For the first time in my four years of election eligibility, I voted for a candidate who didn’t win. Naturally, I’m disappointed. But I have a feeling that even if Democrat Creigh Deeds had been elected over Republican Bob McDonnell in Virginia’s governor’s race on Tuesday, I would still feel disappointed.
Last November’s general election was exhilarating for me, and not just because I voted for Barack Obama. Reporting for the Free Lance-Star as an intern, I witnessed first-hand the skyrocketing registration rates, below-the-belt campaign ads and tearful testimonies from first-time voters. The youth were mobilized; we finally spoke up. Whether or not you were politically satisfied with last year’s outcome, there’s no denying that it was historic. There’s no denying it was exciting.
In their bids for Virginia’s governor’s seat, both parties’ campaigns during the past few months were completely lackluster. Granted, gubernatorial elections never have the same poll numbers or general enthusiasm as presidential elections, but this year was an extreme.
I didn’t vote for Creigh Deeds, I voted for the guy who wasn’t Bob McDonnell. I voted for the guy who didn’t write his dissertation about how working mothers and feminists are “detrimental” to families. I voted for the guy who didn’t prohibit the UMW bookstore from selling “Obama was there, I was there” T-shirts for the future president’s visit to campus last year.
Deeds was bland. I know it’s not fair to compare him to Obama, but I can’t help it. While I can’t find a lot of things to criticize about his campaign, I also can’t find a lot of things to praise. I’m not sure what’s worse.
So no one will ever top Obama. No election will live up to my first presidential one. But that doesn’t mean I should stop caring. That doesn’t mean I should vote on party lines just because I feel obligated to. That doesn’t mean I should skim the local government stories in the Washington Post so I have time to finish the crossword. Sure, not every election is dramatic and inspiring, but every election is important.
As someone who wears a vintage “Bill Clinton for President” shirt without ironic intentions, I’m actually glad I don’t live in a true-blue state. It’s stimulating to be immersed in such a diverse and ever-changing political climate. A Republican governor with two Democratic senators and 11 almost-evenly divided congressmen should make for some fun headlines during the next few years.
The Bullet staff is holding an election of our own next week for next semester’s editor-in-chief. As the other editors carefully ponder my replacement and stress about their own candidacies, I ask them to keep one thing in mind:
There’s always next year.