Back in 2004 I discovered an election sim called President Forever via a random Google ad on my old blog, bought it and spent many a late night frustrated over my unsuccessful attempts to lead Dennis Kucinich to simulated victory over Dubya. No surprise, really, but it was still a fun game that nicely married a few of my favorite things: politics, simulation and strategy games, and fantasy sports. (That same heady mix of total control and total lack of control that often gets me in trouble in real life!) It was when I couldn’t get Kerry or Edwards over the hump after several tries, though, that I began to get legitimately worried about reality; and the rest is sad, sad history.
So of course, after saying just a couple of weeks ago that I wasn’t going to become emotionally invested in this year’s election — to the point where I was purposefully limiting my exposure to any of the candidates, avoiding some of my favorite shows like Hardball and Meet the Press, only skimming relevant posts on my politically vocal friends’ blogs, effectively being the dreaded Average American — I caved and started researching the so-called Big Three Democrats: Clinton, Obama and Edwards.
Then I discovered Talking Points Memo and their Election Central coverage, and it was pretty much over.
I was still on the fence between Obama and Edwards at that point, but the combination of this Vanity Fair interview with Obama’s wife, Michelle, and Kucinich’s latest “second choice” ploy in Iowa — the same move he pulled in 2004 that put Edwards on my radar to begin with — knocked me off and I am now officially and fully in Barack Obama’s corner. So much so, I’m going to attempt to change my party affiliation back to Democrat in order to vote in the primary next month, something I didn’t even do for Kucinich back in 2004. It might be too late for me, but it’s not too late for YOU if you’re not already registered.
The final, fateful step that leads to me blogging about politics after midnight on a school night was the one-two punch of downloading a copy of President Forever 2008 — which I’d actually bought months ago when it first came out and forgot to download — and watching tonight’s Hardball where Chris Matthews did his usual ringmaster act, cracking the whip over the heads of a variety of handlers, spokespeople and pundits. (I swear I love that stuff more than SportsCenter!) The new edition of P4E includes the full primary season, and I hadn’t calculated how long that would take to play when I started playing around 8:30pm, deciding to take Obama for a test drive to see how he’d fare with me running things.
I nearly quit at one point, shortly after Super Duper Tuesday when I’d run Obama to exhaustion twice and then accidentally finished a turn too early, sending him into an important week with an empty activity slate. Ironically, Kucinich of all people was the initial front-runner, winning several early states, but the large number of candidates in play worked for me as no one was able to pull ahead and my financially conservative approach led me to outlasting the niche guys like him and Biden who couldn’t build any momentum from those early victories and ended up dropping out, most of them eventually endorsing me over Clinton, against whom it came down to the Convention where I won the nomination.
I chose Wes Clark as my VP and ended up facing a Mitt Romney / Condoleeza Rice ticket which made for a very interesting general election that had nearly 200 electoral votes up for grabs going into the final week. I kept Clark barnstorming almost non-stop in the South and Southwest while Obama focused on the Southeast and Midwest, and blanketed every state where he was within 10% of Romney with as many positive TV ads as I could afford. I also avoided any attack ads or digging for dirt which saved precious time and resources for spreading his message far and wide. Oprah and Michelle, along with Dick Durbin, were on the road almost full-time, too, and I had at least one foot soldier operating in every toss-up state down to the final day.
In the end, Obama prevailed in a pretty impressive landslide, 400 to 138, with several traditionally red states having suprisingly close results, including my favorite, Texas, which Romney won by less than 1,000 votes (click on the picture above), illustrating yet again a major flaw in the Electoral College as all 34 of those electoral votes went to him and, in a closer election, could have been the deciding factor.
I’m still not convinced America is quite ready to vote for a black man for President — and there’s a part of me that fears he’ll be gunned down before he gets that far — but the more I read about him and the more I see him talk, the closer I’m getting to believing it could happen. And the more I believe it, the more actively involved I’ll want to become, and considering the undebatable importance of this election and how badly they screwed the pooch back in 2004 with that moronic “Anybody But Bush!” mantra that gave us the most uninspiring candidate the Democrats had to offer, I may be coming on even stronger than last time!
Because I know from personal experience that one voice can change a room, and it’s really not that big a leap of faith to follow Obama’s extrapolation from there…[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmUUYo9o9eg]