I can remember being excited to vote. No, seriously. I was actually excited to vote for Bush the Elder back in 1988. And I was never more excited to vote than I was for Perot in 1992. But that was the last time I was excited to vote for President.
I voted Dole in 1996 mostly because I liked Jack Kemp and still couldn't come to grips with the fact that we'd chosen a draft dodger over a billionaire who sent his own private Delta Force into Iran to rescue employees being held hostage. In 2000 I voted W, despite Gore having done me (personally) a real solid many years earlier when he was a Senator from Tennessee. It would prove to be the most shameful vote of my life.
I couldn't bring myself to vote in 2004. That was also pretty shameful. Kerry was eminently qualified to be President, and was a bona fide war hero to boot. But I was so jaundiced by the way Bush and Cheney were running things that the wheels were already in motion for me to leave the country. One of my final acts before moving to France in November 2008 was to cast my ballot for Ron Paul. He was only on the ballot in two states, but Louisiana was one of them.
I voted for Gary Johnson by absentee ballot in 2012. I did the same thing this morning in person. I wasn't excited to do it, but we might get over 5% of the vote this time and get some matching funds the next go-round, so I'm playing the long game. I doubt the introduction of viable third parties will fix our desperately broken system, but it can't hurt.
There are no winners today
If the polls prove prescient, then it looks like Hillary Clinton is our next President. The market seems to think so, anyway. And that's not the worst possible outcome. But it's nothing to dance about, either. If she wins, we'll have elected the most ethically compromised President in modern United States history.
The alternative was worse, and I'll probably never see my country in the same light again. Donald Trump was/is an unapologetic fascist. For all his obvious faults, he owns that and wears it on his sleeve. What baffles me is how many Americans love that about him. To paraphrase Jon Stewart, I don't get mad at a monkey for flinging shit, I get mad at all the people who refuse to say, "Bad monkey!"
If this election has shown me anything, it's that there's less and less appetite for democracy in America, and that's pretty scary. Neither side particularly wants things to go to a vote; they just believe that they know what's best for everyone and should be allowed to enact it unimpeded. The New Republic did a fantastic piece on this subject as it relates to the right, but the left is no different. Dictators are all the rage in America today. (or I guess emperor would be more appropriate in our case)
The Case for Balkanization
What do you see when you look at that map? That's a fairly recent map of the way the individual states break in the electoral college. Do you see 50 states united by anything other than geography? If you looked at this map and didn't know it as the United States, you'd probably assume it was several different countries.
Ideologically, it is several different countries.
I live deep in Trumplandia. Folks down here would like nothing more than to see the two coasts drop off into the ocean (with particular malice toward New York and California). I moved here originally from Clintonopolis, where the red states are viewed as the nuisance wasteland eating up five hours on your way to the other half of civilization. Neither side would miss the other.
So why do we persist with the "one nation, indivisible" narrative, when there are quite clearly two nations, and probably more? Why not give everyone what they want? The blue staters can smoke their weed and sing kumbaya, and the red staters can go to church five nights a week with their full auto AR-15s.
Of course I'm being sarcastic, but let's consider it seriously for a moment. Does it really make sense to manage a population as large and diverse as the United States, over a land mass larger than almost everywhere else on Earth, as one people? I think of China, Russia, and Australia as comparable land masses, but their populations are homogenous and highly concentrated in a handful of cities. We're all spread out, and thus much more difficult to manage.
Half the country is going to go to bed tonight deeply unsatisfied with today's result. If the polls are correct, it's going to be the half with all the guns, too. No bueno. Isn't there a better way to manage this in the 21st century?