The nation’s midterm elections effectively dominated all that was our lives for the majority of the summer and fall. Here in Baltimore, with a highly competitive gubernatorial race taking place, as well as feisty newcomers challenging many of the more familiar faces in government, candidates
and constituents alike were often placed uncomfortably close with one another. With all of the radio advertisements, television commercials, and print media that those seeking office employed as a device on the road to representation, no one in Charm City was spared from one of the least charming aspects of the campaign system.
As a self-proclaimed “informed voter,” and as someone who has done a considerable amount of campaign work, I have experienced both sides of what is really just an awkward and prolonged speed-dating session of sorts. Like speed-dating, both parties have really good intentions on the surface and that’s great. Also like speed-dating (from what I’ve heard…) both parties have some things that they would rather keep hidden for a couple of dates. Voter or campaigner, both sides hope that they can make each other happy long enough to reach the climax that they’ve been desperately waiting for. Whether it takes O’Malley or Obama to get those political juices flowing, the hope is that you didn’t have regrets on the walk of shame following ten minutes of passion exercised in a sweaty voting booth just down the hall from the place where you ironically had your first kiss. Who would have thought that democracy would bring you back into Edmondson High School prior to the ten year reunion?
For those of you who enjoyed these dates with various Baltimore politicians and were able to make up your minds as to who you would vote for, congratulations on finding love, or some combination of the two. I wish you all happiness ‘til term limit or scandal do you part. As for the rest of you who felt betrayed or deceived by the entire process, maybe it is time to look deep within and search for the reasons that you want more, but still do not know what more is or ever was for that matter. Though this process of choosing a candidate to represent you can be painful, it, like dating, does not always fall on the other party when you are not satisfied. After someone has pulled out all of the stops, answered all sorts of imposing questions, spent countless money, and fought for your love … rather, vote, and still you feel no spark from any of your suitors and are less inclined to participate in the political process, you should kindly sit alone in your outdated living room and not be upset when government is not doing what it is supposed to do. And for those, who sit home, while attractive and intelligent 20-somethings with a knack for policy and a great sense of humor come to their door or call their homes to engage them after that first date, pay a little more attention and try not to feel like it is okay to be completely ambivalent to politics.
Do not send your seven-year-old to the door in an attempt to throw campaign volunteers off of their game or yell from an upstairs window with a forced cough that would not even qualify for best acting at a Teen People award show. Refrain from hanging up in the faces of those on the other end of the phone line or what’s worse, changing your voice after answering the phone in a different one for the sake of, “She’s not in, may I take a message?” And to, how about a random name like, Ms. Jenkins on Fulton Street, do not yell at the nice young fellow on the other side of the phone about the lateness of the hour when it is just after 5pm and Wheel of Fortune has yet to come on. Regardless of age, orientation, or affiliation, I firmly believe that there is a politician out there for everyone. If 2010 was a rough year for you, do not give up because there really are some good ones in the game. Trust me. As shown by a low voter turnout here in the city during these midterm elections, despite days of early voting at locations around the city, there are still too many people unwilling to mix and mingle with the candidates. Go on, give it a shot. This is the key for a better Baltimore, a better Maryland, and a better nation. Vote!