I voted for Kerry in the next election. I knew he was a lousy politician, not by his platform or his ethics (which could have been lousy, but I have no proof) but by the fact he perhaps had a dollop more charisma than Gore, but not enough to be worth anything. This guy wasn't going to have any pull at the polls and it worried me he wouldn't have any pull as president. My vote was entirely a vote against Bush, again wasted in a state that had become staunchly red in my lifetime. I had no delusions of Kerry as a savior or even anything more than just another big-time politician. I pulled the lever because he was the only realistic option.
The last time I felt anything resembling passion for a politician was back in my youth. When I was 12, Ross Perot made his first run for president and impressed me. I was just starting to grow out of my Republican Limbaugh-loving childhood (I was a weird kid) and this guy really impressed me. Actually, if you go back to his campaign and withhold the humor of the short guy with the big ears pulling out the charts, you'll realize that he wasn't really a joke. That guy was better prepared and more practical in his approach than any politician before or since. You knew exactly what you were getting with him and you knew that while Dana Carvey would be mocking him anyway, that he would have made a highly competent leader. In fact my enthusiasm for the guy was so great that I even managed to convince my parents to vote for the guy. Not too shabby for a kid in middle school.
It wasn't long after that I realized that there's no such thing as a good politician at that level. The obstacle course of elections and backroom dealings they have to go through to get there weeds out anyone who isn't so obsessively competitive and desirous of power that they're willing to bend or break the rules. This often extends into their personal life, which explains why politicians seem to have more personal scandals than people I personally know. They're used to be powerful and getting what they want and it corrupts them. I've never been fooled since and I have always voted with the knowledge that the guy I agreed with more was still probably a complete tool. That doesn't exactly lead to enthusiastic voting. In fact, I've skipped voting for most elections since I turned 18 ten years ago. It just didn't matter.
This time is different. Despite my active attempts to prevent it, I keep getting excited about Barack Obama. I'm fully aware that part of it is his charisma. I could feel his pull the very first time I saw him speak while at work at the newspaper with CNN on mute while he spoke at the Democratic National Convention four years ago. I know that just because he's animal magnetism personified (if you remove any sexual connotations from the term) it doesn't mean that he's any better of a person or any more sincere in his policies than other presidential candidates. Still, I find myself hoping that his supersonic political rise didn't get him enough time to develop the ideological cynicism prevalent among high-level politicians. I ignore his modification of political stances as just his acknowledgment that he has to get elected first and compromise is the only way things are going to get done with our political system. Despite my surging enthusiasm for this man, I know that I'm probably placing my own hopes on his carefully crafted facade. Still, I can only hope that enough people share my enthusiasm so that I can press his name on the touch-screen in November, watch him become president next year and then have him play the part well enough that I can keep pretending even after he leaves office. I'd be satisfied with that. As long as he keeps that facade up, I'll be happy.
You know what? This video pretty much mocks me sufficiently.