The last-minute Election Day checklist
OK, people, today is the day! So little time, so much to do before we go to the polls. Perhaps we should make a list:
1. Complain about the Electoral College.
If you live in places like New York or California or Texas, feel free to spend some time in a dark corner, contemplating the way you're taken for granted. So what if you've got a strong political majority for one party.
You're still Americans! But your state has already been colored red or blue on all the Election Central maps. Nobody wants to take your political temperature. Nobody cares what your waitress moms are thinking.
For months now, we've been listening to people from Ohio moan about how many political ads they're seeing on TV. Ohio, some of us have never gotten a single ad! How many celebrities do you think have parachuted into Rhode Island to do fundraising for Barack Obama? How many network camera crews are on their way to take the pulse of Alabama? You're beginning to sound like people who complain about how tough it is to manage three vacation homes.
2. Consider the bright side of the Electoral College.
If your state has no swing-like characteristics, there's no danger that you'll be humiliated before the global media when it screws up the vote count. New Yorkers, every time you get sullen about the fact that your state doesn't matter, try to imagine what would happen if the entire future of the presidency depended on getting absolutely precise numbers out of Brooklyn.
3. Worst tweet of the election season:
"Because of the hurricane, I am extending my 5 million dollar offer for President Obama's favorite charity until 12PM on Thursday."
4. Stop obsessively checking the polls.
This has been going on way too long. Stop torturing yourself! Whatever Colorado is going to do, it'll do it today. Clean the basement. Read a novel. Consider purchasing a new pet. If it's an Irish setter, you can name it Seamus.
5. Forget about the fact that Mitt Romney once drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car.
If he loses, nobody will care. If he wins, we'll have so many other things to worry about.
6. Find a Senate race to follow.
You are probably going to spend the night glued to a computer or television that is repeatedly announcing it's too soon to tell who got elected president. The time will go much faster if you're diverted by the Senate returns. Since there are only about a dozen races in which there is any conceivable contest, it's really not all that hard to become an expert. ("I believe Heidi Heitkamp has an excellent chance of beating expectations in North Dakota, which by the way is the only state with no voter registration.")
My personal favorite is Connecticut, in which we finally get to find out whether a person whose only prior experience is that she helped to build a professional wrestling empire can get elected to the U.S. Senate if she spends $100 million of her own money. But pick for yourself.
7. Learn the identity of your state legislators.
The chances are 50 to 1 that they're going to be re-elected without breaking a sweat. But the fact that you know their names will impress your friends even more than that thing about the North Dakota Senate race.
8. Just go ahead and vote.
If we lived in a democracy full of heroic candidates in evenly matched battles, there'd be no challenge to being an energized voter. Everybody would do it! As it is, one of our greatest civic virtues is the willingness to soldier on and participate in elections even when the contests are foregone conclusions or vaguely ridiculous.
Every day on my way to work for the last few months I've walked past the Victory for Obama Campaign Center on Broadway and 103rd Street in Manhattan. This is a neighborhood in which every single race on the ballot is hopelessly lopsided. Actually, most of them are uncontested. The state has already been painted blue. The congressman who has been in office for 20 years is being challenged by a person with no campaign funds and whose slogan is "Michael is familiar with politics ... but he is not political."
Yet the place has been full of enthusiastic people selling buttons, handing out literature and staffing the phones. This is what makes America great. True, the people on the phones were calling voters in Ohio. But still. You do what you can.