So, apparently we are a country of "values" and "morals." Time and again I heard that tonight: "in the midwest, morals are the issue, and the President has the upper hand," and, "in the South, the President's strong values are a key determinant," etc., etc. And, indeed, in those states where "morality" was a top issue, Bush won, and won big. It made me throw up a little in my mouth for, apparently, these are the "morals" and "values" of the United States of America in 2004:
Hell, yes, I'm bitter. As I write this, at 12:30AM PST on November 3, the race is still undecided. CNN has not yet called Ohio, but it looks grim. I don't see us winning this. Even if we manage to squeak an electoral win (and my optimism has melted away), we trail badly in the popular vote, and we end up with an administration without a mandate -- 2000 all over again. Yes, it is possible that millions of provisional ballots will turn up, and I will wake up to a pleasant surprise. But I just don't see it. In the end, just by making the thing this close, the conservative right has won this election.
We are a democracy, right or wrong. In this case, I'm afraid, we are badly wrong. Perhaps, though, a loss this year can become a win for the progressive long-term. It will be little consolation to those masses of people, here and abroad, who will be ground under the heel of a second Bush term, but perhaps the wake-up that rural and southern America (for that is who has given Bush victory) needs will be found in the extremely socially and economically damaging policies sure to solidify during a second Bush term. As the next four years grind on, the poor get poorer, the rich get richer, disdain for the United States grows and extends beyond our administration to those who voted to keep it, perhaps those people who continually vote against their own (and society at large's) better interest will be shocked into reality. Perhaps they will realize that wealth and good fortune do not "trickle down," that drilling the entire ANWAR will not make us energy independent, that "preemptive defense" does not make us safer and that state-sanctioned discrimination leads to societal ruin.
Then again, perhaps not. Perhaps we, at large, are a society of Calvinists, each believing we are predestined to happiness in life and ultimately to heaven, while those who are less fortunate are that through God's design, and they've been predestined for misery, evil and eventually hell since the creation of the world, so why bother trying to make their lives better? Perhaps we believe that we must force our narrow religious morality on a wicked, resistant society because, whatever the short-term cost, we will be rewarded in heaven. I hope, for our sake, there is a heaven ahead for us, for the lives of the average American (who voted in the majority for George Bush), the average Iraqi, the average world citizen are likely to take an unpleasant turn in the short-term, and it will be necessary to have something to look forward to.
Now I'm rambling, and my tiredness betrays my true feelings. I'm sick of this narrow morality which impinges upon the personal and religious freedom of our citizens. I'm sick of a society which turns a blind eye to the ugly and unfortunate. I'm sick of a people who worship the promise of wealth, and ignore every opportunity to help the poor. I'm sick.
And I'm tired. I'm going to bed, to dream of waking to happier news. In the morning we re-assess our situation, and create our forward-looking plans. Maybe society can't be healed. Maybe we will dissolve in our own selfishness and shortsightedness. But that doesn't mean we can give up. I've got a good job, and I'm likely to keep it (at least in the short term), despite Bush and his policies. I'm one of the lucky ones. It's my other job then, in these next four years, to try to figure out a way to help all those who are less fortunate, and hope, in 2008, they can see clearly enough to help themselves. Being a progressive brings with it an inherent optimism. It's hard to see that tonight, but the daylight will no doubt bring a new perspective, and we will soldier on.