Tag Archives: election 2012

Why we should vote in spring and not in fall –

I’ve often thought elections should be held in the spring, when hope like blossoms springs from our hearts after the long, bleak winter. 

Instead we hold them shortly after the leaves have fallen and the fields have been reaped of their harvest. 

We hold elections at a time when our hearts and minds are battening down the hatches in advance of the figurative death witnessed in leafless skeletal tree branches, barren fields and brutal winds whispering the onslaught of winter. 

Makes you wonder what the time of year we vote has on our collective psyche. 

Would the optimism coming out of a long-winter’s slumber into the fresh newness of spring change the vitriolic nature of our passive-aggressive social networking? 

Is there something to the fact that elections are held at a time when we are still coming down from the super-charged, adrenaline-filled weekends on boats, at the races, on bicycles and skateboards soaking up the sun in a bleary, devil-may-care, 95-degree summer stupor? 

Like all journalists, election night is like Christmas morning for me. I love the frenetic atmosphere in the newsroom generated, no doubt, at the thought that we are covering one of the greatest aspects of being an American, the right and ability to vote. 

I love the fast-paced narrative as the political landscape of the future starts to take shape, and the stories of the next year are laid out along changing party lines and new faces both local and national. 

At 38, this will be five elections from inside newsrooms stretching from Salem, Oregon as an intern at the Statesman Journal to fighting with CNN photographers on the camera podium in the Adams Center in Missoula, Montana for a Barack Obama rally to nearly knocking over the newly elected governor of Alaska while trying to take my heavy winter coat off before an interview.

And now to Chicago, the home of the sitting president, who is looking a little more grey around the temples, a little more lined in the face and with a lesser gleam in his eyes.

Or maybe that’s just my perspective going into this winter season having watched the most derisive and negative campaigns of my career. 

Before this election season, I had never considered unfriending my friends on Facebook or Twitter, and yet here I am having culled my list. Not to reflect what I want to hear, but to temper the vitriol and to make the voices of reason on both sides of the politics spectrum stand out in the din and chaos.

And I’m back to the idea of holding elections in the spring, where after candidates have battled themselves bloody trying to reach us through the protective cover of our hard hibernation, we emerge with a collective hope in all things new, a desire to clean out the cupboards of dust and detritus and perhaps extending that to city councils, legislatures and Congress.

Instead of voting after the grilled hedonism of late summer, after the death-themed finality of Halloween, lets vote after the hunger pangs of Lent and with the newborn feel of Easter fresh in our hearts.


My Marathon Confession –

All this talk of running times has me thinking about my own experiences in the past and how I explain them today. 

For years, my wife and I told the same story regarding our marathon experiences. We recall having run the Portland Marathon in 2003, in a time of around 4 hours and 20 minutes. This is because I chose to eat a half a bagel offered up by a kind race volunteer. And the consequences were the sudden need to find a port-a-potty along the race route. I now get why most racers choose that partially digested goo.

A year after running the Portland Marathon, we decided to run the Honolulu Marathon to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary. It seems crazy, but a race followed by a week of lounging around in Waikiki, Maui and the Big Island seemed like a great idea back then. 

All these years later, we’ve been telling people that we raced the Portland Marathon in a time of 4:20, while we’ve been telling people that we ran Honolulu in a time of 5:30, or so. This was also due to an unfortunate potty stop. The lines for the port-a-potties out on the salt flats in Honolulu were 45 minutes, and Cheryl really had to go. This was because I was afraid of her getting dehydrated. I was constantly trying to get her to drink that nasty race juice they were giving out everywhere.

This morning I went into the archives known as the Internets. A place where lies, half truths and misremembered facts can be brought to light with the flick of a button. 

Turns out we’ve been telling the story wrong all these years. We didn’t actually run Portland in 4:20. It was 5:23:56, in fact.


How embarrassing, right? I feel as if I might need to go and retell the story to all my friends who I’ve been regaling with that story all these years. 

But then I went and looked up our Honolulu Marathon times. Turns out we ran that badboy not in 5:30, like we’ve been saying, but in 3:57:33, or so the Internets say. 

Does giving yourself a better time in one story and a worse time in another story mitigate the misremembered truth? 

Do I need to go undo this? Do I need to retell the story? 

We sat here this morning discussing this and realizing we have no memory of these actual times, just the vague memories of the elements of running a marathon. The times were actually inconsequential to the deeper truths we’ve been retelling about our marathon experiences. 

Paul Ryan proved that times do matter, even though the spirit of the story was not  as laser focused. He is a candidate for vice president of the United States of America, so I get that the laser beam of truth is focused directly at him. Well, OK, it’s focused directly at Mitt Romney, but it’s reflecting brightly on Mr. Ryan.

It seems to me an election used to be about character. And character is defined by the consistencies in one’s life. This is why lies have been brutal on politicians. Lies reflect the inconsistencies, even the once-in-a-lifetime inconsistencies. And these are of a great weight and they deduct rapidly from character. 

In looking at the way I’ve told the story of our marathons, I realize that we could easily defend our innocence in the passage of time and the inconsequential nature of the times in which we ran the races. But the truth is out there, kept digitally from a read out taken by a monitor that read a small chip attached to our shoes. 

We sometimes forget about the microchips we carry around with us. The mini data recorders that are ever present in our lives. And we craft stories in the way in which we want to be seen, not in the sometimes harsh glare of truthfulness. 

I haven’t fully processed all of this, but I do know one thing. I’ve got the Republican VP candidate beat by about 4 minutes.