In 2004 I was a Sophomore at TLU and member of the briefly active "College Republicans" (I went to two meetings and got a shirt). It was the first Presidential Election I got to vote for. I had previously, that spring, voted for a local Bexar county election for school bonds and a couple of local seats, but nothing as exciting as this. Less than two weeks after my roommate was killed, I still hadn't figured out how to be around my usual TLU friends without it being sad and awkward, so a lot of the TLU choir people took me in and invited me places and on this occasion invited me to watch the election results with them.
So that's how I ended up first at Austin St. Live in downtown Seguin. I was only 20 so I couldn't drink, but I got to hang out with the TLU students who seemed to have a vested interest in politics and I got to enjoy all the debating and trash talking between everyone. I had attended a couple of the TLU sponsored debate watchings in the ASC and that's how I had learned who in the choir seemed to actually care about politics. One of the guys from choir had a political map he was coloring in as results came in, he and I seemed to be the only Republicans in the bar, but he was totally the loudest, all I had was my "TLU Dubya" swoosh shirt. I was easily one of like 5 chicks there out of 30 guys, I knew none of the other chicks though.
I didn't stay there long, shortly after Texas polling closed and all that was left to do was wait for all the others, one of the choir guys invited me back to his apartment (on-campus) to hang out with his friends and to watch the rest of the results come in and drink. So a group of about 8ish of us went back to their apartment and we switched back and forth between all the news stations for about an hour. Eventually someone said it was boring we wouldn't get the real results till morning so they were gonna put on a movie instead.
Everyone was appalled I had never seen Clerks so that was first. I didn't like it my first viewing, I thought it was entertaining and fun but kinda cheesy in some parts. It wasn't till a few years later that I really started to like it when silly random things came back to me. I was totally obsessed for a while and watched it the last election night in '08 and will probably watch it again tonight. After that the results still weren't in so they put on a comedy DVD of Dane Cook which was also my first exposure. The third movie I don't remember because I fell asleep. Someone eventually woke me up around 2AM and walked me back to my dorm (all of 100 yards away on a well lit sidewalk.
So that was my first experience. The second one was very different. I didn't have a conservative support group at all besides my family. All my friends and all my co-workers were staunch democrats. I remember that night like any other Tuesday night going out to my fave local bar and seeing the results come, watching Clerks that night, but nothing too special about it. The next day however was awful, I just remember the office being so smug and being like "Oh who won?" and it's not like I really really cared- cause like I feel this year my day to day life really isn't gonna change one way or another- but it was so obnoxious, I don't remember anyone being like that when Bush won in '04 at TLU. So that totally left me we an icky taste.
This year, luckily my office at TAMU isn't very politics-chatty. Most of the office voted Obama and I only know that because they said it in small groups or one-on-one, not loud, boisterously and in front of the world. No one asks what my political preference is, probably two people in the office know, but they don't care. It's not gonna affect our work-relationships or friendships. The students are actually louder about it here, as on a lot of college campuses I guess, and most of the students are conservative which again is a change from my last two institutions.
I don't get to vote this year, cause I moved at a weird time and just never got around to registering to vote here. But I also don't mind too much. I know Texas will go Red, so since that's all I would be able to participate in anyways, it doesn't really "hurt" that I didn't get to vote this time. All I can control is my own vote, so I don't feel the need to get horribly stressed out about what everyone else does. This country is supposed to be a democracy and if this year that means they chose a candidate I wouldn't have supported then so be it. I don't agree stuff on both sides, but I'll live within the laws created under both- my day to day life really wont change much, sure I may pay more taxes here, get free crap I don't want there but I'm not going to stress about it.
Once upon a time I would have cared a lot more probably, I would have gotten involved in the debates and arguments online and probably pissed off some friends in the course, but I just don't have the energy and don't see the benefit. You aren't going to change anyone's mind with your witty FB comment or Twitter rant. Let people believe what they want and maybe ask questions about why they do, in my boss' words "seek to understand" instead of seeking to change or overpower.