Living The Campaign Hangover

Christina Ruffini is a CBS News broadcast associate based in Washington.
I am still completely strung out on Campaign '08. I'm not delusional. I know it's over. But two years and $5.3 billion later, I can't be expected to just quit cold turkey. The election is still coursing through my veins. I need a dose of rhetoric, a snippet of sound bite, a hit of controversy … anything to fill the giant void now left in my life.

Find me a sanitarium, a hospital, a quiet, secure place where I can hunker down and suffer through the next three years without a fix. The campaigns should be forced to pay for some sort of bi-partisan rehab to dry out all the rabid election junkies they created. Republicans and Democrats alike could be seen as bad back alley drug dealers: They got us hopped up on their product, and then inexplicably skipped town.

I am trying my best to get clean, but the withdrawal process is brutal. I am constantly alienating friends because I insist on calling them by their first name and occupation: Gene the government contractor, Dana the dental hygienist, Mike the middle-manager or Steve the unemployed-freeloader-living-off-of-his-wife's-palimony-payments.

I keep egging on the people around engaged in heated debates while I sit back and judge. At the ice cream shop, I asked the scooper to justify - in thirty seconds or less - why I should choose triple ripple over rocky road. I informed the butcher that I wouldn't buy his new turkey when the old one, boring and predictable though it may be, at least had deli experience. I even accused the local produce lady of voter fraud during her "Pick the Best Picked Pear" competition and I still can't look at an acorn without mixed emotions.

I refused to take down my Campaign '08 yard signs until their glaring mootness finally forced my hand. Since I couldn't bear the thought of enduring the next few months with only Santa and the occasional Reindeer staked in my grass, I decided to replace them with more lasting slogans like "Eat Leafy Green Vegetables and "I Support Propositions." People still steal and deface them, but it's just not the same.

The worst thing, however, is that excerpts from stump speeches have started to wheedle their way into my daily vernacular. I told the baristas at Starbucks that their community tip jar "sounded like socialism," and my doctor that his free flu vaccines were a "redistribution of health."

I encouraged a crazy man standing on the street, who was foretelling an impending apocalypse, by telling him "hope was on the way." And I've taken up yelling "se say pueda" at my all Latino neighbors. Last night, when my waiter asked me if I needed change, I told him that all of America needed change and that only by coming together could we truly make it happen.

Maybe I am not cut out for sobriety. What will I do without my daily dose of elitism and condescension? How will I get by without the news of suspect shopping sprees or glorious gaffs? How am I supposed to interact with my fellow citizens if I can no longer judge them by the candidate they support?

If I have to live in a country where I can no longer categorize people by their socio-economic demographics, if I have to look at a map that is no longer confined to shades of red and blue, if I have to move forward without polling data, touch-screen states or holographic newscasters, I just don't think I am going to make it. All this newly-pledged bipartisanship and optimistic rhetoric is killing what little buzz I have left. Hope is boring. I want conflict. I want controversy. And while I wait for new campaign characters to reappear, I want to be heavily sedated.