Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Other Half

red blue yellow abstract 1So, here’s the thing: a little more than half the people who bothered to vote (more this time than usual) bought into President Bush the Younger & Co.’s agenda. Not an overwhelming margin of voters, but enough. Yes, they’re very well may have been shenanigans unseen in the voting process, but that’s beside the point. The point is there are plenty of people who agree with enough of what the current regime offers to keep it in power. Not only that, the Republicans and their minders retained and expanded their hold on Congress and, in the near future, the Judiciary.

In short, the Democrats and the progressives who support them got spanked like bad little school girls.

There will be much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth. Many will say that our side didn’t do a good enough job of educating, of countering spin; we didn’t reveal the bald face lies for what they were. Others will say the wedge issues did us in; screw the gays and the feminists and those pesky stem cell researchers if it means we have no chance at all to get at least some of our agenda back on the table. Still others will blame fear. It’s difficult to argue with a man who honestly fears for the safety of his family, to tell him that the tax cuts for the rich will eventually do more damage to his wife and sons than any terrorist could. And, please, let’s forget about abstractions like civil rights.

And a lot of folks will conclude that the Democratic Party is irrelevant. The problem is that the Democratic Party being irrelevant is irrelevant.

It just escapes us. Over half the country honestly believes that President Bush the Younger is a better bet for their short term physical and economic security than any other candidate. Over half the country also believes that faggots are going to hell, that the only good Muslim is probably a dead Muslim, that they too will one day make enough money that these ruinous tax cuts will benefit them and their progeny. Over half the country doesn’t care that President Bush the Younger stood before them and lied to their faces about Iraq – and they sure as hell don’t care how many Iraqis have died since we invaded. Over half the country says if you’ve got nothing to hide than you shouldn’t mind the government watching your every move. And over half the country doesn’t even notice that this regime has eroded the very mechanisms of democracy itself.

On the web boards and blogs, a lot of folks variously bemoaned and ridiculed the study done just before the election showing how an amazing number of likely Republican voters still believed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda. Then there was the “reality-based” passage from that now oft quoted New York Times Magazine article; it was yet another and perhaps the definitive admission that this regime has no concern for objectivity of any kind, much less the moral obligations that accompany understanding the world as it is.

And still we just don’t fucking get it.

We don’t get that we will never, ever convince that other half the country of anything. I recall my high school creative writing classes. Aside from wanting to get in the pants of the girl who wrote very bad stories about horses, the one thing that sticks out in my memory is this: Show, don’t tell. That very bad man who’s your villain? don’t say how bad he is, have him drown some kittens or something.

And that’s what’s got to happen in America before things get better. That half of the country who voted for President Bush the Younger has to see exactly what they’ve done. It’s their college bound teenage daughter that needs to die in a botched back street abortion, their son that needs to come home in a coffin hidden away from public view like some rumor of incest. It’s their father that needs to die a slow, painful and expensive death from a disease curable in other nations through the bounty of stem cell research. It’s their wife that needs to be pulled aside for a cavity search at the airport because of a computer mistake in our surveillance systems. It’s their pension that has to evaporate because the dollar is worthless, the nation is broke and all their church can offer them is prayer.

And nothing, absolutely nothing will change until this happens. We can tack to the “center” or, hell, even the right. We can exorcise the queers and the baby killers and the niggers and the spics, but the other half will never, ever accept progressive values until they feel it, feel it in their very bones as they hold the hand of a dying relative who might have been saved, as they wait in line for what paltry government assistance awaits them in their dotage or enfeeblement, as they watch helplessly while their best friends’ lives are destroyed for speaking their minds.

We should forget about finding “acceptable” candidates, about abandoning the rights of the citizens of our nation, about letting the rest of the world “deal with” our policies. If we want power badly enough to do that, we’re no better than them. We must simply wait for the other half to understand the consequences of their actions. To understand it, they must first live it. And for once, we have a regime in power that will give them exactly the starring role in a reality show that they always wanted.

That doesn’t mean that we just sit back and wait to wear our shit eating I-told-you-so grins. I-told-you-so’s will be small comfort when this happens. We need to keep the faith in the most literal of senses, for there will come a time, and I hope soon, that more Americans than not will realize that an intolerant, violent, and spendthrift nation is not the kind of place they want to live. When this happens, hopefully we’ll have our shit together enough to offer a real alternative. If not, than a lot of folks will either leave or begin to take the Second Amendment at face value.


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