Election results are marred by personal tragedy

There were the campaigns. There were the commercials. And, in the end, there were two less-than-tantalizing candidates. With the finger-pointing, lack of accountability and generally negative political atmosphere, all signs pointed to Tuesday being anti-climactic, no matter who won.

Then I woke up.

It was 6:45 a.m. and I was giddy like a kid on Christmas. I rushed out to my precinct (#34) in Miami Beach to vote. Easier said than done. There were three polling places surrounding the Miami Beach Convention Center, and, without having received a voter ID card, I chose both the wrong ones first. Finally, I arrived at my precinct, only to be bombarded with all kinds of liberal pamphlets from Kerry supporters. As a journalist, I was hoping to be nonpartisan, but suddenly I was parading around with Kerry stickers and pictures of Bush that proclaimed, “You’re fired!” I was rooting for the underdog like it was March Madness.

Yes, Kerry was the man who I saw “less unfit” to be president. Then, Jimmy Morales for mayor. Betty Castor for Senate. It seemed as though all my votes went to the Democrats, but not because my choices were better; rather, it was only because the alternative seemed worse.

Pundits knew that this race would come down to the wire. California would not miraculously turn red on the network screens, nor would America’s heartland begin to bleed blue. So, I waited, until Bush had won Florida and taken a decisive lead in Ohio-the state predicted to be this year’s election hold-up. I went to bed crushed, subconsciously feigning a concerned involvement with the Democratic Party. I would wake up the next morning with nothing hanging heavier over my head.

Then I woke up.

It was my mother, at 6:30 a.m., telling me my Papa had suffered another stroke-the second one in a couple weeks-and my dad was driving up to Sarasota to make sure everything was okay. Startled, I went on the internet, only to see that all the candidates I had voted for had lost, and Ohio was on the cusp of being Bush country. How could things be worse? I went back to bed.

Then I woke up.

It was an hour later; my mom called again: Papa had passed away.

I called my dad, who was on the cusp of Alligator Alley. Nothing makes a son cry more than hearing his own father’s tears, especially tears for his own father. All of a sudden, the next four years didn’t seem that appropriate to project. Red and blue states were just colors.

On a day meant for securing our future, nothing seemed more important than securing the present.

Ben Minkus can be contacted at b.minkus@umiami.edu.