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Creek Running North

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November 03, 2004

First response

It's going to be a long four years.

I don't know which saddens me more: the fact that half the country is appparently fine with voting for a duplicitous, cult-religion proto-fascist, or listening to a bunch of twenty-something bloggers talk seriously about leaving the country as a result.

My powers of prognostication are seriously limited: I actually thought for a moment yesterday that Kerry might win. But this much I do say with confidence: This election is a disaster for the world. It will get much worse than it is now. People will suffer horribly; many of them will die. And many of them will be people who cast their ballots for the incumbent yesterday.

It's tempting to indulge in unconstructive name-calling. Lord knows I've done far more than my share. But it is statistically rather unlikely that half the electorate in the US is composed of either the feebleminded or sociopaths. There are millions of good, honest, sincere people in the US who voted for Bush because as far as they could tell, he best reflected their beliefs about right and wrong.

At least a few of these people will have their worldviews shattered due to the actions of the man they voted for in the next four years. They will need us. If there is an opposition to articulate a cogent, humane alternative to the lying and looting that will characterize official US policy for at least the next four years, the screwed-over will have a constructive place to channel their outrage.

That opposition, despite yesterday's loss, is remarkably effective. It nearly unseated a president in wartime. The young folks out there should keep this in mind: a little perspective is a powerful thing. Even if Kerry had prevailed, the Right wouldn't have gone anywhere. In fact, one of my biggest fears about this election was that Kerry would have won, all those newly energized voters would have breathed a sigh of relief, and - as happened in 1992 - let the new Democratic administration essentially implement the policies of its predecessors.

There is lemonade to be made here. Half the country voted against Bush. The rest of the world is unified in its abhorrence of the Bush administration. The last few months show that that administration is nothing if not inept. Opportunities abound, if we are smart enough to find them and act on them.

Updated: Tena, in comments over at Eschaton, is absolutely on target as regards whining about this loss:

For christ's sake, look at Myanmar and the fight that one small woman has waged all these years against tyranny. Look at Nelson Mandela, how long he was in prison. And ya'll are upset? Give me a break - we have it so good even in the face of this humiliation. We have so much still to be grateful for. We need to organize and get it together while we still have the internet and we can come together.

Posted by Chris Clarke at November 3, 2004 07:39 AM TrackBack URL for this entry:

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Excerpt: I know that there must be a lot of you out there feeling pretty shocked and down about what happened. I feel weary, but also a quickening of determination. Some big changes have to be made. Some hard thinking done. And some strong bonds built.
Weblog: Laughing ~ Knees
Tracked: November 3, 2004 11:40 AM
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Thank you for this clear and level-headed first response. You articulated so well some of the broken thoughts that ran through my head last night. I am worn out today, so not excatly in that punching-back mood yet, but your case for it is a shot of energy, indeed.

Posted by: maria at November 3, 2004 08:13 AM
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Fine post, Chris, especially re the difficulty Kerry would have faced. You quickly dismiss the folks who are contemplating emigration, and it will be intresting to see how that actually plays out. The parallels to 1936 Germany are close enough that many on the left probably will try to leave, and I can't really blame them. Landscape matters too much to me, and I hope I'm not just being sentimental.

I would go hug a Jeffrey Pine now if one were closeby, and drink that vanilla scent that says "here." But I'll have to settle for a head-clearing blast of eucalypt, and try not to idealize Australia too much.

Because here we are.

Posted by: Jarrett at November 3, 2004 09:32 AM
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My very first response to the result was a teetering on despair, but as I thought about it I realized that I did not feel like giving up. Rather I felt a deep determination to take advantage of the disappointment we all feel and make it a fire to feed the outrage. Bush's reelection is a disaster, but, as you so clearly pointed out, the last few months have proved his ineptitude and dishonesty. There is no way, if he continues with his attitude, that anything good can come of what he proposes and does. The world will not stand for it much longer.

My only request this time around is that you Americans take the rest of us in the world on board and use our own wisdom, knowledge, skills, and numbers to help you more (and you help us more) in making this a better world. The planet needs all of our cooperation, not some one-tracked vision bounded by artificial borders. I am as outraged as you are about Bush's hands in my part of the world and I want more say in the matter!

Posted by: butuki at November 3, 2004 10:47 AM
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Hell, I said I'd leave if Arnold got elected, and I'm still here. It's cheap talk. But so, so understandable.

Thanks Chris. The DNC is in need of a total shakeup; I think that'd be a fine thing.

Posted by: Pica at November 3, 2004 10:49 AM
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My frustration is mostly because I was so emotionally invested in this election. I haven't voted for a Democrat since '92, and I genuinely like Kerry.

Oh, well. Time for all of us to get to work. Once I stop fucking crying.

Posted by: the_bone at November 3, 2004 11:09 AM
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"At least a few of these people will have their worldviews shattered due to the actions of the man they voted for in the next four years. They will need us." That's right. And we will have to be level-headed, and not vindictive at that point. For the moment, though, we who opposed Bush need each other.

This was an excellent post, Chris; I'm not surprised by the outcome and my deep sadness today comes from the same place as yours: I can't stop thinking about how many more human beings are going to die as a result of this election, Americans and non-Americans. It strikes me as a death sentence, and I don't know how to process that, except to say that it's not the time to stop raising one's voice against this insanity.

Posted by: beth at November 3, 2004 12:47 PM
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"While we still have the internet" - that was a very clear-eyed commenter indeed!

This election wasn't a total loss. In PA, 26 out of 35 candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club (not counting Kerry) won. The challenger to Senator Specter was unfortunately not among them, but considering how little funding and support he recieved, he did remarkably well. And, all things considered, it might not be bad to have a suposedly moderate Republican advance to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But I'm afraid we're going to have to fight hard to keep the ESA from being overturned (along with NEPA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, etc.).

Posted by: Dave at November 3, 2004 04:26 PM
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Parting Waters - November 3rd 2004

It feels like Groundhog Day. The rodent has come out onto the White House lawn and then scampered back in. Four more years of winter. I’ve been walking around in a haze all day, on the verge of tears one minute, wanting to strike out at all my republican relatives the next (both my parents are from Ohio and while they are the converted few, their siblings are not as enlightened, not as 'coastal')
I came here today knowing Chris would have something to say - something to lift me from my fog. and I was right. Chris Clarke has been an unrelenting inspiration to me, and it makes me even more angry when he is upset, b/c unlike so many people out there bitching, I know he really cares. So I thought I would share my thoughts. Please bear with me, i think you will find something to take home with you here. The real America is down on her knees, and I was wondering like so many of us what I can do to help her up, what difference can I, will I make. My God son was born a week ago. What can I tell him to save him and his generation from the brutal adulthood I have been christened into these last few years. This is what I got...
The madness is changing our faces – parting our races – standing in places, we never thought we’d see – we'd say - the day it all slipped away. A world without end is what they were taught, but that was before all these wars that they fought, got caught up with all these toys that they bought.
Why should you listen to me? I just a 26-year-old who relates more to Woody Allen than to anyone else in Hollywood. But I’m still a bleeding-heart liberal (i always thought that was just a cliche, but today, i think i lost a quart or two or three). Shit, why should I listen to me? It just doesn’t matter, the chatter ringing in my ears. You won’t remember my name. I’ll be long gone, like last week’s #1 pop song. Waiting for the first glimmer of warmth, sign of light, to quell the fright, then just might - get out and fight, but not in my lifetime. Like dusk must feel as night creeps closer – I know that I will not last long. Someone much darker, colder will soon move in.
Fore I am just the planter of seeds, with no mouths to feed. Future generations will sow their need from the roots of the weeds that now infiltrate completely, I am left alone to meddle with how we might deal. Touch me, roll with me - as I ebb haggard.
Remove my mask, and you may ask, just who/what are we dealing with. Everyday I question this quandary, while washing my laundry, far from a neighbor's eyes - a piece of me dies, rising to the surface of my shallow depths to swim alone, can't find my home, the music drones on and on and on - allowing for just the occasional breath. Free of roles and shifting souls, nothing ever seems right, tight situations and sleazy innuendo, brings likely crescendo - crashing to the floor.
Today insanity seemed the right path - a good thing, a goal. Seems like everyone I look up to is insane in some way - in history I mean - insanity breeds with intelligence to give art in so many instances - I see it in my life; what inspires me is not always good, but as food, it is consumed and helps me grow – to show, exactly what I want. That is to say it has not been that way. – but it is everything I want, my days ruined in thought and perspective – only slightly effective – in moving from yesterday, through today, and toward tomorrow.

From tomorrow I must borrow
so to save for today
moments wishing this dream
didn’t leave me this way.
Thin voices chime “come what may”
or maybe whisper “some day”
but ring in silent cliché
for this cast away

Walls caving to goodbye waving
in just a matter of days
Dire dreams roll into nightmares
drop me down in a maze
Not given a choice of ways
Every turn the feeling stays
Memories weave a hot heavy haze
Haunting as the hound that bays

Reeling senses to cold pretenses
thus the waking in lieu
of the uncommon chance
only dreamed by the few
Still trying to deny they knew
simple truths like the sky was blue
While sweating thoughts that too were due
Dripping wet like morning dew

Words empowering then souring
yielding thoughts of setting adrift
Mentally mixing molten metals
worriedly welding closed this rift
Through nestling nights now lost I sift
Unpacking my one lone true gift
meant for you and me to help lift
us from the cold currents so swift

Suddenly strong, apparently wrong
this dream seemed meant to be
more than just simply sleeping
as if time were using me
I’ll try going back to sea
Yet still searching for the key
In time we may come to see
that only love will set us free.

Like some oasis on this long deserted journey, this is my day…. Day in – Day out. Bar in – Bar out. Stay in – Far out. Soak up – Dry out. And pray for more rain.
So where do I go now – how will this make a difference? I want it to be baby steps in a parent’s eyes, no disguise. I crawl with bleeding belly through the Flash video of my past, my present, my future... where I found this, the only difference I will make is if these goals are met when I die, no lie.
There are no answers. At some point, one must come to recognize their own wondering path as just that - freeing themselves from the answers, or even the journey for those answers. They must find beyond those walls some inherent meaning, that may not be able to be verbalized, or construed in some manner where by it could be studied, interpreted, like some alien autopsy. It must be accepted as truth without the question of infallibility. It must bring meaning, and thus I believe happiness, in order to free oneself from the misgivings of society, our lives, our religions. We will struggle and fight for that which is merely lust, but I pray we will not die for anything short of true love.
Love - separated from family, God, and self - love for another individual, romantic, intimate love, will surpass all questions as I see them put forth - to know I need no other purpose than to love and be loved. Everything, everything else in time becomes material, whether you want it to or not, it does.
This is why some say love fades - because they cannot frame it and hang it on a wall. They can't tithe to love, hoping for redemption. Love is with passion, and with passion comes emotion - which will not always wait for your mind to catch up with your heart. Love is fuel for the lonely, and sedation for the wicked. Love is in short, the non-answer, in that it can never be questioned. In that it will always exist, more over persist in the dwindling daylight downstream.
Never a better time to learn to sail, parting waters.

Posted by: Adam Spangler at November 3, 2004 07:45 PM
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Hi Chris,
I just stopped in to share in the sentiments. We need to stick together in the darkness don't we?

Posted by: susurra at November 3, 2004 10:24 PM
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