I’m going to start by quoting myself. Today is Nov. 2, after all, the day of the great getting up, and what better way to start the whole self-referential, regurgitating political process than by choosing my own words to spit. This is not a product of self-adulation, this is not masturbatory in process, these are just words I believe are fitting.
But first let me starting by acknowledging the time at the bottom of the page. 9AM. Right now I’m probably standing in line, ready to vote for the very first time. So my question to you, if you are reading this around the time it goes up, if I am the first thing you did today (and normally I would love you forever for doing that, but not today) I have one simple thing to say to you: Why on God’s green earth are you not voting? No, seriously, get the fuck out of here. Vote, dammit! Just this once, just this one time, please, for me, for all of us, for the rest of us who never spoke up, for those of us who find the most important civic duty to not be found in the ability to vote, but rather in the hands of the also-rans who happen to represent us, just this once drop the façade, because I have, and I’m pleading with you. Please. Vote. Go now. Read this later. Go vote.
This is a series of words I wrote the other day, about my generation, my group, my peoples, the ones I tie myself to and define myself to be a part of. That group of people who have never voted in their entire lives. The us, not the them. The we, not the they. Only 30% of people in my age bracket have ever voted. 30%. I don’t consider this a sad fact, but rather a sane response to a fucked up system. A protest against the things we knew were wrong, but never had the vocabulary to put into words. It was a conscious decision; it wasn’t an accident, so please stop looking at us that way. This was my idea, why we find ourselves here, in this space of action, in these kinetic days, with so much feeling and energy and emotion and passion. This was my simple explanation. It’s not an apology, not an excuse, it’s just the truth, as I see it, and it might be wrong, but damn I doubt if it is:
“And our generation has access to information and technology in a way that none have before us. We don't just invent and influence the ways in which these tools are used, we understand and own them as well. We personalize them. We make them ours.
We ask more questions than we get answers, and you wonder why, as a stereotype, we are pissed off?
To this point, our generation did not benefit from a distinct cause or point from which to rally, as others had before us. We did not have a Vietnam. We did not have mass genocide. We didn't even have Communism. We had AIDS and homophobia and bigotry and Parental Advisory stickers and NC-17. And now we have terrorism, one more abstraction to add to the growing list of amebic problems that face kids who came of age in the 80s and 90s. You wonder why we took so long.
Our generation, in a debate that persists in generalizations, had the example of the generation before us: the former hippie generation, who protested against everything, who had causes and passion and flurry and momentum, only to settle, to become the things they fought against. And you wonder why we were confused?
Our generation is Republican and Democrat, and yet at the same time we really are not. Because we see the ruse, the hustle, the hypocrisy dormant in both these philosophies.
Our generation is very much the hip-hop generation, which has little to nothing to do with the actual music and more to the response, the frustration, the knowing there is something to vent against, just not being sure where it is because, until recently, it didn't show itself.
Our generation may not have all the answers, but we won't settle for the same staid responses either. Nov. 2 is something of our coming out party, a statement of intent. Maybe Bush wins re-election, but the conversation is changing, and I like to think that is because of our generation.
And I hope we change it for the better. Even if Bush does win, and I don't think he will (cannot fathom how that is even possible) the next 4 years will be far different than the previous.
Our generation understands that both 2Pac and Eminem, even at their most vulgar and profane, still had profound things to say and offer. Lessons to be learned. Messages to parse. Things to think about. And we listen to these things, to all of them. Just as you listened to Bob Dylan and John Lennon. We don't defend Eminem or 2Pac, because we don't see the reason to. Why should we? Your failure to understand them is not our problem.
Our generation is not set or defined by one thing, though people have frequently tried to pin us down.
Do you hear us? Cause you will on Nov. 2. And for a long time after that.”
Those ideas seemed relevant.
Our actions, to us, speak for themselves. They require no footnote, they need no caveat. We understand them, for ourselves, and you, the older ones with the confused look and concerned scowl at the ways we’ve been lead astray, you will grow to get it, I hope, or fade into some empty place where the useless people go.
I want to see the numbers. 18 – 30 years old. How many voted? What was the breakdown? What did we have to say? I want to hear the numbers, the chunk of the handle as it’s pulled, as it builds from the belly and into the throat, into some visceral, body shaking, primal scream. Nov. 2 is a tiny landmark, and not just because of this election. This is the day that we, the open-minded and energetic youth of America finally put our back into it. And push.
I get asked a lot why my generation is so lost. I tell them we are not, we’re just confused. I get asked why we are so angry. We’re not angry, I tell them. Lately I’ve been adding another sentence. We’re not angry, I say. We’re fucking pissed off.
Here is my image for today: There are people at the ballots. They are in their voting booths or standing next to their fraudulent electronic voting machines. And may be there is just one person. A supporter of our President. And this person stands there and stares at the names. JOHN KERRY on the one side, and GEORGE W. BUSH on the other. And this person, this thinking and feeling person, leans almost reflexively towards the BUSH button. But then the thoughts come through their head. The constitutional amendment. The absurd tax break. The pet goat. The sad reality that Osama bin Laden is still alive, still making tapes. The 1,100 plus dead. The 10,000 to 30,000 dead Iraqi citizens, depending on which estimate you believe, and neither number is acceptable. “Bin Laden Determined to Attack within the US.” Condi. Rumsfeld. Scooter. Cheney. And it starts to add up. Abortion is not a debate, it’s a fucking choice, it’s a right, it’s a decision, and it’s between two people. Marriage is sacred. For all of us. The blocking of the formation of the 9/11 Commission. The lifted assault weapons ban. The words “Compassionate Conservative” wash away like so much invisible ink. And this person, this American, starts to think, “Am I really going to vote for BUSH, just because I’ve always voted for his party?” And they switch the direction. And they pull the lever. JOHN KERRY. Stamped and indelible. Unchadded.
Voting is not your civic responsibility. Voting is something like monogamy. It’s a choice we make. You either do or you don’t. Simple as that.
I’m optimistic. Even if he gets 4 more years, I’m still optimistic, and here’s the reason why. We’re louder than we were before. The Great Quiet of 2002 and 2003 has ended. We’re on our guard. Even if the horror movie has a sequel, BUSH TWO: WE’RE FUCKED, this conversation has evolved too much over the past few months for things not to start changing. We’re starting to demand more from our news outlets. We’re starting to demand answers to the question we asked. And even if KERRY wins, when KERRY wins, the same standards apply.
The hetero lifemate wrote me this e-mail today:
“I wonder if we will sit back in 20 years and realize that we were witness to this forced ignorance, that we were silenced for so long. I wonder if we will be embarrassed… I wonder if we will wake up one day, read a history book and think to ourselves - Holy shit, I lived through that. I wonder if that light will ever really be shed, or if the history of the modern US will forever be shaded and jaded by the politics that is forming it.”
I think in 20 years we will look back on this time and see it for what it was, one massive, country wide, immobilizing depression. The low point before things started getting better. I cannot see people looking back at these 4 things and thinking, “That man was the worst President we ever had.”
I want to see the numbers. 18 – 30 year olds. How did you vote? How many of us and in what percentages? How did we change these times? What did we do? We, this group of overwhelmed, oversmart, and overinformed, was this the day that we started to change things? I think it is.
So if you ignored me before, get up and go now. Go pull the lever. Get your vote on.