It was a warm day. Upper 60s, near 70 or so. I had spent the better part of two months working, volunteering for Barack Obama’s campaign. I had made phone calls, worked the desk, brought food, went canvassing, voted absentee, (never worried or checked to see if my ballot got to my clerk) followed the trends, worried, listened to those who had already started on him about his birth certificate, his upbringing, marriage, “palling around with terrorists,” etc.
After all that, it was election day and I got dropped off at a middle school (just call them Junior Highs, please) with a stack of leaflets and enjoyed the sun and watched the people come and go. I was next to a nice woman who was handing out flyers for John McCain. We teased each other. It was a fun day.
I had turned 50 three weeks earlier. I had come out of a decade of extremes. A decade earlier I was living in a small town in Wisconsin with a woman I didn’t know, like or love. I had been asked to leave. I left and came back to Michigan. I was broke and broken. Spent the next year being, for all intents and purposes, homeless. I declared bankruptcy. Lost friends and almost my family. But I still had my mother and grandfather.
A decade later, I had found a place to live, recovered from bankruptcy (with a few hiccups) and was a world-ranked Paralympic table tennis player. My grandfather had passed earlier in 2008 and my dad was (unbeknownst to me) in the early stages of dementia, which would manifest itself over the next three years, with him living the last nine years of his life in a care facility in Windsor, Ontario, until he died in early 2021.
But, on this day, November 4, 2008, I was very hyped. After my canvassing and handing out literature, I brought the office broasted chicken and shredded some papers. I was invited by the paid staffers to join them at a local restaurant, but I ultimately decided not to.
At 9:30, all three networks called Ohio for Obama and for all intents and purposes, the election was over. He even won the second district of Nebraska, taking a sliver out of Red State America. He won Indiana, who hadn’t voted for a Democrat since 1964. Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, three states in the old Confederacy, went for him as well. It was the largest Electoral margin since 1988.
In an Occam’s Razor scenario, Obama’s Presidency would have been much different. But the “eggs in one basket” (i.e. the Affordable Care Act) led us to where we are today…