Last week, I mused about the similarities between the primary season and dating. There's an additional parallel I'd like to explore: The fear of commitment.
We all know what that means in the dating world -- for varying reasons, certain folks seem to shy away from the prospect of making things official with those they date. Maybe they're holding out for someone "better" to come along; maybe they've been wounded so deeply in the past, they just can't bring themselves to truly share their heart again; maybe they equate commitment with death. Whatever the reasons for it, the phrase itself generally has a negative connotation. The person who fears commitment is often viewed as damaged; someone to be avoided in the dating world unless one has a penchant for banging one's head repeatedly against a brick wall.
It's not all that different in the political realm: At some point, we're expected to pick a horse to ride into the Primary. The reluctance to do so is often derided by those who've already done so themselves. They've been bold enough to make their choice -- what's everyone else waiting for?! Fence sitters!
Well, I'm a fence sitter this time around. And I note that I am not alone. I don't know if that's rational or dysfunctional, but I can tell you my primary reason therefor: I'm tired of being disappointed. Keep in mind, I'm a relatively recent convert: 2004 was the first year I actually voted for a Republican for President -- and that was only in the General. I voted in the Democratic Primary earlier that year. So 2008 was the first time I truly followed and participated in the Republican Primary process. (Alright, technically, it began in 2007, but the voting took place in 2008.)
I was positively enthralled with the notion of Fred Thompson as the nominee. From the second the serious whispers that he might run started, I was on board. Or, in the saddle. Which sounds weird once you start talking about actual/specific candidates, so I'm not sure how well this equine metaphor really works. Anyway, I was all in for Fred. He was my guy.
But after he formally announced, Fred seemed to lose steam. Questions began to arise regarding the whole "fire in the belly" issue. Did he not really want it enough? While I'm still not entirely clear on what happened to Fred (Twitter wasn't really a "thing" yet, so my sources were sorely lacking), by the time the Missouri Primary rolled around he was out of the race.
I was forced to go with my second choice. Which was Romney. He seemed a solid choice at the time. He had both gubernatorial and corporate experience. He seemed, to me, to be a stand-up guy. I could forgive his "flip-flops" because I'd so recently flopped myself. People's views can and do change over time. His had changed in the right direction, in my opinion. I was okay with that. I'd had the opportunity to meet him and shake his hand just two days before, and I liked what I saw and heard him say. Plus, I knew he had the financial backing to make it through the General. He was a sound second choice.
And then everything fell apart. On the same day as the Missouri Primary, McCain threw his West Virginia votes to Huckabee and helped him win there. I'd already developed a strong dislike for Huckabee because of his disingenuous Mormon comments and his tendency, in my observation, to wield his faith as a weapon. (Here, I'll candidly admit, there was some overlap with a personal situation -- he started reminding me far too much of a toxic individual I'd had to excise from my life. Said individual had also become a fervent supporter of his. The two things combined to forever put me off Huckabee.)
It quickly became apparent that Romney was not going to have the numbers he needed to secure the nomination. By the time he gave his speech at CPAC two days later, he was a goner, as well. And we ultimately were left with McCain. I felt forced to settle. My vote in the General would no longer be "for" someone. It would be "against" someone else. Even the momentary excitement of Palin's selection as the VP nominee soon devolved into disappointment. Come election day, I cast my vote, though in rather dispirited fashion. And in the end, it didn't matter.
Yes, I was disillusioned after that. And somewhat gun-shy. Why would I want to hop on any candidate's bandwagon early on, when the chances were substantial the wheels would soon fall off? And I'm sorry to say it, but we've seen a good deal of that this time around. While I was happy to see a broad field of candidates, and found several who piqued my interest, I've found myself reluctant to embrace any one of them. I first realized the severity of that reluctance during the Smart Girl Summit -- a straw poll was conducted and I grabbed my ballot and proceeded to.....hesitate. Who did I want to vote for? I honestly had a difficult time deciding, to the point that I almost opted not to turn in a ballot at all.
Ultimately, I chose the guy who, all along, I've been predicting would be the nominee. He isn't a popular choice. And I'm certainly not all gooey over him. But I can live with him. Because he's a damned sight better than the current White House occupant.
Have I committed to him? No. Not really. Perhaps it isn't rational, but truthfully, I think I'm more than a little afraid he'd only let me down were I to do so.