Election Night 2012 was so magical that I feel from here on out the name should be capitalized. We saw amazing things happening for gay rights around the country, as well as a couple of states deciding that a little weed never hurt anyone. On this momentous evening I could not think of a more enchanting place to be than the Portland Airport Embassy Suites. But there I was at the Oregon Republican Banquet, listening to the candidates give speeches about hard work and perseverance. Well, not really perseverance. It was more like thanking donors along with promises of waiting it out for the demise of the Democratic Party. The candidates had a hard time speaking over the crowd, which was abuzz with its own self-interest.
When I arrived the banquet room was crowded but equipped with two separate bars, along with a handful of wait staff. The poll watchers had more or less abandoned their posts by this point, except for a loyal few. Members of the media were surveying people in the crowd, and I politely declined a request to be interviewed. There was a marvelous number of cowboy hats, along with six (I counted) hairstyles that I could only classify as "The Rompadour". We were watching the news coverage on a giant screen, and by this point in the evening the election had more or less been called for Obama. As I was buying a deeply discounted Romney/Ryan 2012 t-shirt, the results from the local elections began trickling in.
There was heavy media coverage on marijuana legalization in Colorado, and gasps of disappointment when word came in that Washington State would follow suit. Several people in the crowd assured those around them that this was only the first step, and that legalization isn't just a Zig-Zag away. There are people working on blocking this already, so don't worry and have another whiskey. It seemed odd to be cheering the demise of marijuana legalization in Oregon, while at the same time drinking heavily, but the irony was lost on them. Then the results of Referendum 74 were announced, which they reacted to by not reacting at all. Well that's not entirely true. The hum in the room grew louder as people started talking and ordering more drinks during the coverage of gay rights-related events around the country.
The speeches came next, and we all turned towards the stage to watch the candidates say thanks for all the money and free labor. I politely clapped at the end of each speech, as it's often a good way to assure those around you that you are one of them. Laughing at their jokes about how stupid non-Republicans are is also a good way to blend in. We were all assured that the Democratic Party would crumble under the weight of their own ineptitude, and be left with no recourse but to come to the Republicans for "the solution". The speeches concluded and I meandered through the crowd, watching and listening. As I left that evening, I wasn't surprised by their drunken joy at the defeat of Measure 80. I was more struck by their indifference to the success Referendum 74. And I am still having a difficult time trying to figure out which reaction was worse.