Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Pick Your Poison
When I was 16 years old, driver's license burning a hole in my pocket and all flush with a bad, nerdy case of early-onset political junkyitis, I jumped in the old yellow Karmann Ghia with my friend Steve and we went election-night party-hopping. This was 32 years ago, in Salt Lake City. As such, the scene at the Democratic party site was dismal. The main floor had already drained of activity, and hardcore politicos retired to smaller rooms around the fringe of the hotel's ballroom. (For the youngsters, let me just say that '84 was not a good year for team blue.) In those smaller rooms, we espied rumpled Dems sagging in overstuffed chairs, highball glasses and cigarettes in hand. It was a sordid and depressing scene, and no good advertisement for the wonders of booze.
Next we went to the Republican headquarters, located in a nicer hotel. The ballroom there was flush with people. They were all better-dressed, all wearing toothy smiles on their faces. It was Utah, so there wasn't a lot of smoking and drinking going on. (Dems, godless as usual, were far more likely to be something other than Mormon; not so the GOP.) I do remember a few people with glasses of wine--though perhaps it was Martinelli's. In any case, the festive mood placed their tipples in a far different light.
Twenty years later, buoyed by totally inaccurate early exits that said John Kerry was going to up-end George W. Bush, I stopped off at a liquor store on the way to a viewing party and picked up a bottle of Lagavulin--fit elixir for a magical evening. (I learned in that election the dangers of confirmation bias and the dangers of inhabiting a bubble of liberals.) When the actual results started coming in and it was clear Kerry was going to have a long night, that fine Islay malt became solace rather than celebration.
Today is election day again, and our quadrennial exercise in democracy is underway. In ballrooms and living rooms and bars across the country, it will end in tears or cheers and almost certainly an alcohol kick. It's funny how booze serves the needs of either group. So go forth and choose--Dem or GOP; beer, wine, or liquor. It's America's big day, and we wouldn't want to miss the chance to bless it with something potent.
Don't forget to vote--