Just Hold Your Nose and Vote

This has been an unpresidented campaign season. We the People still have no idea who will be occupying the oval office next January. No one has hit their delegate count yet, and political fervor and favor morph every day. It’s still true that a candidate will say and do just about anything for a vote, but the pandering has hit a new level. I’ve seen hyperbole on both sides of the aisle, and enough locker room vulgarity to last me until the next election cycle. Nothing is shocking anymore, nothing is surprising. Except for maybe the fact that this year is unknowable and unpredictable. Even the polls are getting everything—including us—wrong. I yearn for the days when you could walk down the streets of your town and profile your fellow citizens perfectly. You could nail them—what their religion was, where they liked to eat, what their hobbies were, where they liked to shop, what music they enjoyed, and so on, by their political yard sign.

I remember what I said to my daughter years ago when she asked me why I didn’t park closer to a convenience store way off the highway in the North Carolina countryside. I rolled my foreign car into an obscure spot under about 32 trees. It was an election year and I told her I didn’t want to offend anyone with my bumper stickers. In reality, I didn’t want anyone to key scratch my car when we were inside the store.

Now, you can’t presume anything about an individual based on the candidate they’re supporting. Even if it seems obvious. As a nation most of us have been forced to settle a bit when it comes to our current crop of candidates. You might vote for someone in a primary just because they are the lesser of two, three, or four evils. You might vote for one candidate simply to negate another. There are exceptions of course. I’ve already spotted a few unapologetic Bernie signs around town. They’ve been mounted by the young, the idealistic, and the vegan. Okay, that’s not fair, but I like to stereotype. (However, my teenage daughter is a relentless Feel the Bern fan and she’s been a vegetarian for over five years now.)

The great irony of all this is that I’m old enough to remember wearing Nehru collars, maxi dresses, and elephant bell pants. I listened to the Cowsills, collected Aquarius posters, and filled my room with incense and peppermints. And I’m still not 100% sure of my vote. Is it because I also own a pair of cowboy boots, enjoy skeet shooting, and was born in Houston, Texas? This has been a crazy election year so far for We the People. One filled with bemusement, soul-searching, and ambivalence. Some of us won’t be able to cast our ballots with the same enthusiasm as in years past. Maybe because we’re confused about our own political yard sign. In most cases—at least in the primaries—we might be forced to just hold our noses and pull the lever.

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