Friday, November 9, 2012

Election Day As Seen From Australia

It comes around every four years in the United States:  Election Day!  Ok, so it actually comes around a lot more often than that, but the big one comes around every four years.  It’s always on a Tuesday and everyone races home from work to sit in front of the TV with champagne to celebrate their candidate winning or lots of chocolate and Cheetos and ice cream to comfort themselves when their candidate doesn’t win.  Then, four hours later, it’s nearly bedtime and Florida can’t figure out how the hell to count ballots correctly so no winner has been decided so you stay awake until the wee hours of the morning watching CNN or MSNBC or FOX News if you’re an asshole until some other state comes along and tips it in one direction. Or, alternatively, you pass out at some point before it’s been decided and as soon as your alarm goes off on Wednesday morning the very first thing you do – you know, before you pee or before you decide whether or not to take care of your morning wood – is reach for your laptop and pull up the news page and check to see if Florida has figured out how the fuck to count goddamn ballots yet.  And then, depending on the result, you make that call about your morning wood.

Oh, tradition.

But tradition has been broken here in Australia.  Thanks to 16 hour time difference between Sydney and the east coast of the U.S., the first polls began to close late Wednesday morning Australia time.  And that only meant one thing: a super productive day at the office.  Ros (the other American on my team) and I pulled up and the New York Times website and I also pulled up a local newspaper each from Maryland and Maine to get the latest updates on the marriage equality ballot measures there.  And then we waited for the results to come in.

We answered an e-mail.  Then we refreshed our browsers.  We printed something.  Then we refreshed our browsers.  We made a cup of tea.  And again we refreshed our browsers.  Every few minutes.  Just to see if anything new happened – if any new states had been called for Obama or any updates on the ballot measures came through.  We couldn’t have champagne because getting drunk at work is frowned upon by management, and we couldn’t have Cheetos because (1) they don’t sell them here and (2) even if they did, it would make our keyboards super dirty, so we were forced to wait without any comfort food or drink.  Finally, by late afternoon, Florida was still counting their goddamn ballots as usual but Ohio and Pennsylvania and Virginia came through and Obama was declared victorious.  Woohoo!

And then, after Ros and I exchanged a high give, I closed up and the New York Times website but continued to refresh my browsers on the local Maryland and Maine newspaper websites until they came through, which wasn’t too much longer.  And I pulled up the Seattle Times website to check on the marriage and marijuana ballot measures there and refreshed that one every few minutes too.  Until the end of the day.  And then later at home.  Until I realized that they weren’t going to call marriage in Washington until either way late or tomorrow and decided that the lead was big enough for me to be comfortable so I wandered off to bed.

It was a bit strange watching the election from so far away, but despite the distance, it was a big topic of conversation here in Australia in the weeks leading up to it.  All of my American expat friends patiently awaited their ballots – from Washington and Florida and New York and New Jersey and wherever else – and then everybody kept asking if we had gotten our ballots yet, and if so, have we filled them out and mailed them back with ample time for it to reach American soil and be counted on Election Day?  Oooo – and “what was on your ballot?” was another big question because it’s so different for every state.  I vote in Washington state, and I’m going to make a bold statement that our ballot this year was probably the most exciting one because we got to vote on both marriage and marijuana.  Woohoo!

And the next fun part was explaining to all of the Aussies about all of the different things on our ballot and completely blowing their minds.  They were all up in the business of Obama vs Romney, but they didn’t previously comprehend the extent of what everyone got to vote on, and how it differed from state to state, county to county, and city to city.  And then I’d go off on a big tangent about Tammy Baldwin and her awesome lesbian Senateness or marijuana and the federal vs state showdown that might ensue (which to them was stupid, and really it is), and marriage and how yes it’s now passed in three more states but still not recognized by the federal government (which to them was stupid as well, and really it is), and then after their minds were sufficiently blown they take a breath and excitedly ask me “Did you see all those idiots on Twitter who said that they were going to move to Australia because Romney lost?” Idiots because they are all right-wing Republicans yet they are threatening to move to a country with an atheist Prime Minster who is living in sin, universal health care, strict gun control, and no constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech.  And then I explained that those people are from what we call “red states” and they haven’t gone through the best education system.

All in all, Election Day was a pretty sweet victory for America.  Why you ask?  If you’ve seen my Facebook, then you can probably stop reading here and skip down to the last two lines because I’m pretty much going to copy/paste what I wrote yesterday.

Warning:  Strong language ahead.

OBAMA.  ELIZABETH WARREN.  TAMMY BALDWIN IN THE MOTHERFUCKING U.S. SENATE.  Holy. fucking. cow.  We now have marriage EQUALITY in MAINE and MARYLAND and my amazing adopted home state of WASHINGTON.  We’ve got marijuana becoming legal in both Washington and Colorado, and we have a RECORD SIX GLBT MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.  Those two assholes that made comments about “legitimate rape” and rape babies being a gift from god both got raped at the polls – as did Hawaiian wench Linda Lingle, who once-upon-a-time-as-governor invited gay rights activists to a civil unions bill signing ceremony and then vetoed it right in front of them.  Thanks to Democrat Mazie Hirono, Linda Lingle has just been VETOED.  ACCESS DENIED, BITCH.  Karma.  Maria Cantwell is back for another term as U.S. Senator from Washington and our Democratic candidate for governor edged out the Republican to continue Washington’s 30+ years streak of Democrats in the governor’s mansion.  The Minnesota marriage ban has been soundly defeated and an Iowa judge who supported marriage equality in 2009 has survived a crucial retention vote.  8 – READ THAT:  EIGHT – hideous constitutional amendments drafted by right-wing Republicans in Florida have ALL been incredibly shot down in a stunning display of voters bitch-slapping those crazy right-wing dildoes in Tallahassee.  On a related note – a mate from high school has just been elected as one of the first GLBT members of the Florida Legislature.  AND – the seventeeth layer of icing on the cake:  Democrats in Colorado regained control of their State House of Representatives, paving the way for their first openly gay Speaker of the House AND a civil unions bill that is sure to pass this time around.

And did I mention TWO-TERM PRESIDENT OBAMA – AND ELIZABETH WARREN AND TAMMY BALDWIN IN THE MOTHERFUCKING U.S. SENATE?  A-M-A-Z-E-B-A-L-L-S.  What a great day for America, the gays, and the world.  WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And after hearing me give an abridged version of this excited rant at work today, one of my co-workers turned to me and said, “Yeah, but who is Diane Sawyer and just how drunk was she?”

I suppose that’s important to know too.

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