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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.
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. :)