Wednesday, November 03, 2010

"I had no reason to be over-optimistic/But somehow when you smiled, I could brave bad weather."

The Song: "1921," The Who. Words & music by Pete Townshend. Track 2 of Tommy, 1969.
How/when acquired: Downloaded MP3, 2006
Listen/watch here.

I always loved The Who, but didn't love Tommy. My first exposure to it was the Ken Russell film version, which frightened and confused me (as it was meant to). Tommy was one of the very first films I saw on HBO, when HBO came to Hampton Roads in 1981 or 1982. I was an unusually sheltered 15-year-old, but I've seen the film since and felt justified: there's no excuse for that movie. The stage show might be better, but I haven't seen it and probably won't.

That said, the music cannot be denied. This song works for me out of context; I don't want to think about the story being told, I just like the words and music. I like this couplet in particular, as it perfectly captures the feeling not of being in love, exactly, but of hoping/suspecting that someone might love us. Which would make us lovable, and thus resilient.

I'm rambling. The point I want to make this morning is that elections are all about this feeling of wanting to be loved, but not in the way we usually think about that. Of course politicians — or at least, a lot of politicians (Bill Clinton) — run for office because they want voters to love them. But I think voters elect politicians, particularly in "reaction" years like this one, because we want the politicians to love us.

Every love affair begins, or should, with that period of fascination, when we want to know everything about the object of our affections: What do you eat for breakfast? When did you lose your first tooth? Were you a Boy Scout? What was your confirmation name? It can't last, at least not at that level of intensity, and people start taking each other for granted until eventually — in bad relationships — they stop paying attention to each other at all. At which point, very often, they meet someone new who finds them fascinating.

That's all that happened yesterday. It was shocking to see some longtime veterans lose their seats; Rick Boucher (D-VA) has represented southwestern Virginia since I was a freshman in college. I don't even know if he was a good Congressman or a bad one, but it probably didn't matter. The Ninth District's voters just wanted to be wooed again.

This morning, as Maine continues to count its gubernatorial ballots, I feel cautiously optimistic. Last weekend's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear reminded us that if we smile, we can brave bad weather.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Boucher was the congressman for the district that includes Roanoke (big union town) and young liberal- infested Virginia Tech. He was an indifferent Democrat in a solidly Democratic district, and his extended family all but owned and provided sheriffs and moonshine for three counties in southwest Virginia for the past 150 years. Boucher's loss last night might be the biggest congressional upset of the past 50 years.

-- Ed