Political Fallout

Well here we are on the day after election day, 2018. I had a later night than I ought to have had last night, but I just can’t help watching all the results as they pour (or trickle) in. I was following three news sources simultaneously last night. CNN for television results (because I continue to find them the most middle of the road network), FiveThirtyEight for online national analysis (seriously, their liveblog and results graphs were really informative and spot on, particularly after they fixed their model that was giving me a heart attack at the beginning of the evening), and the Bangor Daily News site for local results (which came in far too slowly, but welcome to Maine.)

I wanted to do a couple of things with today’s post. First, to go over some of the things that happened yesterday, because the day proved memorable for a few reasons. And second, to go over the results themselves and give a rundown of my thoughts. First, the events.

In my twelve elections here in Maine, I’ve never had to wait in line longer than 2 or 3 minutes to cast my vote. Yesterday I ducked over before my reference desk shift, thinking I had 25 minutes, so plenty of time to walk over, vote, and come back. It ended up taking me almost an hour. I waited in line for 45 minutes. I counted more than 200 people in line when I left. I’m not sure how much of that was due to higher turnout, and how much of it was due to a more complex ballot. (Maine was doing Ranked Choice Voting for some elections, so we ended up having three different pieces of paper we had to turn in at the end.) In any case, it was surprising.

As I walked up to the voting location, there was the customary crowd of people around the door, asking me to sign petitions or wanting to shake my hand. I’m always, frankly, irritated by this. I don’t want to meet or talk to people when I vote. I feel like they’re being nosy, and I want them to mind their own business. This time there was also a tent set up with a big banner hanging from it. It was pretty text heavy. I scanned it for a moment, then just kept walking. No one was there, so I didn’t think more on it.

Later, I found out the tent was being staffed by a person who was out trying to talk to people he thought might be students registering to vote. His goal? He wanted to “educate voters” about the consequences of registering to vote in a place you don’t permanently live. While nothing he was saying was false, the fact that he was targeting students and listing off potential laws they might end up breaking leaves little to the imagination of what his goal was. I got steamed about it, posted his picture to social media and called him a less-than-flattering word (which I subsequently apologized for, because I shouldn’t have done that). Still frustrating. I suppose I can sort of kind of see what he thought he was doing or how he justified it to himself, but the net result is trying to get people to not vote, which feels pretty sleazy to me.

Despite all of that, we now have results. Over all, I’m quite pleased with how the election went. A few notes:

  • Nationally, it played out about how it was predicted. Republicans took more of the Senate than I’d like, but Democrats came on strong in the House. At least there’s a break on the runaway train that’s been the Trump administration up until now. I would have loved to have seen a big ol’ blue tsunami rush through everything, showing to the country and the world that America won’t stand for continuous racist behavior, but apparently enough Americans are okay with it to support it, either believing A) racism is okay or B) it’s not really racist. Whatever. I’ll take what I can get.
  • Locally, the Democrats cleaned house. We have our first female Governor in Janet Mills, and they took the House and the Senate. I’m happy to see the LePage administration finally exit stage left, and I’m excited to see what the new government comes up with.
  • The bond measure for the university system passed as well, meaning my library will get a renovation in some form, which makes me happy personally.
  • Ranked Choice Voting is actually going to come into play for the Poliquin/Golden House of Representative race, which also is exciting. I’m glad to see it put to use already, and I hope people stick with it. I’d love to see it extended to all Maine elections.

In any case, today feels much better to me than two years ago. While my faith in our country isn’t full restored, I’m encouraged by the process and feel much more optimistic for the future. Again, I don’t have anything against the Republican principles I grew up with. I can get behind a lot of their goals. It’s the methods they’ve been using to achieve them, the ideologies they’ve been embracing, the rhetoric they’ve used, and the leader they’ve chosen that has led me to reject them as a political machine. Until they switch things up, I’m for anything that takes them out of power.

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