make those decisions, nor will his opinions on them remain the same over time; after all, he has 535 other elected officials to confer with in Washington, D.C. Bipartisanship hasn’t been a big theme this election season, but it is still a noble goal to connect reasonable voices across political parties.
This opinion surely comes from having a foot in the camps of both major parties; the right one has been at home in Phoenix for 20 years, while I’ve been stepping in the left one more and more at Stanford.
My convention-watching experience is a good indicator of this situation.
Because I’m part of a family of Republicans, I watched the entire Republican National Convention this year. Partly because I’m a young, queer college student, and a woman (pander to me, dammit!), I watched the Democratic National Convention as well. Neither one disappointed. By which I mean, both conventions were gung-ho American, red, white, and blue, rock music bonanzas designed to show commitment to a thriving American spirit.
I watched both conventions with a television audience cheering their own party–Republicans cheering for leaders who promised to “make the hard decisions,” and Democrats cheering for leaders who promised to make, well, the other “hard decisions.”
My Republican family members got chills when certain points from the RNC rang true; the Democrats I sat with were nearly brought to tears by stories from Democratic leaders. I don’t pretend to be the only impartial and insightful party here–both groups also offered critiques and occasional disapproval. I just happen to be the omniscient narrator of this particular story.
But I found it incredibly interesting to see both groups of voters wooed by unabashedly partisan talk because I greatly respect both of them, and I know they’ve thought long and hard about what they think. They’re older and wiser, and know their swooning will be checked by the gridlock of the political process.
That is not to say politicians are just useless cogs. The result of the presidential election will have very serious consequences, and I am not trying to negate that. What I am saying is this: thoughtful people exist within both major parties. Those thoughtful people will necessarily function in the political structure, and fight for their constituency. Constituencies will continue to fight, either through avenues of the government or not, for the issues closest to their hearts. Others will continue to agitate the process and spur dialogue, reminding everyone that there is much more to consider than the platforms of the two major parties.
And so the political process continues, whether or not your chosen candidate is in the highest office. On the morning of Nov. 7, we will evaluate the election results, reorient our political tactics, and move ahead.
That being said, none of this is decided yet, and the old ladies at the polls are waiting for you. Go vote!