Why choosing a presidential candidate is just like choosing a boyfriend.
I've been dating politicians since I was twenty-one. Presidents to be exact. And while it's a habit I'm desperately trying to break, this year was no different. I found myself seduced yet again by the high stakes and the low blows that consume an election year.
Politics, I've found, are my addiction; they're also my timesaver. In the same way I defer to designer labels as indicators of clothing quality, I look at someone’s political platform as a moral compass to who they really are. Otherwise it can take weeks to get to the serious stuff—like how you feel about the rights of your gay friends, or if you live in California, the rights of the chicken in your McNugget.
Of course, I've never really dated Obama, or Clinton (although he is my "first"), or any politician, for that matter. But the intensity I've felt towards them rivals any other bond I've shared. Because, let's face it: political courtship, especially in an election year, parallels romantic courtship. So naturally, I've found myself going through the same patterns with presidential candidates as I do with the boys I like. Below, the nine, pivotal benchmarks of dating.
Finding The One
Finding a candidate that excites me is no different than meeting the one single guy in Los Angeles who's not hell bent on marrying a fledgling actress: it's worth talking about. So naturally when Obama caught my attention with speeches that left me with butterflies—both at the DNC and Iowa—I was relieved. I was no longer dead inside.
Introducing Him To Your Parents
Naturally, I want my friends and family to see my choice the way I see him, but resistance, coupled with "You could do better" or worse yet "I liked the last guy better" often puts me on the defense.
In the past, if I suspected dissent I'd stop mentioning the guy's name quicker than I'd drop a white boyfriend's hand in a Hindu temple (I'm Indian, by the way). After all the beginning of a relationship is a tenuous time—anything remotely negative could unravel me… and my new love.
But this election year I was stronger—and better prepared to throw shoes at antagonizing heads. I embraced the opposition. Come on, if being an elitist means knowing how to pronounce nuclear, then sign me up for Harvard continuing ed… I'd go on to remind everyone how happy I was with Obama until I solicited the acceptable response: "If you're happy, we're happy." Finally.
Sharing Your Relationship History
Like any girl, I want details and I'm fully aware that there will be some I like, and some we both wish never happened. Take September, when Obama confessed to William Ayers… But it was just one time; it really meant nothing. I nodded, and then told him about my volatile ex (let's call him "W") that embarrassingly lasted eight years too long. But I didn't even like him…or pick him: Texas and Florida arranged that marriage for me.
Nonetheless, we understood that both "exes" still count. I couldn't help but find comfort in knowing I wasn't the only one with emotional Samsonite.
Creating A Partnership
In this stage I show we're in it together. To the point of phone-banking in a Los Angeles warehouse, recruiting volunteers from my kitchen, and being shooed away from porches by old ladies in Nevada—all without his even asking. After all, a relationship is never consistently 50/50. It could be 70/30 on Groundhog Day and then 20/80 by Black Friday. And while the "old me" would soon lament this pendulum swing, there comes the day he thanks me, on television no less! And suddenly, even I’m surprised that it's okay if it's not all about me… well, at least until Valentine's Day.
The First Fight
He said "marriage" should only be between a man and a woman and suddenly the prenuptial honeymoon ended. It was the first time we didn't see eye to eye. Panic set in and I started picking even more fights. Who are you anyway? He didn't fight back, but reminded me that we didn't have to agree on everything. I considered this, reassured only by the fact that the pros still outweighed the cons. But let's be honest: I was still counting.
All the Buddhist books I'd been reading couldn't keep me in the present and I found myself asking the tough questions. What about the future? Do we have one? Politician or not, he was like any other guy, saying he hoped so, but he couldn't make any promises. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but somehow it managed to be enough… for a little while.
Squelching Hopes of Happiness
Not wanting to get my hopes up, I tried not to get excited as I wondered, "Will he keep his word?" "Will he break my heart?" Or worse yet, "Will he run (for the hills, not for office) upon discovering my obsession with the Kennedys?" Unsure, I remained cautious, keeping my emotions in check. But really, what was the point? In the end, it never hurts any less.
Taking The Leap
I finally faced it. He was the one. At least that's what everyone was telling me. So now it was time to let go—and let the euphoria in. It was worth it—I knew this because I was finally happy. Plus, he thought I was hot! I knew this because of the HOT WOMEN VOTE OBAMA button I wore on my jacket.
So, what's the best thing about dating the President? Easy. It's the high I'm riding now. And what's even better? I'm not coming down—at least for another four years. How could I? He's the President.