False Dawn | Vox Pop | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

False Dawn

Election Day breaks a campaign's promise




Do you mind if I revisit the freaking nightmare that was the election? Never have I been so wrong about so much in such a short period of time.




The Monday night before voting day, I turned on C-SPAN to see Bruce Springsteen strumming and singing for the Kerry faithful in Ohio. My girlfriend started crying, tears of joy for the impending victory. Soon the Neanderthal would have plenty of time to clear brush back at the ranch. I began to prepare myself not to gloat ... too much.


Tuesday morning, Election Day, was one of the most gorgeous autumn mornings I've seen in eight years in Pittsburgh. I opened all the windows in my apartment and let the winds of freedom blow. Curiously, it blew down the Kerry-Edwards campaign sign on my fireplace mantle. (Yes I'm a political junkie and a geek). A bad omen? Nahhh. Silly superstition.


I put the convertible top down and cruised to the coffee shop, where I convinced an on-the-fence coffee chick to vote for the new JFK. One more vote for the good guys, I thought. I drove to Riverview Park, where Kerry volunteers were making food and getting ready to drive voters to the polls and chatting it up about high turnout, which we all thought would favor the Democrats.


The men, including myself, were making bold predictions about the margin of victory. The women were more fingernail-biting, cautiously optimistic types. As the election outcome proves once again, women are smart, men are stupid. (Kerry got more chicks, Bush more dudes).


Still on cloud nine, I got in my convertible and spotted the Channel 4 news van. They were taking action for me. They had been alerted to an evil Republican poll-watcher who had pissed me off when I voted shortly after 7 that morning at a North Side elementary school.


The GOP stooge stood out like a rocket scientist at a W rally. The poll workers were African-American, casually dressed and slouching comfortably as people checked in to vote. The Bush-loving intimidator was a tall thin unbelievably white white guy in a suit, who stood stormtrooper-erect, smarmily nosing around where he didn't belong. He located himself directly behind the workers at the voting table, which he is not allowed to do. The election judge told him to stop it. I was so happy Channel 4's Jim Parsons featured this prick in one of their stories about voting problems: It was another omen that the forces of darkness would not win the day. Or so I believed in my delusionally optimistic haze.


In the early evening I phoned a friend who had yet to vote and tried to cajole him to get his lazy butt to the polls and vote for regime change. I was getting deliriously giddy. Although I had taken notice that what was once an autumnal postcard of a day had turned windy, rainy and shitty. Could this be a bad omen? Nahhhhh.


My plan was to catch a catnap, hit the shower, and then skip down to the Station Square Sheraton, where Democrats were to hold their victory party. How much fun would it be to dance the victory dance with spaced-out hipsters, union thugs and backslapping pols, all intoxicated on cheap wine and cheap election thrills.


But the buzz emanating from the TV was troubling. Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer and Peter Jennings, etc., didn't seem to be describing any particular positive trend. The always-annoying Shep Smith looked a little too happy on Fox. So I stayed. And I watched. And I moped.


Fast-forward to four in the morning. I'm still home, busy revising the lyrics of the old CSN&Y song in my head. There appear to be two more dead in Ohio, and their names are Kerry and Edwards.


Then all I could think of were the lyrics to an old Paul Simon song:


Four in the morning


Crapped out




Longing my life away


I'll never worry


Why should l?


It's all gonna fade

As I watched John Kerry's chances of victory fade into the dark and stormy night
(if candidates can incessantly repeat clichés, so can I), I couldn't shake Simon's song out of my head. The country, it seems, is still crazy after all these years.

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