When GW Bush was elected president I was 17 years old. I was enrolled in AP Government at the time, reading Bush camp articles that describe plain-as-day their plans to "take out Saddam". Gore was painted a wishful-thinking environmentalist, whose association with the previous 8 years of prosperity was somehow nullified by the fact that he was boring. I don't know what was going through Gore's head through it all - it's kinda like Hillary getting bested by Barack Obama. "This is mine. Why is this guy raining on my parade?" Except where Hillary fought back with her inner hysterical bitch, Gore's voice seemed to weaken as he re-iterated how he differed with Bush on HMO coverage. Afraid to go for the throat. I guess too much time working with people makes you soft when you have to work against them. Of course, it helped that Bush's cronies in the South rigged the elections, and that the Supreme Court sold the presidency to Bush, and that Gore chose not to contest further, opting to listen to the "will of the people".
Most of all in that process, in my world I was a 17 year old: I drove my dad's truck to school, I was in a very popular band, had many friends and played a shit tonne of video games. However, I could not vote, and the whole process I observed very passively. And when it all went down, the dust clear and Bush standing at the podium, I was still 17, and still very high, still playing a shit tonne of video games and being young, and the state of the nation was more an abstract notion than it was concrete reality. This detachment was compounded by the fact that I was living in Alaska, where we really, really do not give a fuck about the lower 48. Except for their military contracts, their oil money, their sweet sweet taxpayer dollars funnelled home by Uncle Ted, and their foodstuffs, consumer electronics and 12" records that we fly in daily to keep us alive. Besides that, we don't give a fuck.
And my detachment continued throughout college - even 9/11, as vivid a day as it was, was as foreign to me as reports of Eastern European ethnic disputes. And I watched the world slip into horror through the television screen, even though I was still eating highly delicious burritos, playing starcraft 8 hours a day, and getting drunk as hell while doing it. Even when 2004 rolled around I was still detached - Alaska always goes red, always - so I voted for the libertarian candidate, just for the hell of it. I'm pretty sure he got 10% that year. However, what sickened me in the rest of the nation is that not only was Bush re-elected, but by a MAJORITY of Americans. I understand that there was a lot of rhetoric bandied about and that Kerry was a remarkably uncharismatic leader, but the fact of the matter is that Bush basically declared war, against the wishes of the UN, for no good reason (not in the end nor the beginning) - and the American people, no matter how conflicted they were in the moments leading up to that choice, voted to CONDONE this action. I was disappointed in the lower 48, in the imaginary world. Kind of like if your simcity has a bout of urban decay and your once-gilded downtown is a slum populated by crackheads. That kind of disappointment. My solution is to end the program.
So then I went to Denmark, and continued to play in intense fantasy worlds of my own creation, eating danish pastries, building mowthelawn.net, learning to smoke cigarettes. I remember when I came back one of the first things my dad said. "Hey dad so... how's it going?" "well, the war's going badly!" It was 2005 and there was still a war. And we were calling it a war, not an intervention-by-force, or use of deadly measures, but a war. Now, considering that it's 2009 and we still have troops there, you might think "buck up Q, you have 4 more years" but to me, it was long overdue. The price tag had bloated, and basically every reason I had said this was a bad idea ended up coming true, things like underground resistance movements causing a lot more trouble than was expected.... BUUUUUUUUUUT we're not here to rant about the war.
And upon receiving my degree from the university of Alaska, I went out to make my way in the world, and Get A Job, and Get Rich like all CS majors inevitably do. So I moved to rainy Capitol Hill, Seattle, and got my 10-6 shift at Beetlabs, and soaked into the lower 48 until I lived in Seattle. And living in Seattle was very horrifying, because there were no trees, and junkies everywhere (working in Pioneer Square, living on Cap Hill), and it was dirty, and QFC is a crappy place to buy groceries, and there are SO MANY PEOPLE, I-5 is a giant river of cars, each one coughing up carbon monoxide to the sky; it was culture shock. But I assimilated and began to count myself as part of America, and become somewhat invested in her future.
And after watching Bush fuck it up absolutely royally, 2008 started looking really, really good. I'll admit I was a Ron Paul supporter at first but, wary to the ways of the spoiler candidate, I bowed in favor of Barack Obama for the primary, as there was a chance Clinton might win Washington. (It was also convenient that my housemates were driving to the caucus while I was awake and clothed.) And soon I began to take Obama as My Candidate, and it was like having a sports team to root for, and better yet, a sports team that didn't suck. Obama was intelligent, eloquent, and best of all, able to brush aside the absolute bullshit that was tossed his way, rather than try to ignore it like candidates of the past. Obama was a different beast and the old ways didn't work on him.
So, long story short, I voted for him in the primary and in the general election, and he won. That was the first vote I cast where I voted for the winner - certainly I don't vote to be with The Majority - but I am delighted that my choice has carried through to the top. Today marks that victory, and that contribution, and best of all: the exodus of Bush, and god willing, Bush politics.
The cynical part of me is waiting for Obama to flub, and meet friction in the Senate, as the Republicans are often very clever in screwing the plans of the Democrats, but I am still hopeful. What we need now from Obama is more talk of individual responsibility, some brilliant government programs, and some foreign policy magic to get everybody singing the same song.
Dogged pursuit of a war crimes trial of Bush & Co. would be a welcome bonus, but I have no delusions.