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05 November 2004 @ 11:24 am
More on politics, 'cause I just can't leave it alone  
I'm actually cross-posting this entry to both my LJ and my regular journal, which is a rarity for me. For those of you who get double spam, I apologize.

My Mom just sent me this excerpt:

Thomas Friedman, who's a columnist for The New York Times, said this today:

"I often begin writing columns by interviewing myself. I did that Wednesday, asking myself this: Why didn't I feel totally depressed after George H.W.Bush defeated Michael Dukakis, or even when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore? Why did I wake up feeling deeply troubled?

Answer: Whatever differences I felt with the elder Bush were over what was the right policy. There was much he ultimately did that I ended up admiring. And when George W. Bush was elected four years ago on a platform of compassionate conservatism, after running from the middle, I assumed the same would be true with him. (Wrong.) But what troubled me Wednesday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an out-pouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies from me - they favor a whole different kind of America from me. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is."

Yes. Yes, yes, exactly, and that's what I've been saying all over the place for the last couple of days.

And that's what I'm finding really scary. It's what's making me wonder--I mean, I've been saying all along I was going to leave the country if Bush won this election, but the last few days I've been wondering if the country hasn't already left me.

I truly believed this election was going to be revolutionary, and it was. Just not in the way I thought it was going to be. I thought that the people were going to stand up and say, "This is not the America we want." I thought they were going to say that they shared the same--and at this point I shudder to use this word--values that I have.

Instead, out of the what, 220 million potential voters in this country, a hundred and ten million of them turned out, and fifty seven million of those voted for the America that Bush is offering. A quarter of the voting population disagrees with me on what America should be. Okay. That, even that, I could handle.

But another hundred-million-plus did not vote at all, and that to me says that they either support Bush's America or they are complacent enough to not care. That means three quarters of the American populace disagrees with me, by action or inaction, on what America should be. And _that_ was revolutionary, to me if not to anyone else.

And so now I'm wondering, really, truly wondering, not in a fit of political hyperbole, but out of genuine dismay and distress over what this country is: do I want to live here? I believe that as a wealthy nation we have the *duty* to not just our own people but to the world to be socially and environmentally aware; to think about how our actions affect the world around us; to care for our own people as an example to others. I believe that our worship of the Almighty Dollar above that of human beings is criminal, even evil, and I believe that we must treat our poor, our elderly, our disabled, with respect and care for them when they cannot care for themselves.

Three quarters of the American population evidently does not agree with me on this.

I believed--I truly believed--that America as a whole would make a move toward socialism in this election. I believed they'd support a candidate who supported national health care; a candidate who would not evicerate the Social Security system; a candidate who would not, for God's sake, begin wars of aggression against non-threatening states. Since Wednesday morning, I've come to realize that the socialist structures I admire are the creations of adult nations. America is a young nation; the socialist nations of Europe--where, if I were to move, I would go--are old. I don't believe socialism is strictly a thing scrabbled to and reached by old nations; Canada is a clear and obvious exception to that. But today I fear that those ideals--truths which I hold to be self-evident--are so very far away from the America I'm living in today, that I may never see them come to fruition. I honestly thought that within twenty years we'd have national health care. I now don't know that I think I'll see it in my lifetime.

Ted, yesterday, extrapolated something that I had not yet done: the permanent erosion of the separation of church and state. I was horrified. I *am* horrified, because once he said it, it seemed so painfully obvious that I felt sick. We already know our First Amendment rights are being worn away. Over dinner last night, Ted and Emily and I were discussing the election, and the fact that people are being arrested for disgreeing with the government, and then not being heard from again. I forget the exact conversation, but the point of it was: we were American citizens, and we were seriously and genuinely discussing the possibility that the government could 'disappear' us for disagreeing with it.

We are *Americans*, dammit! This is not a fear we should have! We shouldn't even be *contemplating* it. But it isn't a joke. It's a horrifying reality. We have become afraid of our own government.

And so I am wondering: is this where I belong? I no longer know. And _that_ is the truly devastating thing about this election.
Evil Headdrivingblind on November 5th, 2004 01:18 pm (UTC)
Curse you and your flip-floppery double-postery ways!

In other words, that guy said it about right.

But I'm swearing off politics for the next four years. Denial is a powerful tool for driving me to focus on the small stuff -- which is, on reflection, exactly what I need to be doing anyway. :)
kitmizkit on November 5th, 2004 01:54 pm (UTC)
I keep telling myself I'm swearing off politics (for a few days, if not years!) and keep dragging myself back in. I think I'm too edgy right now to let it go. Not because I'm angry that Bush won the election. I'm disappointed, but not angry; whether I like it or not (and whether I think he got in on an incumbency that wasn't his or not), the majority of the people who bothered to vote voted the man into office, and I respect that. The thing that I'm twitchy about is its implications (as I see them) for the country, and I'm not quite ready to put my head down and concentrate on the details right now. I frankly envy that you can. Good luck. :)
Evil Headdrivingblind on November 5th, 2004 01:58 pm (UTC)
I can, only by dint of having something to keep me busy. You've got writing. Use it! :)
kitmizkit on November 5th, 2004 02:05 pm (UTC)
Yessir, Iagosir. :) Lotsa editing to do...
UrsulaVursulav on November 5th, 2004 02:11 pm (UTC)
*grin* I know how THAT goes...

Seriously, James has been muttering about getting transfered to Montreal, and as much as I believe in trying to stay and facilitate change, and as much as I fear the paperwork involved, even with a job waiting...sometimes when I'm at a low ebb, I think "Wellll...."
_wastrel_wastrel on November 6th, 2004 12:59 am (UTC)

Montreal is barely an hour's drive from where I live. I'd be utterly delighted at an opportunity to meet you (and buy some of what little art you have left ;) at a local convention sometime, even though part of the back of my mind would be screaming at me that you had to move for a horrible reason.

Not that the States don't need a few sane people left in them to vote next time around or that I don't have a vague notion of what an excruciating pain moving has been to you just the last time around, mind you...
annathepiper on November 5th, 2004 01:30 pm (UTC)
I am heartsick to have to say it, babe, but I am right there with you. That solarbird and I are having to genuinely, seriously consider whether we will still be living in this country in four more years makes me queasy and unsteady and just generally want to weep.

I am fervently wishing it does not come to this, and I hate the nagging certainty that it might--that if we want to raise a child in a loving and supportive environment, we won't be able to do it in the country that birthed us.
kitmizkit on November 5th, 2004 01:59 pm (UTC)
To me, the trend of the last four years, and the certainty of four more years like it without *any* confidence that the 2008 elections will reverse the trend (Republican president + Republican congress = attempt to overturn the 2 term limit amendment = King George I), make me want to get out sooner rather than later. And that's just horrifying to me.

There's a part of me that says, effectively, "Hell, no, we won't go!" A stand and fight attitude, you know? But if the ideals I hold dear are really that badly outnumbered, while I do think the good fight is important, I also think perhaps I'm better off leaving America to become this thing I don't recognize, and going overseas. It's one of the most unpleasant revelations I've ever had. :P
annathepiper on November 5th, 2004 03:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I've been angsting all week about whether 2008 will bring any real hope for a push back towards sanity. I see plenty of people talking that Dubya won the election by the skin of his teeth, but that is scant comfort given that it still means he gets to be in charge for the next four years.

I think that where I am right now is a mindset of "work for the best and prepare for the worst". It'll suck either way.
Tripspace_parasite on November 5th, 2004 03:11 pm (UTC)
I don't think the American Theocratic Business Party will bother to try to overturn the presidential term limit. It would cost them some political capital, and it's not as if there's a shortage of failed oil execs and professional fraudsters in their ranks to replace the current ones. Swap out the President & VP, appoint the right-hand old white men of the curent cabinet to the new cabinet, get the same senators and reps elected to congress (no term limits there, at least not that will be problems) and the Jesusland Juggernaught keeps rolling forward.

Oh, wait, that's not helping, is it? Well, some people have been suggesting that Bush is showing the first signs of Alzheimer's, so perhaps he'll go off the rails so spectacularly that he takes his entire administration with him?
ever so pluckyaelfsciene on November 5th, 2004 03:11 pm (UTC)
Not to say there's not a part of me that's tempted to leave (New Zealand!), for exactly the reasons you've laid out, but you should read Mark Morford's article on the whole thing, if you haven't already.

I think I'm pretty much in for the long haul because I need a lot more schooling before I'm realy employable in the field I'm most interested in, and I'm not sure how feasible that'll be in another country. So while yeah, I'm disheartened and scared (my parents, my entire home state disagrees completely with me), I'm going to keep, well, working for change.

Right now, I'm working on a research paper, and not doing much change, but I tell myself it's all part of a bigger goal. o.O
Ellen Millionellenmillion on November 5th, 2004 08:25 pm (UTC)
I believe that as a wealthy nation we have the *duty* to not just our own people but to the world to be socially and environmentally aware; to think about how our actions affect the world around us; to care for our own people as an example to others. I believe that our worship of the Almighty Dollar above that of human beings is criminal, even evil, and I believe that we must treat our poor, our elderly, our disabled, with respect and care for them when they cannot care for themselves.

I believe these things too. That doesn't mean I'd vote for Kerry (I didn't). That I didn't vote for him does not mean I do not believe in these things, as you imply.

It is not because I am 'complacent,' either. I did my research, and I didn't find any of them to be people I wanted in control of my life. I wasn't going to cast a fear vote, and frankly, Kerry scares me every bit as much as Bush ever did anyway.

It's tempting to say 'They didn't vote for Kerry, therefore They must be against every good thing he ever stood for.' But that really is a gross generalization and widely false.

There's my 3 cents. Don't 'disappear' me for disagreeing. :P
kitmizkit on November 6th, 2004 12:24 am (UTC)
Not a chance of me disappearing you. :)

I don't actually think that three quarters of the American people are facists. I'm willing to grant, in fact, that 'complacent' is an
unforgiving word to describe those people who are eligible to vote but who did not.

But then, I'm not in a very forgiving mood just now. I'm aware that I'm generalizing to a gross degree, and that people have reasons for choosing not to vote. As it happens, I know you opted to not vote in the presidential election when you cast your other votes. You at least _voted_, even if you chose to abstain from that particular election. I appreciate that, in a position of feeling that your choices were evil or the slightly lesser evil, you opted to choose neither.

My objection to that is that whether we like it or not, we've got a two party system. I don't foresee that changing, and unless it does, the best I can see my way clear to doing is choosing the side that strikes me as the lesser evil. To my mind, doing anything else is tacit support for the greater.

My purpose in making blanket statements is not to attack people who don't agree with me, but to lay out what I'm feeling in broad terms and to provoke discussion. I know some of my friends will be caught under the umbrella of what I'm saying. I don't necessarily expect people to agree with me, and I don't want to get into nasty fights with my friends, but nor am I willing to back off from my stance.

I'm angry and frustrated, and I don't pretend to think you aren't, too. It's a lousy situation all around. But for what it's worth, I don't mean to attack you personally, and given that I really do want to provoke discussion, well... that part is working, anyway. :)