Voting cute

There is an old truism that the handsomer presidential candidate usually wins. Sometimes it’s true: Warren Harding was very distinguished-looking, and Kennedy was certainly better-looking than Nixon.

I voted for Barack Obama last week (of course I did!), but I have to admit, to my shame, that I don’t think he was the handsomer of the two candidates. Mitt Romney, for all his wishy-washy political loathsomeness, is very good-looking, and Paul Ryan is perfectly dreamy.

Somehow, however, I managed to vote with my brain, not my hormones.

Does this really work? One wonders whether McCain’s advisors thought Sarah Palin added sex appeal to the campaign. (I honestly wonder if Romney’s advisors thought the same about Ryan.) John Kerry (who’s merely acceptable-looking) chose the soap-opera handsome John Edwards as VP in 2004. (It was only later that we discovered what a scuzzball Edwards really was. OMG! Fox News was actually right about something!) Clinton was certainly a more attractive man than either George H. W. Bush or Bob Dole.

And so on, and so on.

Does it really make a difference?


In 1972 I managed to get my mother to register to vote, so that she could vote for George McGovern. (Dad registered too, and I’m certain he voted for Nixon, not that it did the country much good.) Mom got a little nostalgic. “This is only the second time I’ve voted,” she told me. “The first time was in 1948, and I voted for Tom Dewey, because he was so cute. I loved his mustache.”

So there you have it.

Living under an enemy administration

On Election Night 1980, I was in the Graduate Center Bar at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, watching the election returns. The media declared Reagan the winner over Carter fairly early, as I recall. I was standing next to a short fat guy, who muttered: “Now it’s our turn.”



I got the creeps all over as he said it.



As it turned out, I had the creeps for another twelve years.



I have lived under a Republican Presidency for most of my life, as I calculate it: 1957-1960 (three years of Eisenhower, which I barely remember, as I was a toddler); 1969-1976 (seven years of Nixon/Ford, which was intermittently disastrous, but not entirely catastrophic); 1980-1992 (eight years of Ronald Reagan, tragedy/comedy, and four years of G. H. W. Bush, mostly comedy, with the terrifying exception of Operation Desert Storm); and eight years of George W. Bush (pure disaster).



So that’s thirty years of my life under a Republican administration. And I am still alive.



To be sure, Eisenhower was not out to kill or disenfranchise me. Nixon, much as he was a rascal, did not try to do so either. Gerald Ford, God bless him, was not the kind of person to do harm to a little periwinkle like me. G. H. W. Bush was a quasi-jerk, but not as extreme as his son. G. W. Bush was a total jerk, and eight years of him was agony.



Mitt Romney has declared himself against gay marriage, abortion, Affordable Care, etc. He says he wants to “take back America.” From whom? I don’t have it at the moment; I feel, in fact, that I am not so much in control of anything in America. So who’s he taking it back from?



Mitt Romney is the total anti-package. He is what I do not want.



I do not want to find myself on election night in November 2012, with a sweaty little fat man standing next to me, watching Romney being declared winner, and hearing him say: “Now it’s our turn.”



Once is enough.



Kids: you know what you have to do.



Vote, please. Vote your hearts. And make sure your friends and family vote. (And if you’re unlucky enough to have family in a Republican-controlled state, help them get their ID cards.)



Keep climbing.



We can do this.


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