I did not gloat last night as I watched you concede, with your red-rimmed eyes and fatigue, your wife's stretched smile barely holding. Though I had done all I could to create your defeat, and would repeat it, I did not gloat.
I saw you in that moment as collateral damage--the poster boy for extremists--and felt your fragility and confusion. And maybe that's why I'm writing, because that was the first human moment I had with you in this long campaign. Or maybe I just want to throw words up in the air again, seeing how they land. Or perhaps I just want to know what I really think.
Here's the problem with those extremists you let whisper in your ear, Mr. Romney. They operate, always, outside of what is. They think in theories of how people should be, what they should do, thinking they know. That's the catch, you see--thinking they know. That they know, if only they could control certain things that people can do, then the world would be somehow neater, more productive, kind of cleaned up. According to their idealized version of the world.
Except, that life doesn't work like that. Life isn't ideal because people aren't. People are messy. They love who they love, no matter what gender. They want to decide things that dramatically shape their lives, like bringing other people into this world for whom they will be responsible. They fight to be able to stay alive longer when they get sick. Things like that. And none of that means that those people aren't willing to change. It simply means that they want to be the ones to call it.
And that's the thing in the end, Senator. That's what we saw last night, as people with storm-ravaged lives stood on line for hours in the cold to call it. As consumers morphed back into citizens, demanding they call it. As people of color, the youth, and women especially came out to call it.
You had a lot of people on your side. I know, and love, some of those people. They aren't monsters or idiots, and I choose to remember that every day. They believed you could help. But candidates are like a cable package--they come bundled. In the end, we each had to weigh everything you promised to do, not just some of it. And across this nation it came down to that--all the promises, not just some. In that booth, we each decided what we could live with. And I couldn't live with you.
Tonight, I'm not interested in watching you lose again, or watching Obama win. Frankly, I'd like to get on with it. Instead, I wish us all the bravery to leave the circus tent and rejoin this messy free county, the one we decided on yesterday, the only one we've got.