A few hours ago, President Barack Obama clinched the Presidency after being declared the projected winner of Ohio, an important swing state that was challenger Mitt Romney's last hope of victory. And while the Obama supporters in Chicago danced around and rejoiced and the Romney supporters cupped their hands over their mouths and shook their heads at their giant screens, my suitemates and I sat watching our smaller screen, quoting pro-Obama slogans at one another and telling all who would listen that the result was obvious from the start.
This year was the first presidental election I could legally take part in, and the stars seemed to be aligned for me to get out to vote, thanks to my convienient location here at C of I. I was able to register early thanks to our Young Democrats Club, ironically enough located in McCain Center. I was able to hear and take part in animated discussions involving each candidate's policies with professors, friends and random passersby on the Quad. The polls themselves were open on this very campus, and Election Day was held on a day where I only had one class and very little homework to worry about. I marked my ballot shortly after the polls opened and was awarded with the coveted "I Voted" sticker, which everyone who voted on campus wore as a badge of honor.
I wasn't sure what I was expecting Election Day to be like among the other students. While I anticipated it would be a topic of interest, I believed that many would be cynical about the political process. I've heard enough negativity about the use of voting for anyone but a Republican candidate in Idaho to figure that many of the Democratic leaning students wouldn't bother turning up at the polls. So I was surprised when even the most vocally apprehensive voters took their civic duty so seriously, often badgering people that hadn't yet voted or posting political photos on Facebook to encourage their friends to rock the vote. Discussion of the election turned up in almost every serious conversation I had with people today, and to my delight most of those discussions were informed and well structured. Few political conversations I had in high school during the 2008 election compared to the level of personal stake and genuine interest I felt here at C of I.
As the polls began closing and the votes started being counted across the country, a handful of my suitemates and I planted ourselves in front of our television to watch the election unfold. I had done this ritual before with my family in the previous election year, but the general atmosphere as we all watched was so much different than it was in 2008. For one thing, none of us were capable of going more than 30 seconds without cracking some sort of joke about the election coverage. No topic was sacred, from Chuck Todd and his antics with the fancy NBC board to the graphics used when legalization of marijuana was discussed. That would never have flown for very long at my house in Meridian--my mother either would have told me to shush or I would have been talking to myself the entire evening. Now I had a bunch of friends to bounce jokes and ideas off of, which was nice.
For another thing, all of us were pumped to be represented on the local news by none other than our own Jasper LiCalzi, who was doing commentary on the proposed educational ammendments on Fox. We were unified in wanting to support him, and probably all secretly hoping he would do or say something hilarious like he's known for in his classes. This unified us to the point where his appearance on the TV was one of the only things that got us to collectively shut our mouths for a bit.
Also, during the course of the evening, we had several other Andersonians pop in and out to catch coverage before returning to other tasks. Our suite was a fun little election station, and quite a few interested parties stopped by for a bit and gave their own witty commentary before leaving. It strikes me that this has become totally normal for me in the past few weeks of just hanging out in our suite--I've grown accustomed to new faces appearing from across the hall for short chats. It also strikes me that the election was truly a full campus event--everyone at some point in the evening living on campus probably stopped by a television for a few minutes to gather and talk about what was going on. We have the sort of community at C of I where this sort of thing is encouraged and looked forward to. I doubt that other schools can say the same.
I'm glad to have participated in the political process, and I count myself lucky to have shared it with the rest of C of I. Do you smell what the Barack is cookin'?
Clayton is a sophomore creative writing major from Meridian, Idaho.