Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Rollin' Balls: A Response

From where I sit, there were three factors which combined into one big suckerpunch leading out of Election 2004:

1) The results themselves. It was especially hard for my wife, as she had committed uncounted hours of her time to the local Party infrastructure. While it may take a village, as the saying goes, at times there's only one villager with the light burning into the wee hours. It is difficult to come off of that, especially with empty hands. Her activity went from "pedal to the metal" to "wandering on the shoulders of the highway with an empty gas can."

2) Outrage overload. My reading list in 2004 consisted of about every anti-Bush political pamphlet, blog, and tome written. There's only so many times that you can start or end a thought with, "CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT" before tiring of it, and going into a lame duck 2nd Bush term, much of my political fuse was burnt. At least, that's what I had thought -- that Republican politics had pretty much bottomed out, sleaze-fest wise, before Frist & Schindler's Flying Circus hit the airwaves.

3) Business took a steep dive. Work is pretty hard for me to stomach on most given days, but when there's no activity, getting through the week can at times be brutal. (What I have to show for the first business quarter: a Minesweeper record of 148 seconds on expert, and about an 82% win-to-loss ratio on Freecell.)

And while I cannot speak for how others have taken the loss, my coping strategy has amounted to numbing out.

It certainly does not help matters that the Democratic Party has continued their wily strategy to capitulate to the Republicans until "the right moment." After the Gonzales hearings, the disappearance of untold billions of borrowed federal lucre, finding reporter after reporter on the public payroll as policy pimps, Bush claiming credit for the sunrise at every opportunity (e.g. the ripple effect of the death of Arafat in the Middle East), the Gannon non-inquiry, the stalled Plame proceedings, the impending "bi-partisan" doom for consumers that is the bankruptcy boondoggle, the ANWR vote, the continued misinformation campaign on Social Security, and now the quorum-of-three "personal relief bill" for the Schindler family, I am at a loss to point to a single whiff of evidence that there is a functioning opposition nationally.

I did feel empowered as the early weeks of November drew closer. I saw the internal polling numbers from the Kerry camp. I watched election projections on a thrice-daily basis. I took in the news at every opportunity. I talked in increasingly confident terms that yes, we were going to pull this off. It was not to be, however.

When I walked into the office on the Wednesday following the election, people spoke to me as though I had been diagnosed with a dreaded disease. Some even approached me and talked in hushed tones about how they were also [secretly] cheering for Kerry to win. Again, as in 2000, the most often asked question among my comrades in arms was, "How could that dumbass have possibly won?" (The more appropriate question is to figure out how "we" keep losing, but that is another fish fry.)

So, no, I was not ill. Heartsick, maybe. Disappointed, definitely. Bitterness & cynicism certainly are not terminal, but that is really what I was suffering, and now, I am only beginning to mend.

I do not have any answers as to how others are coping, or how my feelings sublimate into a larger collective ennui/disillusionment/recuperation. My feeling is that it is too soon to tell.

For my part, I am busy reconnecting with those things for which I find deep passion. Art, specifically my own photography and writing. Connecting to nature through my craft and through gardening. Rediscovering what it is that I love about music and movies, and finding new things to explore. Reconnecting with friends to talk about something besides politics.

Maybe those things will eventually play a larger part in the world, but for right now, I find myself deeply involved in finding what it is in me that can be an offer to that world, and connecting my personal experience to others who share my interests and passions.

Isn't that, however, how movements begin?


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