What I’m Most Looking Forward to After the Election

Aside from not automatically having an inward cringe when I think of the occupant of the White House, that is — is the fact that I will finally get my brain back. It’s been extremely difficult for me to focus on anything but the election since about midway through September, which has not been a good thing; I admit I’ve been one of those people who has been refreshing FiveThirtyEight.com like a rat at a feeder bar and otherwise cruising political sites.

I tried not to — I even took every political site out of my RSS feed, and then when I realized everyone else on my RSS feed was still talking about the election, stopped reading my RSS feed entirely — but in the end I was weak. This election season was one of those times when it actually would have been helpful to have a full-time job with a boss and everything, so someone could have threatened me with, like, death for not focusing on work. As it was, when I saw my Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden the other week, we had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: I have to admit to you I’m getting nothing done because I’m obsessed with this election.

PNH: I’m sorry, I was reading Daily Kos off my Blackberry. What were you saying?

So, you know. He’s no help. I mean, I’m still doing work — gotta eat and everything — but let’s just say anything that requires huge amounts of actual brainpower is waiting until after Tuesday. Oh, and probably Wednesday. Possibly Thursday. And if McCain wins, I may take to my bed through the rest of the week. But after THAT! Back to work. Thank God.

How’s your level of election distraction been this time around? And is it more or less than in 2004? Because I gotta tell you, I have it so much more worse this year.

92 Comments on “What I’m Most Looking Forward to After the Election”

  1. My distraction levels? Oh, no. I’m not distracted at all. I haven’t been checking Gallup and RealClear once a day. Nope, not at all.

    … Is it over yet?

  2. My level of distraction is only a little less than in 2004, mainly because we have serious projects going on right now. I still feel like a twitchy junkie if I don’t watch MSNBC at night and hit Daily Kos a few times a day, though…

  3. My distraction levels are way higher than in 2004. Part of the reason is the fact that I’m working from home now, so I’m present to answer all the robocalls.

    I have to say, though, if the ratio of Democrat to Republican robocalls is any indication of the motivation of the respective parties’ bases, the Dems want to win this thing way more than the Republicans do. I’ve had ten (D) calls to every (R) call, and four (D) door-to-door folks to zero (R) canvassers.

  4. Talking Points Memo mentioned this weekend that they had over 15 million hits in October.

    I personally accounted for 28% of them.

    So, no, I’m not overly invested…

  5. My level of obsession is fairly high. A job at an office is unhelpful in my case. Forcing me to sit in front of a computer for eight hours a day is essentially forcing me to sit in front of Daily Kos eight hours a day. I live in Pennsylvania but I actually knew who the hell Sarah Palin was before the McCain campaign picked her. That was the moment when I realized the term “junkie” applied, at least for this election cycle, and have since reflected upon the appropriate negative connotations of that term.

  6. Way, way worse this year… and I can’t even vote (though my wife can, and some of my kids can). Still pay taxes though.

    Anyhow… way worse this year; been enmeshed since the primaries. Had fooled myself that I could live with Clinton or Obama, until she started winning too and there was like this huge rock appeared in my gut.

    And though I’ve always cared who won, I never really cared for the Dem candidates until this year.

    Careful what we wish for though: the last person I voted for was also the only one who ever won, and that was Tony Blair, when he was new too. But that election night – ’97 was it? – watching the Tories fall in Britain after all those years, now that was a night that lives long in the memory.

  7. In 2004, I worked at the local paper and sat beneath a TV that ran constant CNN. This time around it’s much easier to avoid the constant river… but I’ll really be happy when it’s all over and we can go back to ads for things like, I don’t know, laundry detergent and soda! So far no RoboCalls and no door-to-doors–but I live downtown, so perhaps I’m not in such a “swing neighborhood.”

    Most of all, I look forward to everyone paying attention again to other things going on in the world.

  8. About the same. I wish the Democrats would nominate someone I wanted to vote for, rather than giving me candidates whom I want to vote against. Lieberman comes to mind. For that matter, I wish the Republicans would nominate someone I wanted to vote for, rather than being a lessor evil.

    I’ll make a sad prediction: the next round will have at least three trillion dollars spent, one in the primary for the losing party in this year’s, then one on each side for the election.

  9. Me: I have to admit to you I’m getting nothing done because I’m obsessed with this election.

    PNH: I’m sorry, I was reading Daily Kos off my Blackberry. What were you saying?

    Yes, yes, and yes again. When the Palin stuff started hitting the fan in a big way, I even started reading Mudflats, an Alaskan blog. So I can safely say that my interest level this time around is way waay greater than in 2004.

    I will be very happy when Tuesday is over.

  10. I’m looking forward to not worrying, “Am I doing enough?”

    Have I dug deep enough into my wallet? Have I knocked on enough doors? Will I have driven enough of the older folk from the neighborhood to the polls? Will I regret that I didn’t make that last trip to New Hampshire to canvass there?

    I’m a bit of a wreck… and will be, I think, until well into Wednesday morning.

    Or moving to Canada. ;)

  11. I think my students will be happy. These poor people here in Kyoto just want to learn English, and it’s so very, very hard for me to keep on-topic.

    To their credit, I’ve had some students who are really interested in the election – and I’m doing a special event on the subject tomorrow night. It’ll be a kind of final release before I get to chewing my nails Wednesday morning….

    After all this is over, I can get back to drilling grammar and correcting syntax and pronunciation errors. I’m sure everyone will be relieved.

  12. I’m distracted to the point where Tuesday is acting like it’s wrapped in an event horizon.


    d o w n……

    i n…

    t h e . . .

    getting there.

    Whew! Is it tomorrow yet? Aw.


  13. I have some bad news for you.

    The 2012 election will begin on Nov 5th.

    This will especially be the case if Obama loses. It may start as late as Nov 7th if he doesn’t.

  14. Way more obsessed this year. This is the first time I have actually been scared about the outcome of an election.

  15. I’m more distracted and that’s saying a lot since I’ve always been a political junkie. The best news is that by hitting this site I can satisfy my two greatest distractions – Whatever and thinking about politics. It’s a one-stop time suck!

  16. In 2004, I was working in an office and REALLY unenthusiastic about Kerry (it boiled down to, “He’s better than Bush, because he HAS to be, but could he be any less inspiring?”) so I watched election night coverage but wasn’t terribly invested before that.

    This year, I’m working from home and Obama is the public speaker Kerry should have been, and I’ve been — well, obsessed is such an ugly word.

  17. The 2012 election will begin on Nov 5th.

    It’s already started. Bobby Jindal held a fund-raising lunch several weeks ago that was clearly positioning himself for 2012.

  18. The thing I’m most looking forward to after the election is planning my trip to D.C. for the inauguration ball. Not that I could afford it, but (depending on the (by the polls, forgone) conclusion) it will be an historic moment and one I want to take part in very very much.

  19. It’s worse for me, mostly because NC wasn’t a battleground state last time. My husband had 6 robocalls yesterday, mostly from the Dems. Plus there’s the Senate race, which has been just nasty the last couple of weeks. There have been several days when ALL of our mail was political spam.

    I just want it to be over. I voted last week and wished then that I got a magic device to make the ads and things go away.

  20. The 2012 election will begin on Nov 5th.
    This will especially be the case if Obama loses.

    You’re assuming you will still have elections if Obama loses…


  21. In 2004 I sorta expected Kerry to win, because, well, from the outside it looked like Bush must surely (surely!) be some kind of bizarre statistical anomaly spawned by the malignant God of Incompetence – but I didn’t actually follow the preliminaries/election, and was surprised when Bush got re-elected.

    Here in 2008 the situation seems so much more dire, there seems to be so much more riding on the outcome, and (in short) I’ve been much more scared – because after 2004’s result I’ve been expecting the American populace to drool their way to the voting booths, feed their hanging chads into Diebold machines, and spin their bizarre and archaic political system into a victory for zombie Ronald Reagan or something. Fortunately fivethirtyeight.com tells me that zombie Reagan is polling poorly, and I’m very relieved to see that Obama seems to be winning by a wide margin. The American populace is happily proving itself smarter than my fears.

    Which is a round-about way of saying that I’ve become something of an American election junkie. Meanwhile the New Zealand election is on the 8th, and I’ve not been following it at all!

  22. I’m totally obsessed with this election, way more than I have been during past elections. I really, really care about the outcome, and besides that, the candidate I’m voting for is one I genuinely like and believe in.

  23. I cannot focus on anything else hardly. And I do have a boss. Which can only mean that just below my insatiable interest for election coverage is a deep-unbridled fear of being summarily canned that plagues. I should not even be reading your blog right now.


  24. I’m just looking forward to Wednesday, when legalized loan sharks will stop running their “Issue 5 will cause you to spontaneously combust and turn your children gay” ads.

  25. The only reason I’ve had any kind of focus this semester is that if I try to weasel out of doing my homework to repeatedly hit reload on poll sites, my boyfriend gives me that disapproving, eyebrow slightly raised look that lets me know he thinks that all Americans are morons. I want this to be over so I can stop stressing about politics and get back to stressing about my upcoming term project! I imagine it’ll also mean I’m going to save a lot of money on alcoholic beverages, since every time I talk politics with someone, I feel the urge to kill some of my neurons with wine.

    This is way, way, WAY worse than 2004. Aside from the political awfulness of the last eight years, I think that’s thrown this one into drinking territory for me is that I actually really, really like Obama as a human being (as much as one can like another human being they’ve only ever seen on TV and had no personal contact with). And that I STILL want to punch John McCain in the nuts for his little “health” comment. Add that with the anti-abortion stuff that’s on the Colorado ballot this year and…

    Great, it’s only 9 in the morning, and I already need a beer. :P

  26. My distraction level is high, but so is my writing output. In 2004 I basically took the two months before the election off to work at getting Kerry elected. This time I’ve had several writing deadlines in there so I’ve been appealing to my inner control freak by pointing out that in my fiction I can exert full control over what happens to the world whereas in real life I’m in a much weaker position. I’ve been doing the fivethirtyeight feeder bar thing too, but only between writing blocks as opposed to instead of them.

  27. Having a job with a boss does not help. Every spare moment we have we are looking at election stuff online. We even figured out how to get live streaming video of the debates, and had one person watch them, to give the rest of us a shout whenever either of the candidates said something interesting sp we could all converge on that computer.

    Tomorrow night very little work will be done as the projections and results come in. We will probably have a spotter again, to watch the internet all night as the rest of us try to get a bit of work done.

  28. “Because I gotta tell you, I have it so much more worse this year.”

    AMEN to that, John. I’m exhausted and worrying my head off over tomorrow night’s results. Though I plan to either celebrate, or commiserate with my fellow Democrats at an after-party once the polls here in Southern Nevada close.

  29. Mklishis@32: Did you get it? :P

    I’m still really surprised that you don’t have a public holiday on election day. It seems counter-intuitive, particularly when a major problem in American politics seems to be actually getting people out to vote.

  30. Not that much worse this time, but more visible. Last time (and in 2000), I had a mailing list. This time, I have a blog — and I’m checking it every day to see how many of my “friends” have gotten sick of my political harping and bailed. (None yet! Am boggled at this.)

    Last time, I was (non-clinically) depressed for six months and gained 15 pounds eating almost exclusively oatmeal cookies with peanut butter. Fingers crossed for tummy flatness this time…

  31. Oh, it’s much worse. Much worse. This year I can actually vote, so I actually have a legitimate reason to be obsessed.
    But it’s bad… I’ve been reading blogs obsessively, checking polls like a madman, and not doing my homework.
    Every night when I sit in front of the TV watching my show-of-the-day, the ads make me crazy!!! I’m so sick of the lies and the fear-mongering!!!

  32. Much less distracted by it all this year. 2000 and 2004 were obsessive junkie overdrive distraction events. This year seemed like a foregone conclusion months and months ago.

  33. It is so much worse. Partly because the last election I was in school and had to focus on not failing tests and stuff. Now I just sit in front of a computer all day (sure, I should be working, but I’m not) with access to political websites.

    I absolutely wish Tuesday was a holiday. Maybe Wednesday. I’m absolutely paranoid that my line at the polls will be crazy long and I’ll be so late to work that it would make more sense not to come in at all.

  34. If Nate Silver has a compassionate bone in his body, he’ll establish a twelve-step group for FiveThirtyEight.com’ers.
    And I’ll be happy to be the first speaker: “Hi, I’m Bob, and I haven’t checked on the Senate race in Minnesota for eight hours…”

  35. Since my politics have changed so much since 9/11/2001 it’s tough to say how much I have cared about this election, since the elections of the past.

    I will say I was a VERY enthused Perot voter, it being my first time and all, and me thinking Perot actually had a shot. My Dad and I both voted Perot that year, which would be the last time he and I coincided before the 2004 election, when we both voted Bush.

    I can absolutely say that I’ve become an internet politics junky since the early part of 2002. Thousands of hours, wasted. I wish I had them back. But dammit, arguing politics with faceless people I don’t know, at high volume, all across the internet, it’s like meth! Give me more!

    However, I’m about done with the crazy box. My enthusiasm for this cycle has been going downhill since 2006, and I’m ready to get my time and my energy and my mind back. I have no doubt the 24/7 political carousel will continue, post-Obama success. In fact, it’ll ramp into extra extra high gear (it has only been on extra high gear until now) but I’m not sure how much I’ll feel like paying attention.

    Destroying a President before he’s had one day in office is not my thing, and I do not doubt that the moment the results are final, there will be a great many people working to destroy Obama, and this strikes me as partisanship at its worst. Give the guy a chance. I won’t be voting for him, but I tend to lose most of these things anyway. I think I’ve only ever picked the winner twice, and that was on the second term?

  36. Way worse this year. I’m signing up to take the day off on November 5 to decompress. If it weren’t bigoted, I suppose I’d burn a Guy just to blow off steam.

  37. I’ve been horribly distracted with the election this year–far, far worse than I ever have been. It just feels like there’s so much more at stake this time.

    I fret that if Obama doesn’t win, my distraction won’t end. :P

  38. Reading about human and horse anatomy (and picking up some instructional material for watercolor) is helping me keep my mind off it just fine.

    I’ll go, vote, and be done with it all tomorrow.

    Unless I should do it today. Saturday there were hour-long lines, and I really don’t want to stand in a line that’s an hour long in -7 C weather.

    My vote is unlikely to change things nationally; Alaska is generally very red, no matter what. But there are other things worth voting for this time around, apart from the presidential elections.

  39. Last election, I thought *surely* Bush must lose. Election day fell on our anniversary that year, so we voted early and went up to Fredericton (Canada) to celebrate. I can still remember the feeling of Absolute Disbelief when we turned on the radio the next morning and learned the results.

    “I’m staying,” I told my husband.

    He talked me out of it, though, golden-tongue that he is.

    This year, like Tamara, I’m frightened about the outcome. Not, yanno, that obsessively perusing the polls and news feeds is going to change a dern thing, and I *know* that, but do I stop?

    Sigh. I just hope my stomach lining holds out until Wednesday.

  40. I am planning a long and late work day today because I know there’s not a chance in hell I’ll get a shred of real work done tomorrow, and I have a deadline Wednesday (a smallish one, thankfully).

    So. Very. Distracted. And suddenly, as of the past week or so, very anxious. So much so that even if The Other Guy ends up taking it it will be something of a relief just to have this whole thing over. (At which point I will begin fervent, daily prayers for his continued health.)

  41. And here I was wondering how you could be so cool-headed about this election, because your distraction was not obvious to this longtime reader.

    What’s funny is that I remember thinking once or twice, “man I just need to chill out, like Scalzi does. He stops reading political blogs this time of year, and I should do the same to protect my sanity.” But… well, I guess you know how that went.

    So anyway, yeah, this election has been pretty much all-consuming for whatever attention isn’t demanded by work or family, and even some that is. I’ll be soooo glad when it is over.

  42. I voted two weeks ago, but ever since I have had a looming feeling of doom. I have nightmares that Palin will be a heartbeat away from the Presidency and that she will reach across the ocean to take away my religious and corporeal freedoms, burn my books, and force my children to bear unwanted children. My stress level is higher than it has ever been and it is not helped that Europeans think it amazing that there could be a question and also feel that Americans may be incapable of not being racists (an even more cognitively dissonant feeling as most Europeans I know are indeed flagrant racists themselves).
    Only 1 1/2 more days, and we will be watching the polls come in overnight. I’m praying that by 5 am on Wednesday morning the long nightmare will be behind us.

  43. Hmm… I wonder why I’m showing up as mklishis. That’s weird.

    I actually realized yesterday there is a very good reason why election day isn’t a federal holiday, although it’s perfectly reasonable for it to be a state holiday.


    Someone has to make sure all the mail-in-ballots are received so they can be counted. So they can’t have the day off. And I’m not sure we can afford to pay the overtime just so other federal employees can have the day off.

    And then there are the bus drivers etc who need to work to get people to the polls.

    And to be honest, the individuals who really need the time off–minimum wage workers, wouldn’t get the day off anyway. I mean, there are places that won’t even close for Thanskgiving. They certainly aren’t going to give their employees an extra day off–especially when state employees have the day off.

    Which is why I’m glad WV has no excuse voting. It allows people to vote early if they’re working or whatever on election day.

    Now let’s see how my name appears…

    –Random Michelle K

  44. As a Canadian, I’ll be looking forward to not having to watch political ads about those two senators from Alabama, or werever, bad mouthing each other every time I try to watch the new episode of House.

    Seriously, I don’t care if she never went to Harvard. Shut up.

  45. This has the (un)fortunate status of being my first election that I’m old enough to vote. I’m hoping it doesn’t determine my level of obsession for the next, oh, fifteen or more that I expect to be around for.

    I still want to vomit. Are political ads radioactive?

  46. As part of your loyal Alaska contingent (Hi Jim, Hi Scott)
    Gosh, I can’t think of any reason why we’d be obsessed with the election.

    Ted Stevens – guilty on all seven counts, but still running
    Gov Palin – oh, some folks may have heard about her
    Don Young – still under investigation, $$$$ in lawyer fees

    And various other items of interest. I’m so very glad I voted back on the 24th.

  47. Boy howdy, me too. This election has eaten me up and spit me out. I’ll be glad when it’s over. I hope our guy wins (go Obama!), but either way, the election phase will be done with.

  48. #15 Tamara – “This is the first time I have actually been scared about the outcome of an election.”

    Honey, weren’t you paying attention in 2000 & 2004?

    I am so anxious that I haven’t been sleeping well. I hope fervently for Obama’s victory, and pray even more so that his secret service people are filled with awesome and keep him alive. The death threats have already begun, and I’m sure there will be more in the Henry II vein – “Will no-one rid me (us) of this man?”

    The foamy guys on the radio and TV scare me in ways I hesitate to say. Gingrich, Rove (and their ilk) have LOTS to answer for. This country has been divided into ‘US’ -vs- ‘THEM’ by their vilification of anyone who doesn’t agree with them. You’re either a traitor, terrorist or hate the U.S. – pick one, two or all three – if you deign to disagree.

  49. It’s been fiendishly addictive for me, because for the first Presidential election in 32 years, I haven’t been a federal employee and I actually get to get involved. I’ve done canvassing and took part in a march from the Obama headquarters in Troy down to the courthouse to vote on the first day of early voting. But I’m going to really, really miss fivethirtyeight. The sheer beauty of geekish numbers and trends (I especially love the starbucks/walmart ratio) will be SOOO hard to leave behind the the post election world.

  50. Fortunately fivethirtyeight.com tells me that zombie Reagan is polling poorly, and I’m very relieved to see that Obama seems to be winning by a wide margin. The American populace is happily proving itself smarter than my fears.

    So, if the candidate you like is winning, the population is somehow smarter than it is if the candidate you don’t like is winning. The population is what it is. I don’t see the populace as being any smarter or dumber than it was in the previous election cycles, but I think you just meant to say that anyone that doesn’t vote the way you think they should is stupid.

  51. This country has been divided into ‘US’ -vs- ‘THEM’ by their vilification of anyone who doesn’t agree with them. You’re either a traitor, terrorist or hate the U.S. – pick one, two or all three – if you deign to disagree.

    Sorry, but this has been the case for many elections. The idea that people were somehow nicer in the past in regards to politics is just a myth. Look at some of the 19th century elections and rhetoric if you want to see some real meanspiritedness.

  52. Shane @21

    You’re assuming you will still have elections if Obama loses…

    Yeah, well, I think we’ll probably be able to weather at least four years of Obama if it comes to that.

    I just need to buy one more gun before Jan 20th. I’m thinking I’ll need a fullsize 1911 in .45.

    With luck, I’ll be able to buy ammo, legally, before 2012.

    To no one in particular.

    I’ve been a political junkie most of my life. And I have lost count as to how many of them were considered “the most important ever.” Look, we survived Carter. We can pretty much survive anything.

    We even recovered from FDRs disastrous economic policies. Eventually.

    We’ll get through this no matter who wins.

    And I think that if there really is a new awakening politically, that’s a good thing.

    Just remember that each election does not have to be a stomach turner. Just do your best to be informed, vote on the information you have, and rest assured that you will have done your part to keep America the greatest nation on Earth.

  53. Spontaneous Derivation, “Exploring Science Fiction and Fantasy with Kindle in Hand”, switched over to politics about 24/7 about an hour after the final presidential debate. I didn’t want to at first, but the pressure was inexorable after that point, and so I gave up and just went with it.

    Mind you, I tried to keep things fun. “Video Highlights of Election ’08” has more funny videos than not; I think it’ll end up with maybe two non-funny videos in it, and by non-funny, I mean they have hope. Any tear down of the opposing campaign I left to Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, David Letterman, The Young Turks, Elon James White, and random YouTubers with obviously too much time on their hands.

    Also, I did quite a few Pundit Kitchen (LOLpolitics, LOLnews) collective posts, usually themed, and ended up doing some myself (I am still proud of VAMPIRES, which got sidelighted a couple weeks ago at Making Light).

    Early this morning I endorsed Obama. I will be adding a couple more funny video posts below it.

  54. I’ve always been a political junkie, but man, a Presidential election year without commentary from Tim Russert and Hunter S. Thompson just ain’t the same.

    Yes, I agree, they were very different in their approaches, but very talented all the same.

  55. I don’t that ‘distracted’ is the best word. Frantic? Desperate? Ulcer-ridden? Something more along those lines, anyway.

    This is the first time I’ve wanted to vote FOR a candidate; before it’s always been more of a ‘least of two evils’ or ‘voting against’ situation. And it matters SO MUCH that we don’t, collectively, screw this one up.

    I want it to be over, and in such a way that I can stop chuggin’ the antacids right out of the bottle.

  56. I look forward to normal conversations. About writing, or philosophy, or what have you. Things that are more timeless and less in-the-moment (and in-your-face) than this election has been.

  57. We even recovered from FDRs disastrous economic policies. Eventually.

    It takes a lot to make Vox look reasonable by comparison, but that did it.

    (I was going to say Sub Odeon, but #62 intervened)

  58. My distraction has been far less this year — in 2004, my own marriage was on the chopping block at the polls.

    This year, I’m far less distracted, mostly because I haven’t had the courage to hope very hard. Still running scared after the disaster that was 2004…

  59. If Obama wins, it will be the first time I’ve been able to vote on a Presidential race and picked a winner. (Yes, I voted for Bob Dole. Remember when I said I was enrolled in Young Republicans by my mother. Of course my first Presidential vote was for Republican. It took a few years for the scales to fall from my eyes.)

    I’m not worried that Obama will f— anything up, but I DO worry that he’s got a huge task ahead of him if’n he does get elected. A task I wouldn’t envy anyone.

    My brain really really really really really really can’t conceive of McCain winning. I tried, and the words “system error” started flashing across my vision.

    But then I thought this way back in the Kerry-Bush election. :(

  60. Somewhat akin to having an ECM pod hammered into each ear whilst sitting on a disturbed anthill beneath an air-raid siren whilst hordes of people scream at me.

    Frankly, I think my frontal lobes are more than a little chafed. I’ve tried thrice to actively ignore the goings-on, and each time I’ve buckled in about three days simply because nothing that’s a source of new information seems to be free of it.

    I’m really looking forward to this being done with.

  61. It won’t end on the 5th.

    It will never end.

    Don’t you see, people, that the 24 hour news cycle is what Lovecraft wrote about? It is the eldritch horror that consumes the mind and devours the soul, the ever-hungering beast from beyond the frail geometries of our realm, slavering forth with its fanged Hydra heads, its many cameras the unblinking beastial eyes that peer into the very core of our being, a terror from the depths of Time and Space, here to enslave humanity, to suck us down and down into the black void of Perdition, to turn us all into gibbering morons…

    Jesus on a bicycle, I am so done with this election bullshit.

  62. Adam Rakunas @68:

    PREACH. IT. I seriously think it would be really helpful for there to be a mandated total blackout on election results from Election Day through the immediately following Friday. That way, there’s no rush to get the votes counted, and we can go back to bipartisan multiple hand-counts of paper ballots (i.e., at least one Republican and at least one Democrat counts every vote, and you keep repeating the process until all counts agree within a tight margin of error). This would allow us to avoid (1) the dangerous practice of the media calling states before the polls even close, (2) endless back and forth about tampering with voting machines, and (3) long, strung-out series of counts, recounts, manual recounts, and philosophical diatribes on the hermeneutics of chad-reading.

    We seriously need to grow some patience in this country. Instant gratification on election results? DO. NOT. WANT.

  63. > How’s your level of election distraction been this time around?

    Ugh. I think I’m going to vomit.

  64. My distraction level is lower this year than in 2004 because, mainly, this year I actually have a f–king job whereas four years ago I had exhausted my UI a year before STILL WASN’T EMPLOYED and so I kind of had a lot of time for politics because ramen doesn’t take long to cook.

    Also because I’m not allowed to do politics at work since I’m an Evil Government Bureaucrat (Acting Capacity).

  65. I think you and Hollywood Elsewhere are about all the regular election coverage I’ve been getting. Wil, occasionally.

    Man, it’s been GREAT not having a TV*. Totally worth missing Mythbusters.

    *: I’ve got one (and an EyeTV), but I don’t have cable, so I haven’t plugged it in.

  66. I honestly don’t know how anyone who actually has a job (including my husband) can manage. My entire life right now is the election and my two dogs – and my dogs are well known at Democratic HQ here, and featured on Barkers for Barack buttons.

    My husband is begging me to find a damn job already – AFTER the election.

  67. I’m getting work done at my job, and getting the family fed, kids off to school in the morning and to bed at night… but I have no idea how this is happening. As far as conscious memory of the day goes, it feels like I’ve been checking Fivethirtyeight.com every five minutes to make sure the odds haven’t changed.

    BTW, for those who are still obsessing, Jim Macdonald at Making Light has scooped CNN to the first election results from Dixville Notch, NH: Obama/Biden 15, McCain/Palin 6, Barr/Root 0, Nader/Gonzales 0.

  68. I’ll just be happy when the damn thing’s over with.
    Mainly because I’ve noticed that apart from how much I’m taxed, there’s really nothing…and I mean _zero_ significance to who the president is as to how I live my life. Democrat, Republican, whatever, I’ll still be doing the same thing, in the same way.
    It’s something I always wonder about the people who get into a real furor about elections– really, if the vote had gone the other way, would your life have been so different?

  69. Cicada:


    People who think it doesn’t matter who is president of the United States clearly have no concept of what the Executive branch of the US government does.

  70. Scalzi: Meaning no rudeness, but can you give me examples of significant differences? Would you have sold fewer or more books, enjoyed more or less time with your family, had more or less time with friends? Would your favored hobbies been less fun or more?
    What has a Bush presidency stopped you from doing that a Kerry one would have allowed, or vice versa?
    We could argue abstractions, but when it comes to your life, personally, what do you try to do between your waking hour and your sleeping one that these people interfere with?

  71. Cicada:

    You strike me as one of those people who believes that as long as his house is standing, it doesn’t matter that all his neighbor’s houses are burning.

    New Orleans is not an abstraction. Abu Ghraib is not an abstraction. The stock market and the credit collapse are not abstractions. The US government listening on American citizens’ phone calls without a warrant is not an abstraction. Supreme Court picks and court appointments are not abstractions. I could go on, but I assume you understand where I am going with this — that these are events directly affected by the choices our president has made.

    Your day to day life is not changed by who is president. Good for you. But this only means that you don’t live somewhere where you could have needed the emergency response of the government. It only means you aren’t in the military, or have a family member who is. It only means you’re not on the verge of retiring and now have to worry about your retirement investments.

    The fact your day to day life is not changed doesn’t mean the choice of president is not significant. It only means you have been lucky enough not to be affected by the choices the president makes. It’s not the same thing, and not everyone is that lucky.

    Saying none of this matters because you don’t see an obvious effect on how you live your life on a daily basis is short-sighted to the point of willful ignorance. I think that’s a bad way to live. I don’t live that way.

  72. After catching up on the “I’m not going to read Scalzi’s books because he’s a liberal” idiocy going on in the Obama endorsement thread, I’ll add that I look forward to the election ending so I can read this blog without thinking too hard about politics.

    I started reading the blog when John won the Hugo, and while the political coverage has been interesting and sometimes funny (and John, you’re one of the most even-handed moderators I’ve seen), I think it will be nice to see more of the guy in the devil mask who posted about his wife’s cojones. (That rang true. My wife’s blog is filled with things that I’d hate for anyone to read about me except that they’re Just That Funny.) And it will be really nice not to see idiots complain that a sci-fi writer has a different set of political ideas than they do.

  73. @#68:
    This isn’t the first time someone in one of the recent threads has denounced FDR’s New Deal as a disaster that set your country on the road towards that horror of horrors, socialism.

    Regardless of what you idiots – and I use the term with full awareness of the etymology – would like to think, the historical facts are that FDR started out with a country in the middle of the single biggest economic collapse in its history, and managed to turn that economy around to the point where it was able to fight the second World War and win.

    Proof, pudding.

  74. > What has a Bush presidency stopped you from doing
    > that a Kerry one would have allowed, or vice versa?

    I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?

  75. Rens @81, you’re giving us the party line on FDR and the New Deal. I have seen people make a very good case that the New Deal prolonged the Depression, and that the industrial expansion required by WWII pulled us out of it. If they’re right, then you have cause and effect backwards.

    You will, of course, say that they’re wrong. :)

    Personally, I don’t know; I see good arguments and I wonder. At any rate, I don’t think that the people who disparage the New Deal are idiots, even if it turns out that they’re misguided.

    If nothing else, an Obama win may be interesting if it shows us (for a second time) the effects of quasi-socialist government on a mostly capitalist country that’s in a recession.

  76. Jake@83, all the idiots so far – and I stand by the term – seem to insist on the republican party line that FDR, being a democrat and a socialist, can’t possibly have done anything good for the economy and it had to have been entirely due to luck.

    With that in mind, and remembering that the same people who say the New Deal was a horrible idea are the ones who insisted on the deregulation and complete removal of oversight that’s caused the current economic crisis, you may want to re-evaluate the credibility of either side.

  77. Rens@84, I don’t see Jake@83 saying that FDR did nothing good for the country. Myself, I believe The New Deal has been oversold as some kind of super-cure for your country’s economic woes. After all, if it had been so great, how come the greatest economic expansion your country ever saw was during times of greater not lesser regulation and taxation, while the greatest localized depression (the creation of ‘the rust belt’) have been under socialistic policies? How come your country has been more successful, overall, when the people making the money were given the freer hand, with government only intervening to making sure all the children are playing nice — ie, ensuring that no company holds an innovation killing monopoly?

    I’m not arguing that FDR’s New Deal was all bad, but that without examining it closely, it’s similar to saying you want to be just like so-and-so celebrity because they’re popular. And short of being an economist capable of making a coherent argument about cause and effect, I doubt you can convince me that you know any better than me in this.

    For the record: I’m a 1st gen Canadian who grew up with a behind-the-scenes history of Polish communism, as my father was in the state-run media and got to see much of what was going on before it ever hit the editing room floor and was turned into acceptable propaganda. Anything that smacks of international communism, and yes, that includes modern Western Socialism, which was shaped early on by the NKVD and other Soviet intelligence operations, is suspect to me.

  78. Rens,

    Well, what Scrit said, for the most part.

    “FDR, being a democrat and a socialist, can’t possibly have done anything good for the economy and it had to have been entirely due to luck.”

    You might mean what I mean, but you’re not saying it the way I’m saying it. The argument isn’t that he “can’t possibly” have done good things, it’s that socialistic policies aren’t good for an economy. He did things — no hypothetical “can’t possibly have done” here — and those things helped certain individual situations but reduced the overall economy’s natural ability to outgrow a depression. Or so the argument goes.

    And I wouldn’t call a World War “luck”. When you’re trying to take a historical perspective, then yes, you attribute certain effects to certain causes, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say that FDR got lucky because of the war.

    So when we remove the emotional language, we see a true-or-false question: “Did the New Deal help the American economy?” I’ve heard the arguments that say “no”, and they’re fairly compelling. Which leads to your last point…

    With that in mind, and remembering that the same people who say the New Deal was a horrible idea are the ones who insisted on the deregulation and complete removal of oversight that’s caused the current economic crisis, you may want to re-evaluate the credibility of either side.

    As I understand it, we’re having a crisis for (at least) two reasons: 1) The mortgage industry picked up a lot of higher-risk mortgages after they were incented to by the government, and 2) financial institutions started using instruments based on those mortgages without fully understanding the risks involved. Everything else follows from that.

    If that’s the case, then there are alternate scenarios in which changes in government intervention could have prevented this crisis. First, if we had eliminated government intervention by eliminating cause 1, and second, if the government had understood the credit-backed financial instruments better than the investors had. Unless you have a strong feeling that scenario 2 would have played out, which I don’t, it makes sense to wish that we had been smart enough not to have so much government interference in the first place.

    Some people have argued that the high-risk loans outperformed the low-risk loans, and I confess that I haven’t read the 80+ page document that proves their case. It does turn the terms “high-risk” and “low-risk” on their heads, however.

    Go ahead. I’m willing to be educated, and I know you want to say it. What am I missing?

  79. @Scalzi- You are making the assumption there that these things are significant. No matter who the president is, you will likely eventually watch the majority of people you know suffer and eventually die. Failing that, you will do so first. You’re just quibbling about the timing of it.
    Without going all Buddhist here, suffering isn’t a solvable problem– it’s better to detach yourself from it entirely rather than try to fix it.

  80. I took refuge in NaNoWriMo

    I’ve done 15400 words

    Lots of dead Nazis.

    The hero hanging from a carriage door on an express train from Harwich.

    More dead Nazis.

    A mad wife.

    It scares me how little fact-checking I’m having to do.

  81. Jake @86

    I could quibble about the first part of the problem. as you describe it. There’s some evidence that the dodgy mortgage lending was not dominated by the people, disadvantaged by race, etc., which the law usually blamed was mean’t to help.

    The second part of your problem is the biggie. It’s the climax of a long-running pattern of behaviour in the financial markets. There have been minor crises arising from derivatives markets, and badly-judged risks, for more than twenty years, since the days of Thatcher and Reagan.

    It may be coincidence, but this has all coincided with a steady reduction of regulation, and a vast increase on the speed with which money flows through the markets. And we’re being told that in the latest mess, the banks don’t even know who owns what, and the Ratings Agencies have been handing out multiple-A ratings so profligately that they are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

    Don’t get me wrong–I’ve seen plenty of stupid, divorced-from-reality, government regulation–regulations aren’t an automatic salvation. But, looking at the lunacy in The City and on Wall Street, and all the other places where bankers congregate, somebody needs to do the moneychangers-in-the-temple routine, and it’s a choice between government regulation and bloody revolution.

    I’m told that rope futures are tightening.

  82. Okay, and thanks, but it’s easy to look backwards. The question is, would government regulators have understood the risks etc. before the fact and more than the investors, and thus implemented regulations that would have prevented this crisis?

  83. My internet at the house dying six weeks ago, has been a blessing. I get out more, and I have less time on the net.

    And it was better this time, because I didn’t think McCain was going to win, and I didn’t even think it was close enough for him/them to manage to cheat.

    I worried about it some, but not the way I did last time.

  84. @Freivald– I do believe they did, actually. The problem is that reducing those risks came with costs of its own. You can limit the amount of leverage that firms can use…but that also limits the profits those firms generate and perhaps the amount of growth of the economy as a whole due to tighter money supply.
    No one is ever going to go on TV and say “We have successfully limited the rate of growth of your pension fund.”

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