2012 Was the Last Normal Election
If you’ve never watched it, I highly recommend the Netflix documentary Mitt, which follows 2012 Republican nominee for President Mitt Romney around in the final days of that campaign. It is the most humanizing portrait of a Presidential candidate I’ve ever seen, showing Romney at his most relatable, goofy, awkward and relentlessly cheerful: If you do not like Mitt Romney — and I think you probably should — it might just sway you. I am glad he did not win that election, but he acquitted himself well: He’s as normal a person, I’d argue, that has run for President in decades. What’s most remarkable, though, watching the documentary today, is how it showcases the contours of a conventional Presidential election. Candidates defend their platform, criticize their opponent’s views, attempt to appeal to undecided voters, debate the issues of the day. The election the documentary captures happened 10 years ago. But it might as well have been a century ago.
Election Day is Tuesday, and, as usual, it feels like the entire world is on fire.
Since 2012, they’ve all been like this: Seemingly existential battles for the soul of our country, the whole damn system on the ballot every single time. And we all lose our minds accordingly.
2014: This was the Obamacare election, the one where Republicans made huge strides in both the House and Senate by vowing they would end Obamacare (they didn’t), ebola was going to kill us all (it didn’t) and they’d stop the raising of the minimum wage (they didn’t). This was, perhaps not coincidentally, the lowest turnout election since 1942, with only 36.4 percent of eligible voters going to the polls. This was an underrated crazy-ass election, and voters, quite reasonably, responded by staying the hell away. It also led to the intense, constant opposition that Obama faced in his final two years in office, and also why Merrick Garland is currently the Attorney General rather than a Supreme Court justice.