I am a political junkie. Each election cycle, I watch the returns like some people watch the season finale of “Dancing with the Stars.” I anxiously circle all the cable networks to see who is willing to call a race first. I sit through the pundits. I follow the scrolling precinct returns as though they are the winning lottery numbers.
It has very little to do with who is actually winning or losing. The bi-partisan bickering has never been my draw this night. It does not matter if my horse flops in his first lap. It is the only time I put aside all of my own political beliefs and just enjoy the beauty and history of American democracy in action.
My mom instilled this love of election night back when I was a child. Before cable networks offered round-the-clock coverage leading up to the big dance, my mom had a firm grip on how Senate races across the country were going to pan out. It was the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon election that first sparked her life-long passion for politics. When a handsome young senator from Boston became the first Irish Catholic president, entire parishes around Chicago celebrated and erected shrines in their homes.
My mom is still perplexed over why her older sister insisted on putting a Nixon sign right next to her Kennedy sign on their south side lawn. It was a true house divided, but a testimony to how opposing ideals can live and work together without malice.
I am writing this Tuesday night in advance of prime time coverage. I will shortly offer my oldest son the opportunity to stay up late and watch election night with me. He will ask countless times who I voted for, and I will try once again to convince him that personal politics are best kept private.
It is the guaranteed right of each and every American … despite what my Facebook feed tries to tell me.
Sometimes, I wonder if it is truly better to be more interested in “Dancing with the Stars” than election night.
But then I get to talking about the Electoral College and Marbury vs. Madison and my heart just sings.
Unlike some Chicagoans, I only vote once per election, despite not being dead.
But the magic of it all?
It makes me want to dance “The Carlton” and maybe a little “Thriller.”
For all the dead zombie voters of Chicago.