Ruminations on the election. 

Limbo at the Polls

The Day Everybody Won
Last Wednesday, the day after the election, was one of those weird, in-between days we sometimes get around here in the fall: not exactly clear, not exactly cloudy, the light diffused and indistinct. It was a day holding its breath. That was appropriate, of course, because with neither major-party presidential candidate the undisputed winner, everybody was having one of those in-between days. The election, which was supposed to at least settle who had won the presidency, still wasn't over. In days to come, people would start getting snippy about it. But on that day a strange euphoria seemed to drift over the city. It felt like a snow day, when the rules are suspended and everybody stays home and waves at people going by on sleds. In its presidential limbo, the city had somehow reached the state of perfect equilibrium sought by marital counselors, arbitrators and Special Olympics coaches: At least for a day or so, everybody could be a winner. "We're very, very excited and very happy," Ed Matricardi, the executive director of the state Republican Party, exulted from his downtown headquarters. "We came through for George W. Bush in Virginia … And George Allen's win is the first time an incumbent senator has been unseated in 28 years in Virginia." Craig Bieber, Matricardi's Democratic counterpart, was almost as upbeat. "When I went to bed [election night], I was wailing and gnashing my teeth," he said. "But when I woke up, Gore was back in the game." Who won? Simple, Bieber said: "Gore should be the winner because he got the most votes." Besides, he added darkly, "We keep hearing reports of all these balloting irregularities in Florida." Things were so off-kilter that even the Green Party, with about 2 percent of the vote, could declare itself successful. True, it hadn't hit its 5 percent benchmark. But, noted Tom Unzicker, the party's state coordinator, in the Oregon Hill voting precinct Ralph Nader tied with George W. Bush for second place, with 83 votes - 22 percent. Not bad. And the answering-machine message at the Green Party's volunteer Richmond headquarters was downright chipper. "Ralph Nader won 2 million votes in yesterday's election," a woman's recorded voice told callers. "That's a great victory for us!" Meanwhile, at the midtown YMCA the two retirees who for years have kept up a running argument about President Clinton realized that they could keep it going a little longer. So they did. — Greg Weatherford Dead Men Running
This tiresome, lengthy election season has had some strange twists - not the least of these is the election of the late Mel Carnahan to the U.S. Senate from Missouri. Carnahan beat a living Republican on the strength of the governor's promise that he would appoint Carnahan's widow to fill the seat. A reader has suggested that this presents a wonderful opportunity to other states - especially those in which a party has been beaten and is smarting from the loss. Take Virginia: The Democrats have been sadly disappointed by George Allen's defeat of Chuck Robb on Nov. 7. But they can take heart. Here's the idea: Why not begin immediately to gather signatures to put Bill Spong on the ticket next time? While Spong died in 1997, his candidacy would have the added value of trying in a small way to show that the voters are sorry that, in 1972, they turned out one of best Virginia congressional representatives ever. If a Spong candidacy doesn't grab you, how about running Robert E. Lee, who died in 1870? Who could refuse to sign a petition for his candidacy, or who in Virginia would dare vote against him? (Well, actually, we can name some who would. Sa'ad El-Amin, for one.) But there's one problem. Who would our next governor appoint when Lee or Spong won? Maybe we'd better stick with who we've got. And, come to think of it, who will be our next governor? — Rozanne Epps Ode to a Campaign Season Past
The end began with Daylight Savings.
The sun set sooner, nights came fast.
Winter sheepishly tested its approach.
Our campaign season would soon be over.
Oh heart, do not ache.
The days were long and good.
I could live on just 1 percent. Such a sweet percent at the top.
And those things you would teach me in a reformed system. I would learn.
Those funny little words. You silly goose. You misspoke for me.
Your mysterious past.
I cling to the memories. I put them in a lockbox.
I thought it would last when we met long ago.
It seemed the end would never come. Love eternal.
Remember the flirting?
The debates, all three.
Every commercial, those seconds so precious.
Every hyperbole. So right, so true.
Each delicious sound bite, again and again.
The issues. Yes, it was the issues that I loved about you.
And my, how you loved the issues, too.
Our bond was tested. Blurry, fuzzy love.
Polls rose and polls fell.
You said you were sorry. You promised me the world.
You tried to make it better. The sighs. The kisses. The gravitas.
Remember when you looked into my eyes, so blankly, like a beautiful deer?
You'll fight for me, you said.
You asked, Was I with you?
You said you trusted me. You'd leave it up to me.
But you lied. It's not up to me.
The thrill of the unknown can never last.
Let it be over.
Just go. — Jason Roop

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