Thursday, November 04, 2004

Well put.

In the wake of the election results it seems every person with access to a computer has become an insta-pundit in their efforts to grapple with what Bush's victory means to them. People seem shocked and stunned (I know I am) so I don't think very many folks are making much sense right now, including me. As someone who likes to think they specialize in communication and the written word, it's always humbling to come across someone else that says something so much better than I can at the time. The following showed up in my in-box yesterday and was written by local author and activist Jon Resh. The original text can be found here at the website for his very own Viper Press.


Last night I went to bed with a headache at 2:30 a.m. Waking up this morning, my head was still throbbing. Aspirin doesn't seem to help.

It was my brain's attempt, I figured, in refusing to accept the outcome of this election.

Frankly, as I mentioned to some friends over the last few weeks, this result was almost exactly as I predicted. A close race that Bush would win was hardly a surprise to me.

I hoped desperately that I'd be wrong. I would've loved nothing more than my fellow Kerry-supporting pals to snicker at me on the day after election, scoffing at my cynicism.

But the current obstacles seemed too great to oust this incumbent, especially given the somewhat lackluster, less-than-spellbinding candidacy of the Democratic opponent (who, in all fairness, was a worthwhile contender and worked as hard as he could for his campaign).

So today, on Nov. 3, my problem is not with Bush alone. He still remains (in my view) a jerk, a zealot and a would-be tyrant, just as before.

My current problem is broader and more complex. It's with the 51 percent of American voters who approved of Bush, his terrible rhetoric and his unethical policies -- and who want him to carry on with more of the same.

By returning him to the presidency, they've endorsed his agenda -- regardless of its many serious flaws -- and believe his command is worthy to shape America.

I've always rested my faith in the American public. Even if bad choices were made, I felt we would always collectively steer ourselves right again. That's the blessing of democracy.

But this choice in re-electing Bush is, from my standpoint, a vote against intelligence, reason, honesty, fairness, courage.

It's a vote for authoritarianism and aggression over rationality.

It's a vote that says "might makes right" is the proper course, regardless of the consequences.

And the consequences seem very bad indeed. Four years is a very long time when a strong mandate is in place, especially when resistance to the prevailing powers is weakened (as is the case with Congress, which, as of last night, will now seat fewer Democrats).

So presently, I feel I don't understand or relate to -- much less agree with -- that group of Americans (all 59 million of them) who believe in George W. Bush as a leader, given the obvious and severe flaws in his character and record of the last four years.

I guess people are scared -- and with good reason. Security fears are certainly legitimate, especially in the midst of war. But from my standpoint, this president's conduct is only worsening the problem.

I can't help but question the Bush voters' common sense: "Don't these folks realize this president is damaging our country domestically and ruining our place in the world internationally? That he's making life more dangerous and less secure for Americans in countless ways? That his handling of affairs is consistently detrimental? That the guy is, beyond all else, a total ass?"

As a result, a part of me -- at least at this moment -- deeply distrusts those voters that returned Bush to the White House, and I can't help but question their core values. And I admit: that's really terrible. I don't want to think less of anybody simply because of the way they vote.

But this election was a choice of two opposing visions of ourselves and our identity as a people.

Despite massive activity and participation against it, Bush's vision -- in all of its moral rigidity, arrogant resolve and intellectual obtuseness -- won.

I knew that, if Bush was re-elected, there was a dangerous possibility that the will of the opposition (meaning us, the remaining 48 percent) would probably deflate. Having invested everything in toppling Bush and giving it all of our strength, our
formidable effort would seem in vain.

And I realized that, not knowing what else to do, a tide of apathy, isolation and self-enclosure could set in among us. I certainly don't want that to happen. But I'm tired too, and a bit perplexed.

I'm sure many of us are now asking ourselves the same big questions:

Should we continue to stand against the seemingly detrimental ideas and actions of the Bush administration -- though our very best efforts have changed nothing?

Or, against our principles and better judgement, should we accept and learn to live in this "new America"?

The latter option, of course, isn't really viable, at least not to me. And apathy can hold only so long under unyielding right-wing rule before popular frustrations boil over.

I find myself wondering if, having failed through the established channels, some form of social unrest might arise during this term -- especially if the possibility of, for instance, the reinstatement of a military draft becomes a reality. Given these perilous and uncertain times, along with this administration's proclivity for
suppression, such upheaval could get very ugly on both sides.


I take solace in the fact that I'm not alone.

Fifty-five million Americans who voted for Kerry are probably dealing with similar emotions -- including you, perhaps.

Maybe after the dust settles, it will be time to anchor ourselves and learn from our mistakes. To regroup, reassess and return invigorated, ready to extract this government from the clutches of the current administration, and make America the kind of enlightened, strong, capable place that has provided so much benefit to its citizenry -- and to the world -- for more than two centuries.

Perhaps we'll even come to find common ground with those 51 percent of Americans who voted for Bush, and eventually we'll all be friends again.

But for now...well, this headache's still killing me.

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