So, I've pondered the parallels between dating and Primary Season in two previous posts. Detailed the difficulties in finding Mr. Right and then really committing to him. Now I'd like to consider, perhaps the toughest question: What happens when you do make that leap? How do you learn to live with your chosen candidate, day in and day out? Or, even trickier, how do you survive a "marriage" arranged by The Party's Powers That Be?
Realistic expectations are key, of course. If you choose your candidate with stars in your eyes -- if you elevate him to hero-worship status -- you are destined for disappointment and disillusionment. Let's just be brutally honest here: They are all politicians. They will all try to woo you with words you long to hear, but upon which they'll rarely be able to deliver. They are all beholden to their financial backers. They are all flawed. They will all eventually let you down in some fashion. And the sooner you realize this, the less likely you are to have your heart broken. That isn't to say that all candidates are evil, or that you shouldn't try to find the "right" one for you. Just fair warning not to deify. They are human. And they live and breathe in a world that is often quite ugly. No fairy tale for you!
Even when you are pragmatic in your choice, you are bound to find yourself fed up with your candidate at some point. Maybe he bumbles about in a debate or appearance and embarrasses himself (and you) in the process. Maybe he waffles on an issue that was crucial to your decision. Maybe his suits don't fit right, or his eyebrows take on a life of their own. Maybe you find out he wasn't at all the man you thought he was. Any number of flaws, both small and large, are bound to reveal themselves over time and make you wonder to yourself, "What was I thinking?!"
Early on in the primary process, you have the luxury of being able to seek an annulment -- if your guy really steps in it, there is no penalty to pay for hopping off his bandwagon -- other than, perhaps, a bit of pride. But once the season is in full swing and you've either cast your vote or are about to, your only option (aside from going into complete denial and deleting all social media evidence of the relationship) is to stand by your man. Ideally, you can manage this with sound, rational defenses, pointing out his many strengths and how they more than make up for his failing(s). Barring that, you may be able to justify your allegiance by pointing out that most --if not all -- of the other candidates are guilty of the same. If nothing else, you can usually point out what a vast improvement he is over our current overlord, and most of those with more than a passing interest in your political preference will cede the point.
By the time the nominee is selected, you've pretty well signed on to defend your guy through thick and thin (though, perhaps "sick and sin" is more fitting here -- gold star to anyone who catches that reference.) This can require an almost Herculean effort -- especially if the nominee isn't the guy you chose, but is, instead, the guy chosen for you. By The Establishment. And those crazy Iowans. Who the hell gave them the keys, anyway?!
Yet even if your initial reaction is hesitation -- or worse, revulsion -- chances are you'll eventually find a way to make your peace with the nominee. You'll tell yourself, "Better him than no one." Because, let's face it -- if an "arranged marriage" to a candidate who at least wanders about in the same political hemisphere as you is shudder-inducing, what do you call being yoked to One who occupies the other side of the world? Whose every "solution" is exactly opposite of what you would choose? Who keeps yanking you in the completely wrong direction? And whose response when you protest his decisions is to say, "Too bad - I won"?
Hellish, to say the least. So, yes, you'll likely find a way to embrace the guy who, two months ago, you vowed you'd never touch with a ten foot pole. After all, politics, as they say, make for strange bedfellows. And you'll suck it up and support the nominee, for better or for worse.
But take heart: You're only stuck with him for four years. Eight, tops. ;)