Election Day Rituals

As a kid growing up in California, Tuesdays were always Dad’s night, so I would go home from school and watch the returns from the big blue couch in the living room. My dad would surf between the Networks and PBS. I remember Tom Jennings the most because he was my dad’s favorite. The first Election Night I remember was in 1988 when George H.W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis. I remember looking out the window at our Dukakis yard sign and feeling sad, as if somehow we had failed. Clearly sticking one yard sign in the front yard of a Berkeley home was not enough. It was going to take more involvement.

Years later I watched the 2000 Election from ratty, old thrift-shop couches in my college living room. What had once been an every-four-year ritual of gathering around the television in the evening to watch the votes pour in became a nightly ritual for two months. I felt like Bill Murray in a way-more devastating version of the movie Groundhog Day (as if watching Gore and another Bush campaign didn’t already make me feel that way).

Then there was the 2004 Election Night, which was the first Election Night I spent in New York City, and of all places, I spent it on the couch of Michael Moore’s Manhattan production office. Michael and all my other co-workers had been in Florida, Ohio and eventually Michigan on that day, leaving me in the office with an army of interns, monitoring the news, digitizing tapes and coordinating shoots for a documentary on the 2004 youth vote that Michael was making. By two-in-the-morning all the interns were gone, the phone had stopped ringing, and I was curled up on Michael’s couch, full of lemon cake (which I had bought for the interns to celebrate Kerry’s victory) and despair. A few hours later I realized I must have drifted into sleep when the phone rang with the BBC on the other line. She wanted a comment from Michael about Kerry’s loss. For the first time ever, after answering millions of calls, I asked the woman to call back. I couldn’t even take a message in my 5 a.m. election hangover.

But that’s all me. Feeling despair seems to be my primary ritual on Election Day. It’s a bit sad. I don’t even go to the polls since I always vote early by absentee ballot.

Luckily, someone has a much better Election Day ritual that he does not intend to break this year, despite the fact that he is RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT.

From US Weekly [www.usmagazine.com]:

John McCain and his wife, Cindy have set an election day date: lunch and a movie!

“We have a routine [we've] done for years,” Cindy said on Ryan Seacrest’s KIIS-FM radio show Thursday morning. “We’ll go vote, and then we’ll go to the movies…I don’t know what we’ll see yet, I haven’t had a chance to look.

“And then we’ll come back and have Mexican food and then probably watch some TV,” she added. “And by then, it’ll be late afternoon and the returns will start to come in.”

Joked Seacrest: “So you’re watching High School Musical 3 and having a burrito?”

“Exactly!” said Cindy.

–Jamie Wong