Thursday, November 04, 2004

Feel Better

A friend forwarded this to me. I'm sure it's from a column somewhere, but I can't seem to google it up. If anyone has seen it before, let me know so I can give proper credit.

Fear won.

Yesterday, the day after election day, I felt it. I was
spirit-deprived, sleep-deprived, faith-deprived, aghast. I wanted to email
all of my friends in other countries and apologize for something that wasn’t
my fault. I wanted to secede, retreat to my cosmopolitan bubble, spend the
next four years in denial. I couldn’t find a single comfort, except for the
fact that my state had remained blue. And that, in the end, didn’t matter.
I drank lots of caffeine, took a nap in my office, didn’t have anything to
say to all the people around me who were similarly speechless, aghast. I
was afraid to be gay, Jewish, liberal, Democratic, democratic - a
non-majority American. I couldn’t believe that my country could be so
stupid. And then I could believe it, and that was worse.

That was yesterday.

Then I went to sleep. Then I woke up.

History will say, beyond the fact that our country managed to
re-elect the worst president in its two-hundred-plus years, that this
election was won purely on the basis of fear. The Republicans seized the
day because they played the fear card again and again and again. Kerry
waited until the end to play it - and it’s not a card that can be played
second. There was no positivity, no vision in Bush’s campaign; he didn’t
even bother to try. There was only fear.

The Michael Moore movie we should have all been looking at wasn’t
“Farenheit 9/11” - it was “Bowling for Columbine”, with its central thesis
that American history has been dictated by fear of the other, both outside
and within. The thesis certainly extends to today. How else can you
explain how people in small town Ohio can say that their most pressing,
decisive concern is terrorism? Do they say that out of empathy for the
people of New York and DC who are the most likely targets? No. They fear,
however improbably, for themselves. And because - for some reason that has
nothing to do with the truth - there wasn’t an economic fear to
counterbalance their safety fears, they went red.

Then there is the dubiously phrased matter of “moral issues.” If
you listened very closely to the sounds coming from hell, you could hear the
slave owners and the segregationists and the woman-haters laughing every
time that button was pushed. Because it was their legacy that was born
again in this election. Gay marriage is just a part of it. Abortion is
just a part of it. Fear of the other manifests itself in an arrogant,
ignorant righteousness. And this time, that righteousness voted. This fact
beat me up more than anything else.

But wait. I thought about it some more, and I realized that if I’d
been asked which of the factors decided my vote the most - Iraq, terrorism,
the economy, etc. - I would have probably said “moral issues” as well.
Because I feel everything about the Bush administration comes down to moral
issues - and the (again) arrogant, ignorant, self-righteous,
uncompassionate, dogmatic, stubborn, and at times hateful way that they rule
our country. It is repugnant, undemocratic, and needs to be opposed. They
have defined morality to their own goals. We need to take it back.

It is a horrifying thing to wake up and find that fifty-one percent
of your country is just plain wrong. The word disappointment can’t even
begin to describe it. But here’s the good news: forty-nine percent got it
right. There are over fifty-five million people in this country who got it
right. This is not a small opposition. This is not a fringe element.
These are many, many voices that came together with a strength never seen
before. It wasn’t enough, but it was something. We can’t quiet them now.

I refuse to give George W. Bush the satisfaction of my fear. I will
not let him take his campaign tricks and play them on me after the election
is over. (The campaign, mark my words, continues.) I felt fear yesterday.
Gut-wrenching, mind-numbing, soul-confusing fear. It was nearly paralyzing
in its sadness and frustration. Then I realized: the Republicans want me
to be paralyzed. They want me - and you, and all of the forty-eight percent
- to be absolutely petrified with fear. We cannot, under any circumstances,
let that happen. We didn’t let that happen for the past year when he threw
all kinds of orange alerts and vague threats our way. His re-election
doesn’t change our need to be vigilant. It increases it. They are genuine
reasons to be scared of another Bush administration. But we cannot shut
down or shut up. I keep thinking of that despicably brilliant ad the Bush
campaign used, showing the wolves tearing through the woods, talking about
the need for safety against attack. But here’s the thing: they (and in
this case I mean the Bush forces, not terrorists) might be wolves, but we
are not sheep. I refuse to be a sheep. We are wolves, too, no matter how
many times we are told we are sheep. And we must be fierce in our

Don’t let the news break you. They want us broken.

Don’t let your spirit be compromised. You’re going to need your

This is not the end of anything, nor is it the beginning of
anything. It is the continuation of a fight that has been going on for a
very, very long time. It’s called right vs. wrong. And right might get
bruised, and abused, and paralyzed. But every day it prevails in fifty-five
million different ways. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. The next
four years are going to be awful. People will die because of this election.
The fight is going to be harder. But that just means we have to be even
more vigilant.

Fear won, but we can’t let it win.

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