{ i voted 2000 }

A Message
John Hodgman

I have a unique perspective on this election. This is because over the past couple of days many of the candidates for major offices have been calling me at home to explain their positions on the issues. I am out a lot and frequently on-line, so I've yet to talk person-to-person with any of them. But I have the answering machine messages to prove that the candidates-at least from the Democratic party-are personally concerned that I have all the facts before I cast my vote. This proves what I have long said: it is an exciting time to be an American, especially if you have a telephone.

It began a few days ago when I picked up a message from none other than Joseph Lieberman, the Senator from Connecticut who, you may know, is running for Vice-President. At first I was confused as to why he was calling me, because we haven't had the pleasure of meeting before. So I accidentally erased his message before listening to the whole thing.

Later, though, I was talking with a friend of mine who told me that he, too, had received a message from Senator Lieberman. Suddenly everything made sense. My friend is a published book author. I am a former professional literary agent. Like Barbra Streisand, he and I are just the sort of high powered media insiders the White House has been courting for years with presents and candy. This is because if you are an actress or a journalist or a media professional of any kind, your vote actually counts twice. Not many people know this. But this again is another reason why it is a very exciting time to be an American.

I thought that was pretty much it, until the next day, when I got a call from the First Lady herself. I was out buying cat food when Hillary called (I call her Hillary because I basically know her personally due to my status as a former publishing professional, and she probably heard my name a lot when she was writing her book). Hillary explained that she was going to fight for a prescription drug plan for seniors, blah blah blah. It seems to me that senior citizens get enough prescriptions as it is, but if they want more, that's fine, I suppose. Without senior citizens, where would we be, after all? Who would fight World War II?

But what really got me was when Hillary explained that the Republicans want to turn the clock back, and with my help, we can stop them. I hadn't thought of it that way. Until she called me, I had no idea that Hillary was so strongly opposed to Daylight Savings time, which I hate. Her personal entreaty really hit home, and it made me feel like my vote really counts. As it does. Twice, in fact.

The next day was pretty exciting as well, because when I was on-line researching an important article for a major national men's magazine on how to get drunk, I received a voice mail message from the Vice President, Al Gore. He explained that America has finally put its house in order. Then he rattled off a bunch of numbers about employment and other things and said: "Now the American people have to decide how to build on this foundation."

I have to confess that I wasn't as moved by this particular message as I wanted to be. Sure, sure: the American people. That's fine. But what did Al need ME to do? Appear at a rally? Go on the Today show and give my views? Why was I personally needed to help stop the republicans? I also was not impressed with his metaphors, which I am especially sensitive to, having worked for many years in the book business. First America is a house that has been put in order. That's fine. Suddenly the house is gone, and now it's just a foundation! Are we tearing the house down to start all over again? Is the foundation poured concrete? Will America have a basement? I regret that I found myself more confused than energized. But I will probably vote for Al Gore today anyway (if I have time) because he means well and is not retarded.

By yesterday, I admit I was kind of expecting the next call I would receive. But even so, there was no hiding my excitement when I got back from the laundry and picked up my personal message from Bill Clinton, President of the United States. The President wanted me to know what a great senator Hillary would be. Apparently, if I get out and vote for her, she would commit herself to standing up for me. So here we are again with the emphasis on me: so far, so good. But what really sold me was when Bill explained that the Republicans want to turn back the clock on the progress we've made! Sound familiar? It was as if Hillary had actually told Bill how much I liked that metaphor. As a result, I felt like he was just telling me what I wanted to hear, which is probably the bravest thing a political candidate can do. He's got my vote.

As I have said before: it is an exciting time to be an American, especially if you are me. It would be nice if every voter could share the close, personal relationship I have with our elected officials. But then, everyone would be famous and influential media insiders. Call me old fashioned, but that's just not what America is about.

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{*} We Are the Ones
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{*} John Hodgman is a former professional literary agent and current resident of New York.
{*} The Score
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{*} Dreaming of Greener Pastures
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{*} Three Scenes
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{*} More Than One Vote
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