Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I told myself to wait

feeling: Disappointed

to not emote crazily concerning the wild ride we had during last night's election returns. Having finally driven home and gone to bed by 4 am, I was too tired to feel much more than numb at the overwhelming gains made by conservatives and Republicans (note, I don't necessarily equate them) during the day.

I was 99.9% sure that Bush would win, after all. I knew that going in, having received prognostication from an impeachable source. But I'd hoped the Democrats could have changed the face of the Senate or House. I'd have been happy if in our local race Mongiardo had been able to roust Bunning, the Republican who repeatedly made gaffes with negative yet bizarre attacks. It was close--just about 22,000 votes. If it hadn't been for the intervention of Republican guru Mitch McConnell, Dr Dan might have pulled it off. At this point though, I don't know if our local smoking ban will even weather this election. About the one good thing that came out locally was support for our bus system, which desperately needs help. It was surprising, given the raise in property taxes that would fund it.

In terms of gay marriage, I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but Kentucky's amendment was at once spurious and far-reaching. On the one hand, it's already illegal in this state for two people of the same gender to marry. The amendment succeeded mainly in preventing courts from striking down the legislation that had made it so. But this measure also removes protections from heterosexual couples who are unmarried, making it more difficult for a woman to get an emergency protective order, for example. I commisurated with one young Republican who is socially liberal who was quite taken aback by how overwhelmingly it passed, and who was also upset that her own demographic (under 30) failed to carry forth in greater percentages. Overall, though, I've tried to steer clear of politics today; I really feel like we're licking our wounds as Democrats.

Certainly this sort of measure was used throughout the country to get out the evangelical, conservative vote in far greater numbers than we've previously seen. Voters were told in some areas that Democrats would take their Bibles away from them and other such nonsense. Unfortunately in many of these churches, the narrow interpretation of scripture is held to more strongly than faith enriched by critical thinking or embracing diversity. The people on the coasts seemed shocked. Those of us in the Bible belt were not. I know people who made decisions solely based on issues such as abortion--or even 'partial-birth abortion', a term that in itself is debatable in accuracy.

My first reaction, beyond the numbness, was the utter vehemence that I will maintain faith in my country despite a lack in faith of the essential intelligence of its electorate. Oh, I'm not saying every person who voted for Bush was stupid. There are many who agonised over the decision. Kerry never truly captured a populist spirit, and there a lot who feel more comfortable with a known quantity, and damn the consequences, than change midstream in the midst of a war, even if the main war we're mired in was manufactured by the Bush camp. I feel marginalised, because I know that in order to succeed, the Democratic party may have to step away from the more progressive ideals and pursue a rhetoric and substance more in keeping with Middle America's sensibilities. I'm not sure that there are any Democrat leaders who can really capture the balance necessary to win back those red states. Hillary Clinton? She was divisive as First Lady. I can almost guarantee that the South will not stand with her; running her would be worse than Kerry. Edwards might be able to pull it off, as he resonates with the South, the good-ol'-boy vote, and his wife appeals to women. Northeastern intellectuals don't cut it. They don't resonate with the heartland, and too often the pundits forget all those 'little' states in terms of electoral votes add up. We need someone who can appeal in both urban and rural areas, someone savvy without being condescending, someone who understands the roll of faith, can speak to many different groups and ethnicities, and who doesn't have a long senate record to be used against him (or her). In other words, a 'new Clinton' without quite the ego or randiness.

Anyone up for the job?

I'm truly bothered by a situation where the president, both houses of Congress, and more than likely the Supreme Court are all in danger of sliding right. It's not just that the Republicans won so sweepingly. It's that of those new seats, several were far right of the president and the bridging, somewhat conservative southern Democrats fell away. This leaves us with a terribly polarised country, and I'm not sure how much compromise--the grease that runs the Great Machine of governance--is going to offer forth. I worry for the environment given the outcome. I worry as my rights as a woman and as a free citizen. I worry about conflagrations throughout the world. At this point, I'm even a teensy worried about Armageddon, with a president who believes he carries out the will of a God I do not subscribe to and just enough crazies out there with their own jihad to fuel another great conflict.

I don't know where we'll be in four years. But for now, I'm not happy about it...and although I've always tried to stay politically informed and have voted in almost every election since I became eligible (the Bush/Dukakis was the one that disgusted me to a point where I hiked in the country that day), I think I need to look at what I can do next go around--volunteer, donate, whatever, to make a change and protect that voice of minority in the hopes that we will still be heard. It would be easy to move to someplace where I fit in more thoroughly--San Francisco, Canada, whatever. But there's something to be said with being the oddball on the front lines, right?

No comments: