I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little too wrapped up in next Tuesday's election. I'm spending waaaay too much time on the Web sites of CNN.com and the super-detailed fivethirtyeight.com. When I get home from work, I'm watching utterly too much cable news and commentary.
I don't remember ever getting this fired up before an election. (After an election, that's a different story -- I think I barely left the house after the 2000 contest, boldly declaring that the election snafu meant the beginning of the end of the Union.)
Maybe that's why I'm watching so intently. I think America may redeem itself from the sloppy election eight years ago, in which the judicial branch, not the voting public, ended the race with one partisan pound of the gavel.
Now, I'm watching polls, learning about the voting tendencies in particular Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio counties. I'm becoming familiar with individual voting machines in individual states, as well as their rules on early voting. The only other time I cared about Western Pennsylvania when was I was driving through it looking for a good rest stop on I-80.
I mean, I have a pretty good idea how this election will turn out, but the cynic / conspiracy theorist in me is wondering if this country can expect shenanigans, or even worse, in the next week. And can we weather it once again?
For example, what if all the pundits are wrong, and John McCain pulls off a victory? Will the Democrats cry foul and send this election back to the Supreme Court? If Barack Obama wins, will the Republicans claim voter fraud and try to dispute the results with recount after recount?
I don't think I can handle another winter full of dangling chads.
Like there's anything I can do about it, anyway.
But seriously, though I hate to write this, I still fear for Obama's life (and this honesty has absolutely nothing to do with my political beliefs). I think there is a moderate likelihood that if he wins, some lunatic will make an attempt to assassinate him, which, God willing, will be thwarted. But before the election, his Secret Service detail isn't quite as stacked -- and what if one of the white supremacist groups that we haven't heard of takes a shot? Even if unsuccessful, such an attempt would throw this election into hysterics.
Thing is, we're sitting on a major powder keg here. The vitriol is higher than ever. Voters on both sides will turn out in record numbers because they realize America is actually at a cross roads, and the next president will have the opportunity to chart this country's path. If the Democrats control the House, Senate and the Oval Office, expect the left to get a blank check to pass its agenda. If the Republicans can thwart them, expect less radical change and a Supreme Court to stay about the same (which, depending on your perspective, is either great or terrible news).
I guess that's why I find myself so addicted to political coverage right now. My self-inflicted apathy after the last boring election has been replaced with double takes as McCain advisors call Sarah Palin a "rogue," "diva" and "wackjob," while Joe Biden promises America that Obama will be tested with an international crisis within six months.
This is the stuff of Tom Clancy novels, not real life. Or is it?
So I sit and watch the electoral college map turn its shades of blue, red and purple. And I wait.
I'm not getting much done these next six days, are you?
Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.
Before launching OnMilwaukee.com in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.
Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.