Living in a swing state like Ohio is good for your self-esteem

I live in Ohio, the swing-state capital of the Midwest. Sure, people complain about the incessant political ads, the traffic when Mitt Romney and President Obama are moving around town, and the perpetual knocking on the door. But it's a small price to pay for all this attention.

Charles Dharapak/AP
Mitt Romney participates in a campaign event collecting supplies for victims of superstorm Sandy Oct. 30 at the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio. Op-ed contributor Jim Sollisch writes: 'Once this election is over, I think the Ohio State legislature should take up the idea of changing the state’s symbol from Buckeye to Swinger. What would you rather be, a buckeye, which is an inedible nut, or a swinger?'

Living in a swing state is great for your self-esteem. I live in Ohio, the swing-state capital of the Midwest. Sure, people complain about having to watch 20 political commercials just to see an episode of “Modern Family.” And there are people who grumble about the newfound traffic that comes with every visit from Mitt Romney or President Obama, which is almost daily. City officials in many of our towns complain about the cost of added security.

But don’t be fooled. It’s a small price to pay for all this attention.

Let’s face it, people want to be liked and needed, even if they know it’s purely transactional. I’m sure the super-rich have figured out that some people like them for reasons other than their sense of humor. I don’t care if you’re only paying attention to me because of my vote; I’m a middle-aged man in middle America, and I’ll take whatever attention I can get.

My wife and I can go a long time between knocks on the door from friendly strangers who aren’t missionaries. Not this month. Seems there’s a new visitor who really needs us every day.

Our heads are swelling. They tell us that the president is counting on us. “Of course, the president can count on us,” we say to each one, day after day, wondering why they keep knocking. I told the last one, “You had me at hello. But no, I haven’t voted early because I’m very fond of my particular polling place. But don’t worry, I’ll be there with bells on Nov 6th.”

We live in the democratic stronghold of Ohio – Cuyahoga County – in Cleveland Heights, the unofficial progressive seat of the county. So our doorbell only gets rung by Obama get-out-the-vote volunteers.

But Mitt still visits us every few minutes via our television – he and his friend, Karl Rove. Their GPS system may be off because my wife and I should not be their destination.

When I say we see every commercial, let me give you an idea of how many that is. In an episode of “Dancing With the Stars” last week, there were 46 political ads. A reporter from The New York Daily News counted them up. 

A journalism professor from nearby Kent State University joked that “You’re going to have babies who the first words out of their mouth (will be), ‘I approve this message.’ ”

I’ve learned that you can always spot a Romney ad because the first 20 seconds feature Mr. Obama. And vice versa.

The other day, I heard a commentator from New York on NPR lamenting that he lived in a state that wasn’t swinging. He seemed genuinely disappointed, and I felt for him. Poor guy. He has to live in a political cow town like New York City. Ohio may not be known for swingers, but if a sequel to the 1996 movie “Swingers” was being made this season, it might be set in Toledo, not LA. Living in a swinging state like Ohio is a great boost for your self-confidence.

And we need that in Cleveland, where we haven’t won a championship in almost 50 years. We’ve been called out by late-night comics because of silly things like a river catching on fire. Who hasn’t had that issue? And before it was fashionable – back in the early ’80s – we defaulted on our debts.

But Cleveland is a great place to live. Just ask Romney and Obama. They’ve practically taken up residence here the last six months. In fact, Obama is more likely to wake up in Ohio than in the White House. And Romney probably considered buying a home in Cleveland.

Once this election is over, I think the Ohio State legislature should take up the idea of changing the state’s symbol from Buckeye to Swinger. What would you rather be, a buckeye, which is an inedible nut, or a swinger?

The Ohio State Buckeyes would become the Ohio State Swingers. And we could hear some great swing music at halftime. Who doesn’t love swing music?

Jim Sollisch is creative director at Marcus Thomas Advertising.

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