Freedom was on the march, and it marched all over my ass. It stomped my face into the dirt, left its leather markings, the miles it had tread, on my face and cracked my skull. It dazed me. It floored me. Freedom has marched through my living room; it left me for ruin in the dirt.
We are in need of verbs and predicates, iambic pentameter and expository thought, because we’ve been a nation of nouns. A plurality of peoples, of all shapes and sizes, of all thoughts and temperaments, from all places and of all races, apparently were defined by two nouns. And now just one. Monosyllabic Bush. Why use 15 words, the nuance of the human language, the lilt of the tongue, when one will do. Apparently Kerry was one syllable too many, and my brain is tired. My hope is shadowed, the gradual decline of light like a gradual light switch wound down. And this just fucking sucks right now.
My question is not why he won. My question is how did we get to this point? Since when were all the ideas and ideals of all the little people get defined so definitively by only two parties? When was this a good idea?
Nostalgia has a powerful pull. I understand that. I yearn for the simpler days too, just like you. I liked it when I didn’t have a job, when I didn’t have bills and too much credit card debt. When sex wasn’t something I’d have to apologize for, for just having sex. But I don’t get those days back, because I can’t stop the ticking.
I admire the role that faith plays in peoples lives. I understand the need for it, though I don’t trust religion, and don’t think I ever will. I, too, want values, I just don’t want yours. I’ve always wondered what it would be like to live in America in the 1950s, but I didn’t actually want to live there. Not really.
What happened to all of us? Why did the conversation seem to stop like someone shut us down, before we even went to the polls? 17% of under 30 in 2004. A perfect mirror of 4 years ago. Nostalgia is like a drug. It really is.
Someone at work said this today, “Nothing is different than it was 2 days ago, but the city is acting like it was just handed down a death sentence.”
Left turn on the thought freeway.
The Democrats deserved this. Kerry did not do poorly; he ran a hell of a race, a good campaign, but only for the last 2 months. And I keep remembering Dennis Kucinich. He couldn’t have won, but I think the fact that he couldn’t is our fault, the system’s fault, but that’s just an aside.
So much time complaining about disenfranchisement and unfair political practices. No ideas as far as the eye could see. We rallied against something, but we were never, and still aren’t, for something. We anticipate nothing. We wait for the doctor to tap and our knee jerks. The conversation takes place from separate canyons, shouting at each other across the divide. We don’t actually know what the other side is saying, because we are too busy shouting, and they shouting back.
The dinosaurs died out too, and the Democratic Party lumbered. It did so admirably, and it stomps on, subsisting on political ideas that are 30+ years old. In many ways this was a loss of their own creation. Republicans do it better. You don't win national elections with a regional approach.
The fact is, and these are based on actual stats: well over half this country thinks Bush has done a poor job. Over half this country thinks we are heading in the wrong direction. Over half his country thinks Iraq was a huge mistake and is not going well. We don't agree with Bush's domestic or international policies. But, for well over half this country that was not enough to vote for Kerry, and that speaks volumes.
An honest aside. I'm sad that Bush won. I cannot imagine what it is that people respond to in this man, but the simple fact is that they do. He doesn't have good ideas, but at least he has ideas. He constantly speaks in direct opposition to the facts, but he has the courage of his convictions, which is something, I guess. He believes, and that can be a powerful thing.
I hate the fact that he is my President. I'm embarrassed by it. But I'm more embarrassed that the alternative was not something I whole-heartedly believed in. I was hopeful, but not moved. And over the next decade they need to stop looking at the Republicans as some machine, stop complaining and coming up with conspiracy theories, stop running in opposition, or running a "we're better because we care" campaign, and start talking. Start acting. Don't mirror the Republican strategy. Don't simply oppose it. Try to figure out what it means to be Democratic. Or even liberal, because since when did defending the right to choose (for women, for marriage, for how you live your life) become fringe ideals held by the out of touch few.
The silver lining.
Become a party of reformers. It is not as if Bush won through inspiration. “Vote for Me or Die” (thanks P.Diddy) is not a message of hope. It has calcified the Republican Party, and Democrats are now the rebel post outside the tall walls. They can now fight for those of us who can’t fight for ourselves, who won’t fight for ourselves, who don’t know how to fight for ourselves. Reform the system, because the system done broke. Politicians cracked it. We dropped it. Now have the strength in you to fucking fix it.
I have a friend who called me this morning in tears. She is terrified what a Bush presidency means for women's rights and minority rights. She fears that he is taking us back to a 1950s value system for a 21st Century world. She was beside herself.
That, in plain English, is why people respond to Bush and his supporters as they do. The enemy within. People feel threatened and scared and persecuted and ignored.
When did this become an issue of morality? A huge percentage of President Bush’s supporters said they voted for him because they find him "moral." But is that moral within a political context, or moral in a human sense, because aren’t these two different things?
And I don’t, in my weakness and confusion and anger, find him moral at all.
Moral really translates to "religious," or "evangelical" or "Biblical." Isn’t that what we mean when we say moral? With a wink and a nudge. The Electoral College, as it was thought out by the founding fathers, was meant as a safeguard to protect the reasonable minority against the tyranny of a loud or oppressive majority. Hi, I’m in the minority, nice to meet you.
Would Bush be moral without the marriage amendment? More nouns. More arguments. The thin line between politics and religion. Moral could be an ugly word, part of this vote could be a sad statement about just how much we revile gays in our country. Nostalgia is a powerful tool. Back in the closet fags, your time in the sun is over. You can still minstrel your way across our television screens, it’s good entertainment, but the moral ground is one on which you cannot stand. Is that what we’re saying here? God, I hope not. I really hope not, because if it is then “morality" seems to me to be a hollow, ugly, and hateful term when applied to the social issues that face this country.
The off ramp is ahead. I’m almost done with this confused state. There are now, in America, two governing philosophies that couch the entire American experience. We are wrapped in cellophane, and it's just so very limiting. I offer my concession, because we should all offer concessions from time to time. There is so much about the Republican Party and platform that I admire and find appealing and worthy. There is so much about the Democratic Party and platform that I revile. And there is so much I experience that is not covered by either of these. So much.
We need a 12 party system. Did you know most of the founding fathers were against the concept of political parties? They feared it would be too easy for a majority of wealth and power to fall under too few umbrellas forming an almost inflexible political ideal. It might limit discourse. Imagine that.
I don’t worry that the ideas of my President will take some permanent hold. Ideas need water to grow deep roots and a healthy structure to subsist. And most of these ideas, the ones we fear, the ones about how we should live our lives, about who deserves what, well, they just aren’t good ideas. The damage might be done, we won’t know, but even if they reverse Roe v. Wade and pummel dikes into the dirt, bad ideas don’t last. We will, if our worst fears take hold, make it out of the 1950s, because time takes us there. It did last time. And good ideas, even when we’ve taken them for granted for so long and not protected them as we should, good ideas don’t ever become bad. They just grow limp if we don’t watch them close enough.
I fear this man could set us back a few decades. At least we’re all unified in our confusion. That’s one thing, right?
I just hope the conversations that were started here and elsewhere evolve into discussions and ideas being thrown around, and that grows and wields. Because ideas are powerful things. Nouns, when placed with verbs and predicates and indirect objects.
As a friend of mine wrote, "I feel like we've brought a monkey to someone's nice dinner party and that the monkey is throwing shit all over their walls. How do we make up for this." I feel like I owe the rest of the world an apology.
Barack Obama in 2008. Ani DiFranco in 2008. Because right now, like she once wrote, I'm going to take all my friends, and move to Canada, and die of old age. Some friends and I are car pooling. We’re picking Mr. DiFranco up and heading north. Want us to drop by your place? Just be packed and ready to go.
My ideas may be wrong, but not by much. And the instinct towards conversation, the need to turn down the decibel, to go out and talk, to find out, to offer my ideas and to hear yours, that can’t be wrong.
Thanks for coming. You don’t need to help clean up, my ethnic servant will do it tomorrow. Yeah, it’s terrible what his people went through in slavery, isn’t it? Just terrible. Thank God this is the 1950s, huh? Anyway, it was good of you to come. Did you drink too much? Drive safe.
The pity party is over. The urge to shout about morons and that big red blob of shit are suppressed. Can we start talking now? I have so many questions. And I hope you do too.