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Wednesday, November 03, 2004

There are no fat ladies in politics.

And no, I am not referring to the obesity of political operatives. I think we all know that, in a literal sense, there are significant number of fat women, and fat men, in politics. My point is this: in politics, the fat lady never sings.

Politics is not a game that is played, and then ends with a final score and a championship ring. There are no ultimate winners, there are no ultimate losers. Any gain, and any defeat, is temporary, waiting only on the next round.

As Slag pointed out, yesterday's election went about as badly as it could reasonably have been expected to. President Bush appears, barring some sort of bizarre sequence of events, to have secured reelection. We lost seats in the senate, as well as in the house, giving the Republican party unified control of the government. Unless party discipline breaks down among the conservatives, we have little hope of restraining their mad excesses.

I am, to be frank, grieving. I see this electoral result as an embarrassment for the United States and for thinking people everywhere. I see it as a betrayal of our core values, as a surrender of our honor, and as treason against our children, who will be forced to pay for our mistakes. To my sons and daughters, should I ever have any, I offer my most sincere apologies. I tried, my darlings, we all tried, but it wasn't enough. I donated an uncomfortably large portion of my income to the Democrats. I volunteered my time. I displayed signs, I wrote spirited arguments in opposition to Bush. It wasn't enough, we needed more.

After today, I will not write on the election again until next week. I need time to rest, to heal, and to mourn. The broad outlines of disaster are already apparent, all that remains is for the smoke to clear enough for us to make out the details. Until such details become clear, there is little that I can add but confusion and speculation. Normally, of course, confusion and speculation would be the centerpieces of my posting, but just at the moment I have no appetite for it. Tomorrow, and the day after, I may post on trivialities, or on serious topics, but I will not post on the election. Slag, for his part, might engage in a little election-dissection, but that's his call. It's no use having a co-blogger if I tell him what he can and cannot post.

For those who are depressed and miserable because of the election's result, take time to accept what has happened. Our hopes were high, our cause was just, but the world is what it is, and all too often the good guys do not win. Rest, rue, release, and recover. Allow yourself a few days, or a week or two, to work through the pain.

But work through it you must, because we need you back in the game. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not over yet. As I said, there is no final score in politics, and this game is far from decided. I do not mean that continued battles over Ohio are the order of the day, at this point I doubt that conflict can benefit us. I mean simply this: we still have access to protests, to lobbying, and in two years, to mid-term elections. We may have lost the executive branch, but in two years we can recapture the house, and the senate. Two years after that, we will once more have a chance at the presidency. Our fight is not over.

While watching the election coverage with increasing horror last night, one fellow grad student, that I shall refer to as Binky, was particularly annoying to the assembled. When I left our Electoral Wake in the wee hours of this morning, I gave a ride to a friend who said, "Wow, Binky must have really been pissing everyone off." I asked my friend why he thought that, and he more or less responded, "You were being short with him. I mean, you're normally so patient, or you seem so patient, that if you were being that way, everyone else must have been furious." Indeed, though it may not come out in my blog, I have on several occasions been accused of being patient (it's a damn dirty lie, as far as I'm concerned, but that isn't the point) but there are two things with which I have no patience: whining, and defeatism.

We lost this election. We lost a whole series of elections yesterday, but goddamn it, we are not done. We aren't anywhere near done. We have senate seats to recapture, we have house slots to win, we have social movements to support, we have a political war to fight. We have suffered a setback, and there can be no question about that, but we have not been destroyed. Look at those elections results. We control nearly half of the popular vote. Even with the insane, irrational fear of terrorism that Bush has amplified so skillfully, we won nearly half of the country. We are not weak, we are not beaten; we are mighty, and we shall overcome. Does it seem that way now? No, not really, but so what? To use an expression from my old job, "Some days you sodomize the crab, and some days the crab sodomizes you." (And I'm sure you'll believe that there's a really long story behind THAT saying) We just had a bad day, but that doesn't mean that tomorrow has to be a bad day as well.

We on the left must remember one thing: we are Americans. We are a nation that has made a national tradition of one single attitude. That attitude is simply this: "Fuck you!" For all it's flowery language, the Declaration of Independence was a letter of "Fuck you!" sent to George the Third of England. We were confronted with the mightiest nation on Earth, and yet still we dug in our heels and fought. In the Civil War, the Union suffered defeat after defeat, and yet stood fast and told the south "Fuck you!" slogging on until the nation was made whole again. My fellow Southerners may have lost that war, but when the tides (fortunately) turned against us, we remembered our American traditions and defiantly cried "Fuck you!" fighting on without shoes, without jackets, without food, and without much hope. Is it any wonder the Civil War was so bloody, when it was fought by some of the most stubborn sons of bitches on Earth? In World War II we screamed "Fuck you!" at the seemingly invincible forces of Japan and Germany, and gave our blood and sweat for our freedom. In the latter half of the 20th century African-Americans, women, and homosexuals bellowed "Fuck you!" and charged the barricades of oppression, winning many of the rights that have long been denied them. We are Americans, and so we are heirs to that proud tradition of stubborn strength. We will not bend, we will not yield, we will not surrender our nation to the forces of ignorance that now hold sway. Our fight is not over, my friends, our fight is just beginning.

I have heard many ask, partly in jest and partly not, about where they should emigrate to after this election. I understand the urge, but I will not be among them. I am a citizen of the United States of America. I was born here, I was raised here, I live here, and I love my country. I will not let anyone run me out of my home. I will not leave this land because intolerant bastards are trying to shape it into a fascist theocracy. This is MY country, that is MY flag, and you can have my freedom, and my citizenship, when you pry them from my cold, dead hands. Guess what, you sons of bitches? I'm staying right here, I'm voting, and I will see you turned out of office. Don't like it? Then come and get me, you motherfuckers. I'm an American, and you won't take me without a fight. I will respect the electoral process, but I will display no less ferocity for all that.

So, my friends and allies, go to your bars, and your coffeehouses, and your homes, and lament our defeat. You may take the time to be sorrowful, and to weep for what has happened, but don't take too much, or wallow too long. We need you and your country needs you. We are an army and while we may sometimes suffer defeat, we shall never give surrender. Or, as Tina put it:

Game on.

UPDATE: See? This is what I'm talking about.


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