I am glad there will be no debate this week. I skipped them all. Okay, I watched them in bits and pieces on YouTube after the fact. But I couldn't take the intense emotion of the actual events. It's not that I'm sitting on the sidelines. I am politically involved and well informed. But the emotion, overall, has gotten to be too much for me in this race.
This election—the Obama candidacy in particular—has so invigorated the electorate that everyone feels compelled to share, to pull everyone they know onto the emotional rollercoaster that has defined this political season. I've been Digg'ed, Flickr'ed, Tweeted and texted to death with speculation and prognostication about the outcome of the race. My e-mail box is overflowing, and I have a nagging backlog of election-related notes awaiting answers on LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace.
It consumes dinner-party conversations, dominates wait time in movie queues, and, once, so engaged my dentist during a dental exam that all I could do was burble and gurgle in response.
The adrenaline-rush aspect of this whole thing makes me nervous.
"He's two points ahead, but that really means he's behind."
"Why doesn't he show a little more spunk; push back."
"He shoulda." "He coulda." "He oughta."
I suppose it's why I've never become a sports fan: Too much emotional investment in the team winning; too much stress stimulation when they're in the playoffs. Too much fear.
I expect Obama to win—I'm claiming it, as they say in church. After an illegal war, a greed fest on Wall Street, the sabotaging of our justice system, justifications of torture, the under-the-radar intrusions into the lives of thousands of Americans, I think my guy is the one. My decisiveness is not fully exuberant. Taking the job will be a little like becoming the mayor of Newark after the riots.
I'm just hoping that all the ardor and zeal during the campaign season translates into people going to the polls, going into the voting booth and actually voting.
Turnout in American elections historically hasn't reflected our vaunted commitment to democracy, with just 55 percent of the voting-age population turning out to vote in the 2004 presidential election. In the last half century, you have to go all the way back to the 1960s before you get the voting-age population turning out in the 60 percent range, with a high point of 63 percent in 1960.
So, okay, keep tweeting, flickering, poking and e-mailing me. The only day that counts for me—the only day that matters really—is Nov. 5, the day after Election Day when we have a clear winner; when we know for sure who's in and who's out. I have a clear preference, and if my candidate is the winner, as I expect, I'll be watching then, fired up, drunk on victory, screaming like one of those $1,000-a-day, radio-giveaway contest winners, and, at long last, enjoying the adrenaline rush.
Karen DeWitt is a Washington writer and former newspaper reporter for the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and The Examiner.