Does it really matter who’s president? Yes and no

President Richard Nixon went to China in February 1972. I was 18, a senior in high school. People too young to remember can’t imagine how amazing that was, after a quarter-century of Chinese isolation.

On TV, I watched Nixon and the first lady touring the Great Wall, and the president trying chopsticks at a banquet with Premier Chou En-Lai.

That fall of ‘72, I was in a UW dorm room when I filled out an absentee ballot to vote in my first presidential election. I voted for the other guy, Democrat George McGovern, who earned just 17 electoral votes to Nixon’s 520.

By August 1974, Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign, with the specter of impeachment looming after the Watergate break-in. That’s another story.

This story — for you to read this morning — is to acknowledge that while roughly half of voters are elated today, the other half dread the worst.

I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter who won the presidential race. Sure it matters. Ask veterans of the war in Iraq whether the 2000 presidential race mattered. For some Americans, the occupant of the White House is life-changing.

Yet for most of us, day to day, the result of Tuesday’s presidential race won’t drastically change anything. Our tax rates may change, or we’ll pay for health care in a different way. Still, we woke up this morning with the same problems we had yesterday, and the same joys.

Here’s something to consider, too, whether you are upset or thrilled by election news today: At times, I have been pleased by the actions of a president I didn’t support. I have also been disappointed by presidents who won my vote.

Nixon’s trip to China is only one example of that. I can think of many.

While I never voted for President George W. Bush, he made us all proud to be Americans when, six days after the 9/11 attacks, he visited a mosque in Washington, D.C. In an eloquent talk, Bush spoke out against harassment of Muslims in the United States, and about respecting Islam.

President Ronald Reagan didn’t get my vote, either. Reagan came into the White House in 1981 with a shoot-from-the-hip reputation, yet he pushed the Soviet Union for deep cuts in nuclear arms, making the world a safer place.

I didn’t vote for those presidents, and didn’t expect to like much of what they did. Sometimes, I was happily surprised.

On the disappointment side, President Bill Clinton’s behavior with intern Monica Lewinsky is right up there. I voted for Clinton, and given the chance I would again. But really, there’s no defending that tawdry chapter of his presidency.

President Jimmy Carter also had my vote, but I wish he hadn’t boycotted U.S. participation in the 1980 Olympics, or blamed the country’s problems on a “crisis of confidence.”

Presidents we voted for can take us by unhappy surprise — both by their actions and inactions. After the 2008 election, for instance, I hoped we would no longer be a nation at war. Yet war drags on.

So here we are, the morning after. You’re happy or you’re not. Just wait. That could change.

Meanwhile, I guess I’ll watch more election analysis, as if I haven’t had my fill. I’ll watch on my Sony TV — the one I bought with a George W. Bush administration economic stimulus check.

You never know.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460, muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

At long last, a church of his own

After years of filling in elsewhere, Hallack Greider is the new pastor at Maplewood Presbyterian.

Judge: Lawmakers’ emails, texts subject to public disclosure

News organizations had sued to challenge the Legislature’s claim that members were exempt.

Outgoing councilwoman honored by Marysville Fire District

The Marysville Fire District in December honored outgoing City Councilwoman Donna Wright… Continue reading

Everett district relents on eminent domain moving expenses

Homeowners near Bothell still must be out by April to make way for a planned new high school.

Their grown children died, but state law won’t let them sue

Families are seeking a change in the state’s limiting wrongful-death law.

Officials rule train-pedestrian death an accident

The 37-year-old man was trying to move off the tracks when the train hit him, police say.

Number of flu-related deaths in county continues to grow

Statewide, 86 people have died from the flu, most of whom were 65 or older.

Ex-Monroe cop re-arrested after losing sex crime case appeal

He was sentenced to 14 months in prison but was free while trying to get his conviction overturned.

Marysville hit-and-run leaves man with broken bones

The state patrol has asked for help solving an increasing number of hit-and-run cases in the state.

Most Read