This is it. Election Day. One of my favorite secular holidays. I believe everyone should get the day off, and the bars should serve free drinks and ice cream after the polls close. Even my daughters seem excited: our youngest was up at 3:00 AM and our four-year-old cheerfully informed me she hopes Mitt Romney wins because “he wore a red-and-purple tie, and those are my favorite colors.”
I covered a few elections when I was a reporter and I still get infected by the excitement. For all my talk about being sick of the campaigning, there’s really nothing like the kind of charge you can get on Election Day. Sports fans, I know you think you’ve got the lock on intensity when it comes to game day, but trust me. Watch a bunch of former debate geeks, policy wonks, and political junkies waiting for the returns; it’s like a pack of werewolves taking over the local Holiday Inn. By the time the bartender finally escapes, there are claw marks in the drywall and someone’s eaten the carpet.
No matter who wins, I enjoy this part, with everybody equal parts exhausted and exhilarated and anxious. By tomorrow morning, you’re going to hear wails of despair and rage. There might be recounts, lawsuits, and the inevitable disappointment when the story doesn’t end cleanly and crisply, with a winner over here and a loser over there.
But right now, everyone is filled with a kind of savage joy, waiting for the moment when we all get to find out what happens. For all the misinformation, hype, spin, partisan hackery and outright lying, I’m always glad to see this day come. For a few hours, at least, millions of people all give a collective damn about what happens to our country and our future. As flawed and imperfect as the process is, it reflects our own flaws and imperfections, and our hopes to make something better on the next go-round.
If that’s not worth free beer and ice cream, then I don’t know what qualifies.