Election eve - and with the absentee ballot board coming in early tomorrow, it's my election eve - is a strange time for me. I live in the world of politics and elections all the time. It's normally a small and insular world.
But once every four years - NOT in mid-terms, which we need to work on! - once every four years it's everyone's world. And I get to see the beautiful diversity of my many layered community coming through my office. Wave after wave, layer after layer, communities within my community that I barely oven notice existing at other times.
It's enlightening and uplifting and it's helped make up for the fearful climate of this year.
This is my fifth presidential cycle at my job. (The cycle before that I was a candidate and the one before that I was a staffer.) I've averaged 70 hour weeks the last two, and I'm two weeks past my last day off.
I made a brief stop at the headquarters after work. The office was filled, with people I don't know and who don't know who I am. It's ironic - as deeply embedded in the political community as I am, yet at the very moment the process peaks, I'm an outsider. Or, rather, I'm so deep inside that I can't see anything except this handful of bad absentee ballots that I'm desperately trying to get voters to fix.
Sometime in the week since I last drove the car, my sons figured out how to work the satellite radio, and in my brief drive I found the 80s college radio station. It was playing "Rise" by Public Image Limited, and Johnny Rotten Lyden was howling over and over:
Anger is an energy... anger is an energy... anger is an energy... anger is an energy...
When I was 22 and playing that then-new song on college radio, my anger was aimed straight at Ronald Reagan who I was convinced would draft and kill me, and that anger WAS an energy.
But at age 52, and in the context of this election, it scared the crap out of me.
I parked in the driveway and tried to figure out what it meant. If you're looking for hope, don't turn to Johnny Rotten. Was close to tears until my wife startled me, and teased me for playing it so loud loud enough to hear in the house. Loud enough that even the teenage kids were complaining and how's that for role reversal.
Our state has been the definitive counter-trend state of this election, and that poll last night was troubling.
But I'll tell you something else. There's something I've seen more this election from voters - by that I mean not generic voters but actual people coming into my office to vote right now - something I've seen more this year than any other election.
Passports that are obviously very new.
As if to prove beyond any doubt and any accusation that they whatever the color of their skin, they are real Americans.
At one point I helped someone who is well known in the community register for the first time. A name you would know. I was unaware they had not been a citizen until just days before. And I get the feeling that many others hustled along on the naturalization process to make sure not to miss this election.
And it has always been new Americans who made America great. Again.