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November 3, 2004

No way ahead. I’ve been, for most of my life, an earnest optimist—an encourager, a cheerleader, never at a loss to demonstrate the ways in which the glass is half full. On occasion I’ve even been hard on those friends to whom pessimism comes more naturally. (Hi, Mary Kay.)

This morning I’ve got none of that. I don’t just feel beaten; I feel like I’ve lived a fundamentally foolish turn of mind, like I’ve been defrauding my friends with an amped-up similitude of rational optimism, and that I can’t imagine why anyone should henceforth care what I think about anything.

I’m sure there are ways to come back from last night’s catastrophe. As I’ve said to politically-despairing fellow Americans before, tell it to Vaclav Havel. But right now I can’t see forward. This seems like a good place to stop. [09:18 AM]

Welcome to Electrolite's comments section.
Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on No way ahead.:

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:30 AM:

What, just because the City on the Hill is in the process of validating a crook who happens to have the worst record of any president since Grant?

Just because four years ago, the one consolation I took was that he would do such a bad job everybody would see what a tool he is? And he did worse than I could have ever expected, and they didn't?

Torture doesn't matter. Dead soldiers don't matter. Stolen weapons don't matter. Avoiding his service doesn't matter. Corruption doesn't matter. Class warfare doesn't matter. Inaction in the face of terrorism doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter. What matters is... I don't know how to finish this sentence. What could possibly have decided them that a courageous war veteran who fought for his comrades abroad and at home, who helped expose BCCI and wrongdoing by both parties, who encourages debate instead of insisting on loyalty oaths, was a weak-kneed flipflopping traitor?

Reality doesn't matter. The only real thing now is the pain, and I guess that doesn't matter anywhere outside my stomach.

I'm sorry. I have no optimism left that the next four years will open any eyes, either. Ooh, chocolate rations will be doubled! Let's see Eastasia top that!

Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:33 AM:

Wow. I tune in for for a dose of your bracing "get-over-yourself-and-stop-whining" smack on the head, and find you as despairing as I am this morning.


Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:37 AM:

A phrase guaranteed to bring hope when all is lost, and gloom when things are going their best:

"This, too, shall pass."

Ron In Portland ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:44 AM:

This old soldier gives up. A majority of Americans have decided they want to live in an imperialist feudal theocracy separated from the rest of the world, OK. I guess dying as a good "Christian" soldier or living the dificult life of a serf will make it easier when the rapture comes. Boy, I/m glad I don't have grandchildren.

moe99 ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:45 AM:

This is why I read good fantasy, Patrick et al. Many thanks to you and Theresa and your cohorts for that as well as your blogs.

Beth ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:47 AM:

"This, too, shall pass."

I said that four years ago. I can't muster the optimism to say it today.

Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:48 AM:

A commenter at CT posted a bit of Pope which says what I'd like to say.

See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of Casuistry heapíd oíer her head!
Philosophy, that leaníd on Heavín before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense !
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,
And unawares Morality expires.
Nor public Flame, nor private , dares to shine;
Nor human Spark is left, nor Glimpse divine !
Lo! thy dread Empire, Chaos! is restoríd;

mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:48 AM:

I've been through worse than GWB. I've been through Marcos. It took a long time, but he finally got what he deserved. And you know what toppled him? People speaking out in spite of fear and apathy and depression. People not giving up. People seeing more in common with each other than with him.

There, did that help?

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:49 AM:


What about this did we not know before yesterday?

That it was going to be close? That the systems in Florida and Ohio were gamed? That the Republicans raised money and volunteers to keep voters from the polls?

We raised a whole lot of money for lawyers on the assumption that all of that was going to happen.

I don't know that it's time to buy into the narrative yet.

dlacey ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:53 AM:

I've shared your optimism and I am not by nature an optimistic person. I don't know what I feel this morning. Numb maybe, disbelieving. Perhaps horrified. This can't be my universe.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:56 AM:

Julia, it's probably not, but I guess this is the measure of my limitations. Hit me this hard in this particular way and, evidently, I fall over. (The fact that I've been sick for several weeks probably has something to do with it too.)

Mayakda, that's a very good point, and I hope people take in on board even if I'm too worn out to do so.

Jon Hansen ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:01 AM:

Beth, I'm not entirely sure it's optimism.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:01 AM:

I thought I would be completely depressed if Bush won. Strangely, I'm not. Looked at the headlines, thought: "Bush won. He's still evil." I have not changed my mind about that. I don't doubt myself.

I feel like Iíve lived a fundamentally foolish turn of mind, like Iíve been defrauding my friends with an amped-up similitude of rational optimism, and that I canít imagine why anyone should henceforth care what I think about anything.

Patrick, do you believe that Kerry lost because you were too optimistic?

I'm sorry you feel foolish . . . but I'm sure none of your friends have lost any respect for you. Perhaps they have known you to be mistaken before : )

This quote was floating around Making Light recently (I'm giving the English, not the Anglo-Saxon):

"Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose, more proud the spirit as our strength lessens."

That's how I feel. I never believed Kerry would be much different from Bush - just a little different. We'd still have to fight.

Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:04 AM:

Looking for hope?

It's not over till it's really over. I'm waiting before crying in despair, because every vote should count, and every vote should be counted.

The following two sentences come from an article at the Washington Post.

Kerry found his strongest support -- more than 80 percent -- among those who named the economy, jobs and the war in Iraq as their most important concerns.
In Ohio, the economy and jobs topped the list, named by almost twice as many voters as those who singled out Iraq.

I'm still hoping, Patrick. And I'm usually the "canary in the coal mine", rather than the Pollyanna of cheerful spin.

Ray Radlein ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:12 AM:

There are only a couple of days in each month when I feel healthy enough to leave the house and run errands. I worked for about two weeks to make sure that yesterday would be one of them (and even if it wasn't, I told Angie to pour me into the car if she had to.

For the last several months, I have spent the overwhelming majority of the few hours a day in which I am capable of something resemblimg organized action obsessively following and digesting the news; living inside the numbers; reading the tea leaves; and trying to flog my diminished control of language into allowing me to adequately shape and express my thought to others, so that I might contribute whatever thoughts or insights I had to the overall debate. It's actually annoyed Angie considerably on more than one occasion to see me spend so much of my physical and mental capital on the world of politics: She knew plenty well ages ago that she wasn't voting for Bush, and that was enough.

So I was slightly surprised when, as we walked through the grocery store after our brief (ten minutes, in and out; no lines, no wait) and quixotic foray to vote for John Kerry in the bloody red heart of GOP Georgia, Angie said to me, "I don't think I've ever wanted anything as much as this."

For the last several years, my life has been like a slow-motion replay of the second half of Flowers for Algernon — I'm extremely unemployed, our finances are a shambles, I have entire days where every breath or heartbeat causes my whole body to throb with pain, and far too much of the world slips through the grasp of my increasingly clumsy mind. And yet, none of that has been enough to do more than bum me out occasionally. I am not a person naturally disposed towards despair.

Last night, however, crushed me. This is just so much worse than I could have thought possible.

Intellectually, I agree with you that things could certainly still be worse. In fact, that's part of the reason why this is so devastating — because I can see absolutely no reason to think that they won't now get worse.

In other words, what you said.

Kimberly ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:13 AM:

Even without knowing for sure yet, it's clear that it was a great night for homophobia, misogyny, and the pending theocracy.

I keep running into moderate Republicans here at work, who claim they voted for Bush reluctantly, only because of one or two issues, and seek to disavow responsibility for many or most of their party's platform and actions.

If it turns out like it looks like it will, what I think they all need to hear, frequently, is this: "Hey, he's your guy. You voted for him. In four years, if Iraq isn't a thriving democracy, if the Middle East is still a disaster, if our economy isn't completely recovered and it isn't raining jobs, if new justices are appointed and Roe v. Wade is overturned, if the United States is still engaging in international empire-building and torture, or if any one single child has been left behind--it's your fault."

They don't get it, though. They don't believe they've just signed off on the last four years. They don't believe they are personally responsible.

Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:14 AM:

Patrick, don't despair yet.

Firstly, you're not the only person who thinks that way. You and an army of millions came very close to toppling the current regime, in the most expensive, dirtiest, most negative election campaign in US history. Those other folks are mostly blinking and going through the same depression as you are. (It's depressing enough even for those of us who don't live in your country and don't vote, but I digress ...)

Secondly, this is a high water mark for Bush's movement conservativism. With a war on, and the knee-jerk patriotic rally-round-the-flag instinct that brings out, and with the manufactured moral panic over gay marriage and a campaign twice as expensive as his last one, he still barely scraped in. Whereas the democratic election machine is a clear decade behind the republican one in sophistication and organization, and still gave a wartime incumbent a panicky-close run.

From out here, it looks as if the movement conservatives are at full stretch -- and they've just been handed enough rope to hang themselves with, over the next four years.

The biggest threat (in the medium term) is the supreme court, and even that isn't a done deal.

So don't despair just yet ...

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:15 AM:

I hear you - I made the mistake of spending yesterday with a paleo, who made a rather fierce argument in support of poll challenges because it's more important to keep one felon from voting than to let thousands of citizens vote. He had, of course, heard lots of stories about Democrats doing illegal stuff, although when asked to narrow it down to an actual instance he went back to what was "reasonable to assume."

I feel gutpunched by the number of people who are willing to watch their children die or get mercury poisoning if the tradeoff is that they get to tell other people what to do with their genitals, but I knew they were out there.

I would have liked to have been able to avoid what's coming, but this thing was close enough down to the wire that if we weren't going to court, they would be going to court.

The votes aren't counted yet, and if we give up they won't be.

Pollyanna isn't my best role, I know, but I feel wierdly calm about all this.

$.05 and all that.

Susana ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:17 AM:

It seems like a place to go on from, from here. Not a good place, but a place of necessity.
In other words: stop, breathe, be good to yourself. And remember people care what you think.

Also (please feel free to berate me for my pessimism) it can always get much worse.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:18 AM:

We made it through the Civil War, the Great Depression, WWII, the Gilded Age and the Cold War.

We'll make it through this. There will be a price to pay. I expect to see Roe v. Wade overturned. I expect to see barriers between church and state dissolved, and prayer made mandatory in our schools and in our courts. I expect to see our power and status decline. We will cling more fiercely to the idea of American exceptionalism, the less justified it becomes. But we will make it through this. I just hope that we don't lose any cities in the process.

Charlie, I hope you are right, and that this is the high water mark for movement conservatism. I still think that there's hope in the face of adversity.

Ginger Stampley ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:26 AM:

An English friend of mine says this reminds her of the 1992 election in the UK, when the Tories were prepared for one-party rule. Now they're totally in the crapper.

I'm not a fan of the Nader strategy, and I think we need to organize with our mourning, but Charlie may be right. This may be their high water mark. There are so many things going against them--the long-term economic signs, and the question of how they will fight their war without a draft, for two--that even the "reluctant" Republicans may not be able to stomach them next time.

The question for us is "How do we help make sure it doesn't happen again?" and we just need a few days to think about it.

(And yes, I know we're not done counting, but I am prepared for the worst. I believe in the possibility of miracles, but I don't count on those I can't make my own self.)

Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:27 AM:

Oh, Patrick. I feel the same way.

I've been fighting the urge to delete my blog. At the very least, it's hard to imagine ever updating it again, because what would be the point? If everything we've said so far hasn't made a difference, what more could there be to say?

I find myself thinking a lot about miscarriage today. I don't know, it just seems like nothing could live in a body this hopeless and a country this determined to send itself to hell.

Fortunately, I think the baby is probably smarter than I am. Any day now, I should be feeling her move... and then I'll have to get over my sadness and start back to work, trying to make the world a fit place for her to live in. I ain't there yet, but I'm just having to trust in blind faith that I will get there.

Jeremy Osner ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:29 AM:

What Ron in Portland said -- Boy, I'm glad I don't have grandchildren. -- really got to me; what makes this election hit me so hard is that I have my daughter's future to think about. (Note -- I do not mean to dismiss anyone's reaction to the election who has no children; just talking personally here.)

What can I say to Sylvia about the country she lives in? When I was growing up, my parents raised me to be pretty interested in politics and a bit enthusiastic about democracy -- I guess they also instilled in me some cynicism about the choices democratic America ends up making, but only enough to counter-balance the enthusiasm and keep me from being silly.

But what can I say to Sylvia? "We live in a country where the majority of the population wants a right-wing theocracy." (She is not old enough yet to understand the concept of "right-wing theocracy" but I'm thinking down the road a couple.) I'm kind of at a loss here. Would welcome advice from others asking similar questions and what you are coming up with.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:32 AM:

I don't know if I want to live in this stupid country anymore. And I don't mean 'stupid' as a generic 'bad' adjective, I mean that the American voting public, a majority of them, are stupid. Or evil, or crazy.

Anybody in Canada want to put me up for a while until I find a job and get Landed Immigrant status? Just in case I decide to bail.

Mind you, I might move back in oh, 2009. But "it can't happen here" cost an awful lot of "assimilated" German Jews their lives, and I'm going to bail before a horde of Ann Coulter's squad pulls me from my house and beats me to death.

Andrew Gray ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:38 AM:

Ten months ago, some pundits were looking at the war, looking at the Democrats, casting their minds back and talking about 1972.

Last night might not have been good, but it certainly isn't a 1972. As I understand these things, it'd be a hell of a remarkable reaction to any administration that wasn't this one, in fact... but it's still demoralising.

The election is close, but it's not been called unless you're the White House. It's tight, but it's certainly not Florida.2000 - people know what they're trying to do, and they seem to be hitting the ground running. If it comes to pass, well, I suppose it comes to pass. But, as they say, then it will pass...

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:40 AM:

And Patrick, it was optimism like yours that gave us Pennsylvania, for example. We almost won, remember. Without optimists like you encouraging the rest of us, it wouldn't have been (as) close.

Sometimes the Good Fight is a march to victory.
Sometimes it's a delaying action.

The bad guys have more money, so the good guys have to try harder. Losing (even as important a cause as this one) doesn't mean the effort wasn't worthwhile. No one but Dubya himself really believes he has a mandate; also, we can look to taking back the Senate in 2006.

My previous comment was more despairing, and I am, actually, in reasonable fear for my life under this administration (queer Pagan socialist that I am). But I'm not. going. to. give. up.

Stubborn that way. Maybe stupid, but it's MY stupid.

Thomas Nephew ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:44 AM:

It was and is rational to cheerlead, to keep people from giving up early. It's rational to feel bad right now about the disappointing results (and they'll be disappointing even if Kerry miraculously runs the rest of the electoral college table -- he'll still have lost the popular vote by a big margin).

Rational people (and me besides) will continue to respect your opinions and check by often to see what you have to say.

Trite but well-meant advice: do something else for a while. Go for a hike, to an art museum, home to the folks, or whatever recharges you, and come back refreshed.

claire ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:48 AM:

I find myself fighting madly not to fall into the pit of dispair.

And as the mother of a thirteen year old boy I am having fond thoughts of friends in Canada and an extended holiday four years from now...

--claire (who Patrick once told to not to give up and who is trying not to)

James Angove ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:48 AM:

I give up. I don't know what else to say. I can't shake this feeling that this is where it all stops, that for the rest of my life, the United States will be decending into oligarchy and destruction; if Kerry couldn't win now, with all thats going on, its clear to me that there is no place for my ideals in this country.

Ted Barlow ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:49 AM:

Oh, Jesus, Rivka. I've felt pretty awful, but I started to cry at my desk when I read your post. Please, please don't say that again. We will get through this.

Alex Cohen ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:52 AM:

Fifty-five million people voted for Kerry. That is the most votes any Democrat has ever received for President. If 1.5% of the people had changed their mind, Kerry would have won the popular vote. That's even with the power of incumbency on Bush's side.

The movement is strong and getting stronger. We just haven't won yet. What, you thought this was going to be easy?

Can we get 1.5% of voters to change their minds? I think so.

Yeah, I'm disappointed, and pissed off, and I'll spend a few days or weeks sulking. It is, after all, National Novel Writing Month. I'll write my fucking novel, have a good cry, then get back in the game.

Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:56 AM:

It's the loss of the popular vote that I find so hideous, and so destructive of faith in democracy. To be British and looking at these results -- well I feel like the tin can that's been tied to the tail of an angry cat.

Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:56 AM:

The one thing that gave me some small bit of hope for the future was seeing Barack Obama talk (he gave a short interview on CNN in the wee hours). He seemed to me to have many of Clinton's best qualities (a razor sharp brain, ability to connect) together with a degree of dignity and humility that Clinton never had. I hope and believe that he's going to be President one day, and that in contrast to the current jerk, he's genuinely going to be a uniter, not a divider.

Carol ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:03 AM:

Last night (more accurately, around 5am this morning when I was finally able to sleep), I was eyeing Canada and NZ. This morning, I feel committed to living vividly, flamboyantly, and flagrantly up to our ideals. To rowing in the opposite direction through sheer force of refusing to accept a change in lifestyle and by disseminating the counter-opinion by any and all media necessary. By fighting every neo-con vote to come and speaking out against every executive decision and appointment. Because we don't have to slide into the gloom as other nations from way-before-Rome to now have done, because we have so many more tools to hand, and so much more information, and so many more ways to organise people and information and spread both far and wide.

And, I'm still waiting on Ohio.

Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:14 AM:

I've had my head between my knees, feeling such a fool for letting my hopes up yesterday. But the best response to this so far was posted by Fred Clark at Slacktivist last Saturday:

What if Bush wins (or, you know, gets reappointed)?
I will take comfort and inspiration from "the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem unto the residue of the elders which were carried away captives," as recounted in Jeremiah chapter 29:
Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. ... Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. ...
Yes, this is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: "Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them," declares the Lord. ... "For I know the plans I have for you ... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Dig in and plan for the long-term. Plant gardens. Plant trees. Pray for the peace of the city. Increase in number.

He also said to work to take back the Congress in '06, but I'm not there at this point.

Chris ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Kerry is conceding at 1 pm today. I am very discusted with my country right now.

Steven ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:18 AM:

I'm wondering where the Nader vote went. He got more than 3 million less this time. I don't think he was hurting the Dems like they claimed. It'd be interesting to see where those votes really went. Anyone with some perspective on this?

Jordin Kare ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:25 AM:

Mary Kay put in a solid 18-hour day yesterday for Election Protection in Phoenix -- starting at 5:30 in the morning before the polls opened, and ending up helping process the backlog of people in line when the polls closed until somewhere around 11:30 pm. I got to give her her first news on the results when she called me as she and Kate Yule were driving back to their hotel. Neither of them could think of sufficiently vile curse words.

I don't know when she'll be in shape to comment here -- maybe tonight, maybe much later. It's hit her all the harder since she fought as hard as she could, and did an enormous amount of work, and it made no difference in the end. (I've already told her "yes, it did make a difference," but it's a hard case to make). I do know she wondered specifically if this would make PNH reconsider his optimism about the American people....

As for me, well, I find it hard to believe the worst will happen (other than on the Supreme Court) but I've been wrong before...

I'm trying to find a song for comfort, but the best I can do is a bit of The Quest:

Oh, dark and deep was their van
That mocked my battle-cry
I could not miss my man
But I could not carry by.

Utterly whelmed was I
Flung under, horse and all
Merrily borne, the bugle horn
Answered the Warder's call

And here is my lance to mend
Here is my horse to be shot
Oh, yes, they were strong
The fight was long
But I paid as good as I got.

Janet Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:26 AM:

I've been spending the morning looking at web pages for Iceland, trying to find job listings, but my thanks to those of you who encourage digging in and keeping up the fight. Fight bad information with good information and hope for the future.

And wait on Ohio.

David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:29 AM:

Don't mourn, organize.

The DCCC might be a good place to start.

Terrier ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:32 AM:

I must confess that the two worst things about this are 1) The Bush supporters I know are absolutely the biggest dumbbunnies in the wide world 2) Our party failed to reach the kids.

I am so low...

The one promise I have extracted from those who will live after me is this: I want no one to stand over my corpse and say that I am better off dead - because that would be a damned lie!

You're always better off living - 'cause you can still fight!

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:33 AM:

oh well. my bad.

I thik I'll go cry now.

veejane ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:37 AM:

Being as I am a Red Sox fan, I can't help but paraphrase Bart Giamatti on the subject of failure:

"Fenway Park is the place to understand Calvinism in America, to learn that people sometimes fail and that failure can build character."

Next time elections roll around, we'll be quite the bunch of characters.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:44 AM:

There is nothing foolish about hope. Hope is the strength to do what is right, whether it succeeds or fails.

We've known all along that the next four years are going to be tough. The election isn't over yet. If Kerry wins, it will be the first step in a long and very difficult process of cleaning up the mess and healing the nation. If Bush wins, it just puts things off for another four years and means we'll have a bigger mess. Either way, we need to get more Americans to join the reality-based community. We can't all move to Canada, and we can't count on some other country invading us to restore democracy. It's up to us.

The Democratic opposition ran a great campaign. It was an extraordinary effort by all who were involved, and however it turns out, we should feel no regrets.

Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:49 AM:

Patrick, I voted for Kerry this time out, rather than sticking to my luxuriously idealistic guns: the first Democratic presidential candidate I've voted for since 1988. I did it mostly in spite of, yes, but I also had some strong brecauses, and one of those has been what you've said, and how you've said it.

For what it's worth, I don't feel defrauded.

I'm sitting here in the office, right now, and right now I'm trying to commiserate with my dayshift manager, and she's saying, for the first time in my life, I feel like the daily grind of living has kept me from what's important. For the first time, I really feel like I need to get out and get involved. It may be little; it may be late; but it's out there.

For what it's worth.

Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:50 AM:

Fifty-five million people voted for Kerry But more people voted for Bush. And even more than that were satisfied enough with the status quo not to vote at all.
And that's a status quo that perpetrated Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
Dave Johnson has a particularly cynical view this morning, that I'm rapidly growing to appreciate.

What *are* we optimistic about? Massachusetts voters didn't fall for anti-gay rhetoric, even though eleven other states did?

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:57 AM:

Henry - I have hope, but I don't think an Obama candidacy is the place to put it. In a country where people turned out in droves to prove how much they hate gays, how much chance does a black man have of winning national office?

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:02 PM:

This too shall pass.

My dad, who is so utterly a finance lawyer, says it like this:

"It'll either get better, or we'll all die."

The question is, which comes first.

Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:02 PM:

Oh yeah, we can also feel good about Obama's election, but that was a given.

Any other good news?

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:10 PM:

First the bad news. When I called my mother from London and she told me that Bush had won the popular vote, she added "And this confirms my suspicion that Americans are assholes." And this is my mother. No matter how hard I try to convince people that a good half of Americans are more horrified than we over here could ever possibly be, in the end that is how America looks today in the face of the world.

Now the good news. Well, sort of. What I wanted to say is: we never thought that democracy was magic, that it yields inevitably the best result. People, invested with the sacred duty to choose their own representative and leaders, can and do fuck up. As a matter of fact, they do that more often than not. It's not a good system - it's just the least bad we could invent. It is still the only one that leaves us some hope. We knew that going in, didn't we? And the fact that you work hard and hope does not give you any kind of compensatory guarantee. We are part of the reality-based community, and we know, we have always known, that reality hurts. We will not abdicate it for that.

And: I spent the several hours flying and waiting reading an extremely interesting, now terribly relevant, and surprisingly upbeat book, which has very interesting things to say about why people so consistently vote to shoot themselves in the foot: What's the matter with Kansas? by Tommy Franks. It argues, after having amply discussed why the right has managed to hitchike the working-class vote, that if the right won it the left lost it, and it would do well to reflect on that.

And: this morning, I still think my American friends are the best people in the world. Thank you for trying. Keep trying. There is nothing else to do, really.

Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:12 PM:


I am tired and scared, but then, I've been tired and scared for a while now. And because I am the parent of a 14 year old who is tired and scared for the first time, I could not afford to despair this morning. Just getting the girl out the door and off to school required that I remind her (and myself) that we came =close,= and that our job now is to constitute part of the Loyal Opposition--loyal to our idea of what this country is and can and should be.

I thought, 30+ years ago when Nixon was re-elected, that my country could not possibly have been so stupid, that the election was The End of All Life as We Know It. Since then I've thought the same thing several times. This was Julie's first time thinking the same thoughts, so I had to remind her, and doing so helped me remind myself.

Despair is a perfectly reasonable short-term response to the outcome of this election. Despair is a perfectly reasonable short-term response to this President. And you and Teresa have cheered me and given me courage in the last couple of weeks when I felt like lying down and letting the snow cover me... You're entitled to some rest. But then (I'm sorry, but it's true) you're going to get back up and start trudging along. I don't think either of you have it in you to give up, and in a sense I'm trying to live up to you.

So I'm going to take my laptop out and work on the book, and make dinner for my kids, and keep in touch with all the like-minded people I know, and try to find ways to help turn my country back in the direction of honor and sanity. I just can't think of doing anything else.

Maureen Kincaid Speller ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:14 PM:

Patrick, I feel your pain, truly. I look at GWB and the Republican party, and I wonder what it is Republicans see that I can't, I wonder what is so good about right-wing theocracy, about legislating against same-sex civil marriage, about condoning those who believe abortion is murder and that abortion doctors are therefore fair game, and so on. Who believe that arbitrarily invading countries somehow makes them safer. And I look at my country, and at Tony Blair, happily trotting along in GWB's wake, tail wagging as he follows his friend, and I fear for my country too.

Mourn today Ė because it's right to mourn for the loss of a chance to do things differently, and make a better world; I mourn too, for though it wasn't my country's election, the result affects all of us. But then, tomorrow get up and start fighting again, like we've fought before, you, me, everyone, to make it better next time.

But today, dear god, I'm angry.

Del ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:20 PM:

Patrick, I just got off the phone talking to Ken MacLeod (in office hours, yet, but I needed to hear a friendly voice today) and he said he'd been reading your blog.

It reminded me of four years ago when I scolded you not to be such a drama queen about the 2000 election, and sure Bush was a vicious dummy, but it would only be four years and how bad could that be? You could look forward to electing a healing Democratic president one fine November day in 2004.

I feel like such a prick today.

I certainly don't feel like telling anybody to buck up; I was bending poor Ken's ear about the things I was pondering doing next, starting with cancelling any planned trips across the Atlantic, through conspicuously boycotting all goods or services with any Stars-and-Stripes style branding, to whatever I could do to distance my country from the USA over the next few years and nestle it closer to the bosom of the EU.

Maybe it's too early to be talking like this, and I'll have changed my mind in another few hours, but right now I can't see any interpretation of the result that comforts me. Either the vote is fake, and America is no longer a democracy, or it's real, and Americans democratically chose the architects of Abu Ghraib.

Del ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:24 PM:

Oh, and Kip, I keep saying this, but the original "City On a Hill" sermon by John Winthrop wasn't a boast. It was a warning.

Ken Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:27 PM:

I freely admit that the invalidation of Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution is more daunting than the election results--especially as I doubt I'm the only one who sees cause and effect there (OH, MO, especially).

I spoke with about 100-150 people in Ohio yesterday. Most had already voted; no one--and I asked, even though it wasn't on the script--said they had had trouble at the polls.

We got out the vote haphazardly. The people who took over my ancestral party and turned it into what it is got out the vote based on over twenty years of organization and techniques leveraged from self-haters such as Terry Dolan. This is not necessarily a permanent gap.

Quo Vadimus? The real issues and the real scandals are still there, and 2006 is only a recession away. The battle is lost, not the war.

BSD ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:40 PM:

On the brighter side, we've picked up two (and possibly four) seats in the NY Senate, and widened even further our domination of the Assembly. Between Spitzer and Chucky, we've got an embarrasment of riches for Governor in two, and Mike's willing submission to the much-hated-by-NYC Bush is NOT going to help him next year.

Is this what it was like, living in Richmond ca. 1860?

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:42 PM:

I know that, Del, but that's not how it's used now. We are the Shining City on the Hillô, and everybody except us can see that the hill is a dung heap and the pavement is made of skulls.

But how about the future? Sarah's two now. Should we raise her to be selfish, ignorant and contemptuous of others, so she can fit in this brave new world?

Yesterday, I stopped the car to give money to a Salvation Army bellringer, and Sarah said, "I no like help the poor." If I can just keep her at this level, she'll be just fine!

This morning I felt guilty for bringing her to this country. First time that's happened.

Guy Matthews ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:46 PM:

*sigh* I remember 2000, when Bush's appointment was controversial but ultimately seemed like a relatively harmless idiot with a reasonably competent staff being put in power. Now I worry about what this maniac has in store for the world and who in hades actually voted for him...

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:48 PM:

Hi Patrick. Today it sucks to be us. As I told Jordin I fought as hard as I could and it didn't make a dammed bit of difference. I have no idea when or how I'll get over this. With those people appointing the next 4 (at least) Supreme Court justices I see no way out of this hole.

I've only scanned the comments above, but someone said something about the kids. We did in fact reach the kids. Some of those kids I helped process through the polls last night stood in line nearly 5 hours to vote. It was obvious that most of them were voting Democrat. (We had to tell them to take off their Kerry buttons inside the poll.) I haven't checked out enough news this morning and was incommunicado inside the polls from 6-midnight yesterday so I don't have any firm ideas who we didn't get, but probably mostly people like my family who just don't want believe, or don't dare believe what we've been telling them.

I gotta go to the airport now. Apparently I'm still feeling at least defiant as I've got my W with the red circle and slash button smack in the middle of my chest. (Thanks Patrick) Y'all be good.


Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:55 PM:

All I can think, over and over again:

It's morning in Mordor.

Sajia ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:55 PM:

YOU want to move to Canada? Where are WE Canucks going to move to?

Janice Eisen ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 12:57 PM:

I live in Wisconsin, and I've spent months working my ass off here. And it looks like we carried the state, which was about all we could hope to do (though at the tail end of the evening they had us die-hards calling Nevada voters). And I feel like an idiot because I let myself believe we were going to win, because it wasn't till after midnight that reality started closing in. And all I can think is, was there more that I could have done?

How I can I raise my children in a country that would elect this man, and elect him by such a margin (tinfoil-hat theories aside)?

Don't mourn, organize, people say. But today my eyes are filled with tears. Maybe tomorrow or the next day I'll be able to think about regrouping.

Terry O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 01:02 PM:

The more I see, the more I am reminded of one of Jonn Brunner's lesser apocalyptic novels, "The Stone That Never Came Down". The world was in terrible shape: political unrest throughout Europe, the Troubles in Belfast had migrated to striking workers in Glasgow, bands of Christian hoodlums burning gays, with an extremely conservative theocratic movement ("Moral Pollution") supporting a corrupt autocratic British government. Its almost a complete prediction of the current state of affairs.

Unfortunately, as with most of Brunner's apocalyptic novels, the SF element that resolves the crisis (VC, a brain-enhancing drug) isn't on the horizon. However, the 'net that was the center point of "Shockwave Rider" may serve as a replacement.

Cynthia Gonsalves ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 01:16 PM:

Way up near the top of this thread, Laura Roberts reminded us of this quote:

"Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose, more proud the spirit as our strength lessens."

I'm sure Graydon can provide the original Anglo-Saxon, but I think I've found my new *.sig line and my mantra to get me through this dark time.

I've been running with the Ben Franklin quote about people who give up necessary liberty for the sake of safety deserving neither as my personal *.sig line ever since 9/11/01, but with the election results confirming that the majority of my fellow citizens who bothered to vote are willing to do just that, I think it's time for a change.

See you on the barricades, after we've done some necessary grieving.

Tom S ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 01:33 PM:

I was reading Meteor Blades's comments on Kos (also picked up on SmirkingChimp), and the 560-plus comments it generated. It's worth the time to read.

One observation MB made keeps sticking with me: That divisions in America have been redefined along secular vs. religious lines. And that 51% of the voting citizenry are willing to line up behind a leader who trumpets and champions a faith-based interpretation of reality.

MB noted that the Democratic Party as currently constituted should go the way of the Dodo. It's worth noting that the Republican Party has mutated; the GOP isn't the party of Eisenhower, or Nixon, any longer -- one reason why so many Republican politicians who came up through the 'old' GOP are very uneasy with Bush.

The GOP claims to represent traditional Republican values -- fiscal conservatisim, "small government", self-reliance over social programs and lower taxes. The 'new' GOP is in fact a marriage between the christian Right (They're 'christian' with a small "c"), NAC-style neoconservatives, and corporate interests who naturally gravitate towards anyone whos behavior promises more expansion and more profit (as of the moment, the DJIA has shot up 150 points on news of Bush's "victory").

Through Ralph Reed and Karl Rove, they've discovered how to exploit the divisions in America for their political benefit -- religious vs. secular, conservative vs. liberal, patriotic vs. 'radical'.

The idea is to walk a path to power, and maintain it, by whatever means necessary. Their agenda has nothing to do with "traditional" Republicanisim: They want to reshape American culture at home, and project it abroad. That culture is fundimentalist, a religious-neocon oligarchy, and it's mission is to "spread freedom" -- as defined by the Reeds, the Robertsons and Roves, the Scalias and Thomases, the Wolfowitzes and Perles.

These people possess an arrogance whose blindness to its own evil is stupefying. They are the people who will shape our immediate future, and that of our children, our friends, our families, and people in other countries who have the same aspirations and desire to live peacefully as we do -- but who may be sacrificed in the name of "freedom". This is what it's like to live through history as opposed to reading about it. (I'm writing this as I hear of Kerry's concession, so this isn't my most hopeful moment.)

America has become something I no longer recognize.

Meteor Blades wrote about making a radical change in the Democratic Party's leadership in order to challenge the christian Right-Neocons. I don't know if that will be enough. I don't believe people in America understand what just happened with this election; what kind of pact with the devil the people voting for Bush who "just weren't sure" about Kerry have made.

On a political level, the christian-Neocons have created a new paradigim in how they've appealed to people to support them -- and that these same principled born-agains will do anything -- lie, steal, cheat, threaten -- to win, because they believe with a perfect faith that god wants them to. It's why Bush never admits to making a mistake -- because his actions are divinely inspired, and god makes no errors. Nor do the people he works through.

Trying to appeal to American voters through traditional liberal currents of thought (social programs, humanist perspectives, support for labor, progressive ideals) when faced with religious fundimentalisim and the tactics of fascists may not work.

There's a line from a Leonard Cohen poem that's going around and around in my head: "I believe in a perfect faith in all the history I remember, but it's getting harder and harder to remember much history." I don't know what will happen, or what we will do, but the old perspectives and reliance on an innate goodness in human nature may not be givens any longer.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 01:34 PM:

Sympathies, Patrick.

Dave Trowbridge ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 01:51 PM:

So Chthulhu takes his seat in the Lincoln Memorial, and we all get to be part of a political experiment to prove the truth of Lord Acton's axiom.

Mencken said it well:

"Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard."

Bend over, America.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 01:57 PM:

Patrick, I hope you will read what amp said. It made me feel better.

I know you've been fighting longer than I have, and I understand how you feel and why you feel that way. You can retire from the fray with honour if you choose to, though I hope you will feel differently in a little while. In any case, please know that I am more angry than sad, and I have only just begun to fight.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:01 PM:

I could throw my hands up in the air and say to hell with it. But the problem with that is it will only make me more miserable. I'd be lying if I said I didn't care anymore. So, I can either let myself slide into inaction, indifference, silence, and hope to numb myself to the self-inflicted pain that would surely follow. Or I can be true to what's important to me in the face of defeat. Personally, I'd rather admit I care and scream the truth than silence myself and pretend it doesn't matter.

I have no optimistic words to offer. Only the choice between hard honest work and easy self-deception. One offers the pain of defeat and the other offers the pain of lying to myself.

But then, the operators manual for democracy never said it was going to be easy or painless.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:05 PM:

And I draw your attention to Josh Marshall's comments, who I think "gets it".

John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:07 PM:

Okay, guys. Have your moment of loss and depression. It's cathartic. You'll feel better.

When you're done, the US will still be here. You can give it to the people you fear or you can fight for it to be what you want it to be.

No skipping over the border to Canada. No languid wallows in pity. No throwing up of hands, saying "well, I did what I could," and holing yourself up in your study. This is officially a long-term project.

There are some luxuries you can no longer afford. Despair is one of them. Mourn, quickly, and then for God's sake get a grip.

It's time to start working like you are in the early days of a better nation. Because, if you do, they will be.

Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:10 PM:

I got plenty of despair, but I got nothing to add to the despair
you-all have got.

Here's what I've got beyond that. (Not much beyond, but...)

I've gotten through the past four years thinking "That isn't *me*." It
was a bunch of power-mad venal fools, and yes, they had a lot of
Americans on their side, but they didn't have *America* on their side,

Now they unquestionably have America. I don't have the luxury of
saying my elected government doesn't represent me. Everything we do
from here on out is being done in my name. Last week I could deny it
-- maybe that was self-delusion -- but I can't now. We're all the
torturers and liars and defrauders now. Oh, and gay-bashers.

This is what I keep telling myself I can't forget. I know I am also a
fundamentally lazy shit, and I don't know what I will wind up doing
about it. I *do* know what I'll be if I do nothing.

(I'd say I'm not in a good state to decide what to do -- all I *want*
to do is curl up and play video games -- but that's laziness, not

Emma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:16 PM:

Patrick, I started writing something earlier and could not get through at "preview" so if it shows up at some point, please delete it?
Please bear with me, because I have to tell this to someone. I went to bed last night and dreamed that I was standing in the middle of a great ruined city; and I was crying for all that was lost. And I heard a voice that said, quietly and sadly, "quos Deus vult perdere, prius dementat".
I've had the jimjams and the jeebies all day...until I read some of the comments in this thread. There are babies being born, and gardens being planted, and peaceful revolutions being planned. It might just be a great time to be alive.
And another thing. Take it from someone who's lost a whole country already (or gave it up, but the effect is the same): at the worst of times, it's the people that matter. What was that line in Barrayar?: My nation is not a place, it's the people. WE ARE A NATION. ALL OF US, TOGETHER. Don't forget that, please.

Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:35 PM:

Brace yourselves:
Bill Bennett is calling the election results a mandate for Bush to pursue the culture war.* :(

Jim Gardner ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:47 PM:

One has bouts of numbness.

One has bouts of anger.

One has bouts of Schadenfreude. ("I can't wait till everything falls down around their ears. Let me live long enough to see them realize they've been dealing with the devil.")

One has bouts of gallows humor. ("Hey, so this is how we get all those science fiction futures where the U.S. has broken into a dozen grotty banana republics!")

One has bouts of sympathy for those who, one way or another, will be destroyed by this.

One has more bouts of numbness.

But let me say, as a Canadian and (perhaps) a representative of the non-U.S. world, we still know that Bush isn't America's whole story. We know the U.S. isn't entirely mad, or stupid, or blind, or any of the other easy accusations that sometimes spring to mind. It just had a stroke in one hemisphere of its brain; the other hemisphere (the strong logical hemisphere) is still working and will someday learn to compensate for the stroke's damage.

At the risk of being glib, maybe the lesson is that hope shouldn't be "Tomorrow will fix everything." Hope can only be "Today we'll fix a little."

But some todays are harder than others.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:50 PM:

I'm buying a bunch of liquor and casino stock.

On bad days, I'm going to picture Bill Bennet sitting on a stool in a smoky indian casino, slamming down complimentary warm beers and shoving $20 bills into a slot machine, thus earning me money.

Peter Hiltz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:51 PM:

For circuses and bread
the population has been led
the TV network known as "Fox"
claims real life is on the box
They do not want to have to think
and do not know how close the brink
the chains they forge, each heavy link
they bring us all disaster

Their eyes are closed
They will not heed
The cries of fear
The cries of need
the world divided,
us and them
a simple world
they can condemn

"We are a people under God"
but this, all know, is just facade
They do not love, save their own group
to help another, would not stoop
"We won the vote, democracy"
"imposing our theocracy"
"allows us our hypocrisy"
which history calls "facist"

Their eyes are closed
They will not heed
The cries of fear
The cries of need
the world divided,
us and them
a simple world
they can condemn

This leads, as history has shown
to acts, which later, all bemoan
And they cannot the slide conceive,
the future where all children grieve
But still the day will come at last
When others will this crew surpass
leaving the sins that they amass
behind and then forgotten

November 3, 2004

Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 02:57 PM:

John Scalzi, you are my fucking hero.

If John Kerry was the last best hope for the Republic, the only thing between us and ruin, then maybe it wasn't worth saving in the first place. I don't believe that, though. And neither do you.

This is not The End. This isn't even the beginning of the end. This is a setback and a loss and a terrible disappointment. But until they actually put me in the oven, I intend to live as though this is my goddamn country too. It still is, last time I looked. "The days have gone down in the West," but there are a lot of battles still worth fighting.

Yes, a majority of Americans are ignorant, or misguided, or scared, or just plain dumb - a pretty narrow majority. Remember, all you who have spent the last four years being firebrands and rabble-rousers and beacons of progressive thought: nearly half the country was with you last night. Don't you fucking dare turn your back on them now. It wasn't enough to win, but I bet it's enough to do something else, now. This is a smart bunch. I bet someone can think of something.

Remember, America's had empire before. We beat them back then, and we didn't even have the internet. We can do it again. "Tell it to Vaclav Havel," indeed.

Forth Eorlingas! Death! Death! Death! Death! Death!

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:02 PM:

Here's the way I feel: I wasn't expecting Kerry to save us. He had bought into way too much of the Rovian discourse. What I was hoping is it would end some of the Bush administration's worst excesses. I wasn't hoping for much else. OK, so that isn't going to happen. And Bush is now nolonger running for re-election, so probably the gloves will come off.

The Democratic party is much healthier than it was four years ago. Bush squeaked through with a slight majority under circumstances in which he had a huge advantage. Bush winning is just as much of a disaster as it seems, but I just don't feel depressed about it. Bush was not able to sell his political agenda to many more than bought into it four years ago.

The Democratic party needs to take its lemons and find out how to make lemonade. As for the rest of us, we need to carry on with the good work we've been doing. It was very close. We almost pulled it off.

Bob Stein ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:06 PM:

America voted for Bush because electing Carry would be an admission of guilt - guilt for more than 15,000 civlian deaths in Iraq, for the American and Iraqi soldiers who have been sacrificed for Bush's politic games, for the destruction of world peace. They are willing to accept reduced freedom and a staggering deficit that will haunt this country's economy for decades. All for the illusion of safety.

I expect the actual price we pay for this blindness will be terrible and bloody. The lone act of terrorism at the World Trade Center will become just one of many as the victims of our Nation's greed and brutality fight back in the only way they can. And sadly, we will deserve all of it.

Jim Gardner ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:08 PM:

On the other hand, I just had a thought. With Bush still around, there's a chance of finally impeaching the bastard. Good and hard.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:13 PM:

a majority of Americans are ignorant, or misguided, or scared, or just plain dumb - a pretty narrow majority

Dan: yes, and three out of those four afflictions can be cured, and I am not sure I believe in "dumb". Anyone can learn; well OK, nearly anyone.

See the fat guy on that other barricade over there? That's me.

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:25 PM:

I'm listening to a song, the title of which seems appropriate:

"If I'm Gonna Sink (I Might As Well Go to the Bottom)"

(Performed by Neko Case, from Touch My Heart - A Tribute to Johnny Paycheck)

I'm not sure if it describes my feelings right now, or the motivation of the electorate yesterday.

Glen Fisher ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:26 PM:

Andrew Plotkin spake:

I've gotten through the past four years thinking "That isn't *me*." It
was a bunch of power-mad venal fools, and yes, they had a lot of
Americans on their side, but they didn't have *America* on their side,

They still don't. They have half of America on their side. Much better odds.

I don't have the luxury of saying my elected government doesn't represent me.

Why not? If you voted, and voted for anyone but Bush, they don't represent you. They will claim to represent you, to be sure--they've been claiming that for four years now--but you're the one who decides whether they actually do represent you.

Everything we do from here on out is being done in my name.

If you voted, and voted for anyone but Bush, without your permission.

Last week I could deny it -- maybe that was self-delusion -- but I can't now. We're all the torturers and liars and defrauders now. Oh, and gay-bashers.

Not me. Bush and his flunkies are, but not me. Half of America may be, but I'm not in that half.

(I'd say I'm not in a good state to decide what to do -- all I *want*
to do is curl up and play video games -- but that's laziness, not

Denial is a normal part of coping with loss. Don't kick yourself for going through it.

I don't think anyone is in a good state to decide what to do just now; the calamity is too fresh, and the important battles aren't yet clear (nor even, in some cases, who the enemy is). Mourning remains to be done. For now, I think Teresa's "Last Days" advice remains valid: Be of good cheer, hard though that is just now. The election's (mostly) over. The fight isn't. It's just moved to another battlefield. And keep in mind, point 5:

Bush & Co. are really good at making people feel crushed. If you feel crushed, it isnít because the world is an awful place; itís because youíre picking up Radio Bush. Itís temporary.

It's just that "temporary" is going to be a lot longer than people had hoped.

aphrael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:27 PM:

John Scalzi - thank you! That was the most uplifting thing i've read since the election; a great gift of a vision of hope for which I am deeply indebted.

Patrick - i've spent most of the morning despairing in one form or another, in some sense spoiling for a fight just to get the energy out. We lost, and we lost badly, and it's hard for me to summon the courage to believe that we'll ever win again. And yet, at the same time ... if communism could fall, and apartheid, then this too can pass. If we make it happen.

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:39 PM:

Now they unquestionably have America. I don't have the luxury of
saying my elected government doesn't represent me. Everything we do
from here on out is being done in my name. Last week I could deny it
-- maybe that was self-delusion -- but I can't now. We're all the
torturers and liars and defrauders now. Oh, and gay-bashers.

I completely disagree. Or at least, I don't think that is any more true today than it was yesterday. It's not this one election that makes the difference.

This elected government does not represent me. This stuff is not being done in my name. Yes, I benefit from living in America (until my luck runs out.) But I'm not a torturer or a gay-basher, and I try not to lie.

We've often been told that "America is the greatest country in the world." For some people, that seems to mean, "We're the greatest because we can kick anybody else's butt."

Other people seem to think that America is somehow more democratic than other countries, that we took out the patent on "freedom" and "liberty." How many people on this board believe that? It's not true. It never was.

We've also been told, "If you don't like it, leave." If you have any criticisms, leave. If you dare to state that America is not perfect, get out. People say that as if they have the right to decide who stays and who leaves. As if they own this country. Personally, I don't think they do.

Do we need to believe that we live in the greatest country on earth? Do we need to believe that Americans are somehow special? Is that really helpful right now?

Or can we just be ordinary people, who make mistakes, and keep trying to do the right thing?

The sad fact is that everyone who voted for Bush believed they were doing the right thing. Yes, they were stupid, crazy, lied to, whatever. Yes, it sucks that we have to share a country with them (until we secede?) But that's the problem with democracy, as someone pointed out above.

All you can do is whatever seems right to you. The only path you can walk is the one right in front of you. Dreams of perfection only get in the way.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:40 PM:

"And yet I swear this oath--America will be!"

Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:47 PM:

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan wrote: "What's the matter with Kansas? by Tommy Franks."

Tommy Franks is Bush's pet general who ran the Iraq invasion.

I think you mean Thomas Frank.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 03:51 PM:

Dreams of perfection only get in the way.

I respectfully disagree. My dreams light my way.

Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:02 PM:

Patrick, I don't have a lot of solace to offer you. Not today.

I worked against Nixon, and didn't think things could get worse.
I worked against Reagan, and never imagined that they could ever find a less qualified candidate.
Then they came up with Bush - and when he didn't win, they short-circuited the Constitution to install him anyway.
Now the electorate, in its wisdom, has ratified all of the disasters that Bush has inflicted upon us over the last four years.

As SF fans, we have the unfortunate ability to extrapolate from current trends. Despite that, we still have to carry on, and to carry on with the belief that the Republic will survive.

The exit polls (there's a long piece in today's Washington Post) carry a clue about what happened to us:

8% of the voters said that "Religious Faith" was the most important attribute for their candidate - - and they voted 91:8 Bush:Kerry.

7% of the voters said that "intelligence" was the most important attribute - - and they voted 91:8 for Kerry over Bush.

It's a neat bit of symmetry that would too pat for a fictional telling. But I think this explains a lot of what happened. Our job will be to encourage a political culture that actually values intelligence in its leaders, and it's going to be the work of a lifetime.

And the forum you provide here is a start. So thank you.

NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:07 PM:

Patrick, you're tired. It's been a very emotional few months (/years), and today has been a crushing disappointment. So rest. Rest until you feel able. (And you will feel able, trust me.) Then take advantage of whatever opportunities will arise.

But until them, rest.

Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:13 PM:

John Scalzi: thanks, I needed that.

Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:14 PM:

I don't whether I'm living in Germany circa 1934 or the end of "I Claudius".

I'm depressed.

MD≤ ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:21 PM:

De-lurking and all those sort of things...

Patrick (I take the liberty to call you by your first name, that's the greatest sign of respect I can think of right now), just reading yours and Rivka's post almost had me cry, so I want you, and all the nice blog people who'll come here to know this: in these time of growing, mostly blind and ignorant, anti-americanism, we all need you.
For when people won't be swayed over by a valid, cold, argument, the warmth of human voices is enough to make them think, and when I hear my French colleagues around starting about "those stupid americans", when I hear my own African cousins perpetuate the fallacious myth of Bin Laden being a hero standing against American greed, I can bring them here and have them look and realise how much more there is to this land than what they've been led to think.
If good people like you give in to despair, now that those giving birth and breath to the cliche have won a batlle, however decisive it may seem, then all will be over, for it will really have become their America.

Every little star may think it is not much, lost in outer darkness, but it still is a sun for those who can get close enough.

Thanks for all you've done, and all you may still do.

PS: re-reading this, I feel awkward and out of place, but still I think I had to say it.

Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:34 PM:

I was born and raised in Australia and was a draft-age student living in Sydney in 1972. In November, 1972, Richard Nixon was re-elected. Even in Australia, his re-election was a devastating blow.

Later that month, I was unlucky in the draft lottery, and realized I'd be in the next cohort drafted into the Australian army. I decided I'd had enough of Australia and its army and its right-wing government, and arranged to move to Canada.

November 1972 was a far darker month than November 2004 is likely to be, at least for me.

In December 1972, there was an Australian election. The good guys, astonishingly, won. Within two weeks, they announced that they were pulling the Aussie army out of Vietnam. I decided I wanted out anyway (and besides, the draft was still in place). I moved to Canada in March 1973, and literally while I was in transit the Australian draft was abolished. Had I stayed in Australia, I wouldn't have had to report.

Moving to Canada was the right thing to do. Sure, the "right" people won the 1972 Aussie election. But a large portion of the Australian population still supported the government that had wanted to draft me and send me to fight in a war I didn't agree with. I wanted nothing to do with those people.

I can't imagine living in the US right now, knowing that tens of millions of Americans have just voted for Bush. If I was living in the US today, I'd be making plans to leave. Who wants to live in the company of the people who just re-elected that president?

Sure, it makes sense to try to regain the House in 2006 and work towards electing someone sensible in 2008. Sort of. But, you know.... Richard Nixon left office in 1974, and the Democrats won the presidency in 1976. But by 1980, Ronald Reagan was president. The good guys' victories don't last very long. (And I was never comfortable with the notion of Carter as president anyway.)

I'm 50 years old. In those 50 years, there have been just 11 years where the US has had a president I'd be comfortable with: 1961-63 and 1993-2000. I don't like those odds too much.

(I have to admit that I've never actually had anyone I've voted for become Canadian prime minister. But I've never seen the equivalent of Nixon or Bush elected here either. Mulroney came close.)

If I was living in the US right now -- especially if I was in my 20s and could leave relatively easily -- I'd be outta there.

It worked for me. Your mileage may vary.

John Scalzi ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:35 PM:

Madeleine, et al:

You're welcome. I know you'd do the same for me.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:45 PM:

If I was living in the US right now ... I'd be outta there.

A young reaction to not getting what you want is to take your ball and go home (or run away from home, as the case may be). An older reaction would be to be to not get what you want and yet stay true to what you want.

Democracy as an evolutionary process can only survive if both winners and losers remain and work towards what they want.

Put another way, this is my country too, damnit!

Laura Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:47 PM:

Dreams of perfection only get in the way.

--I respectfully disagree. My dreams light my way.

Well, if perfection for you is something pleasant and attainable, rather than a stick to beat yourself with, then I am sincerely happy for you.

I didn't mean that dreams, period, get in the way. But my dreams tend to be about comfort and happiness, not perfection.

Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:54 PM:

I feel like the Black Night in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. First, they cut off one arm, but we fight on. Then, they cut off the other arm, but continue kicking. Finally, we are nothing but a head, yelling, "Come back here, you coward," and getting the response, "What are you going to do, bleed on me?"

For all of you who've said, We'll make it through, we've been through this, that, and the other thing, and we made it through those, I'm sorry, but you are wrong. Each this, that, or the other caused profound changes, many of them very bad. Do you remeber a time before the War Against Some Drugs? Under Bush, do you really expect it to go away?

We fought for abortion rights, and got it, 40 years ago. Despite everything, we were never able to solidify it into a solid win, it's always been a fragile compromise. What happens when Bush appoints a very right-wing, "pro-life" justice? I'm not real sanguine. Likewise sodomy laws.

Meanwhile, Iraq is going to get more expensive, and more deadly. I figure there won't be a draft -- it'll get outsourced. Which makes it prohibitively expensive, but just remember, the deficit is our friend. *eye roll* By most standard evaluations, the US is in serious trouble. If they followed their own rules, the IMF wouldn't lend us money. It's not impossible that we could pull an Argentina. Read Paul Krugman.

In the last 20 years, I've lost so many civil rights I can't count them. Did we "get through" Reagan? Yes, but it cost. Clinton? Not too bad on the economy, but awful hard on civil rights. Bush, first 4 years? So much worse than I had imagined 4 years ago.

I said before the election, we have to fight, and if necessary, we need to learn to fight without hope. I stand by that. I have no hope, but for at least as long as I live here, I will fight. I just wish I was Vaclav Havel, because I don't know how much longer I can keep this up.\

It's going to get worse before it gets better. A lot depends on how much worse it gets. We've lost an arm, but we're still fighting. But if they cut off another arm, and a leg... I don't want to get to the point where the only thing we can do is bleed on them.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:58 PM:

I'd like to add my bit of hero-worship, John Scalzi.

And denial is a real good tactic. It's a much less good strategy, and it's an absolutely TERRIBLE lifestyle.

Words do not exist to describe how bad it is as a foreign policy.

Greg Ioannou ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:59 PM:

A young reaction to not getting what you want is to take your ball and go home (or run away from home, as the case may be). An older reaction would be to not get what you want and yet stay true to what you want.

There comes a time when you realize that you are never going to get what you want if you continue on your present course -- that your present situation provides no futures that you are willing to live. When you reach that realization, it is time to change your situation. You move, or change careers, or leave your spouse, or whatever.

Democracy as an evolutionary process can only survive if both winners and losers remain and work towards what they want.

But doesn't there come a time when you realize that the people you are sharing a democracy with want things that are such anathema to you that you need to find a place where you fit in better?

Put another way, this is my country too, damnit!

That's the key. I reached a point in 1972 where I realized "these are not my people -- I want nothing to do with them." At that point it was easy to let go. Let them have the country and do whatever they wanted with it. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with them.

I left in search of a place where I could feel safer and feel a bit less like an alien. I found it, sort of. (Too bad about the wretched weather here!)

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 04:59 PM:

Greg - You're from a Commonwealth country, so you have more mobility. I confess that I actually took a quick peek at the Irish immigration site, only to discover that I don't qualify as an Irish national because at least one parent has to gave been an Irish national before you are born. (My father would have qualified, as both his parents were Irish born.)

But, in the final analysis, I can't see myself emigrating unless I'm literally fleeing for my life. We Americans are stay-at-homes in that regard.

Still, it woud have been nice to have a green book with a harp on it to go along with the blue book with an eagle. Any EU gals out there looking for a marriage of convenience? ;-)

Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 05:00 PM:

"And yet I swear this oath--America will be!"

Uh, will be what?

I'm probably demonstrating great ignorance, here. Presumably the quote marks mean that somebody famous said it.

Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 05:00 PM:

I'm ready to bleed on them, Lydy. Literally, if need be. Since I'm queer, that should scare the sht out of them, ignorant louts that they are.

Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 05:02 PM:

Still here, in the U.S., after voting.

Still have diapers to change and bottles to wash.

Even diapers are a start--my kid is so going to be a voter in 17 years and change if I have anything to say about it.

Still fightin'. Admittedly for rather domestic and housetrapped values of fightin'.

Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 05:24 PM:

I'm ready to bleed on them, Lydy.

Didn't do the Black Knight much good. Besides, arguing by analogy is like sailing with a bedsheet. Or something. My analogy-generator isn't up to snuff today.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 05:40 PM:

Uh, will be what?

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 05:56 PM:

Seen on Boing Boing:

"What Would a Dumbass Republican Do?"

Eric Lawrence sez:
"My friend Rich Malley, creator of Thot4ThDay (a daily humor email, over 8 years and running), sends these dead-on thoughts:"


Dear Friends:

If the shoe was on the other foot, What Would a Dumbass Republican Do?

* Get depressed?

* Get down?

* Feel defeated?

* Go away?

* Refrain from being an obnoxious pain in the ass, 24/7?

* Temper his sense of righteous entitlement?

* Mute his howls of indignation?

* Question his convictions?

Hell, no!

Here's what a Dumbass Republican would do:

* Act like a winner in a world full of deluded losers.

* Refuse to let the "facts on the ground" deter his belief in what he's got coming.

* Drown out polite civil discourse by braying his unshaken beliefs like a stuck pig.

* Refuse to shut the fuck up.

* Refuse to go away.

* Wrap himself in the flag and impugn the patriotism of any who would question his moral superiority.

* Wear a big shit-eating grin that gives the other side just a moment of pause as they lay their heads on their pillows at night.

* Have a glint in his eye that says, "I may have a shit-eating grin on my face, but I'm just waiting for an opportunity to slip this knife in."

See this not as a defeat, but as an inconvenient mistake.

Friends, join me.

Do not accept.

Do not waver.

Do not shut up.

Do not give comfort with your distress.

Be an unrelenting irritant.

Be a dumbass.

Right now, attitude is everything.

Together, we can help each other bear the present while shortening the time - and it will come - when we prevail."

Lis Riba ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:04 PM:

A young reaction to not getting what you want is to take your ball and go home (or run away from home, as the case may be). An older reaction would be to be to not get what you want and yet stay true to what you want.
I've thought of leaving -- not in a "take my ball and go home" way, but because I don't entirely recognize this country as the America I believe in, and it scares me.

I am a grandchild of Holocaust survivors. Two of my grandparents survived the camps. Another spent the war in hiding. I can't say with 100% confidence that "it can't happen here" when I look at my family history.
One of Ian's uncles lived in Austria before the war. A friend in the police department tipped him off and he fled the country. He tried to convince *his* relatives in Austria that they should leave also, but they said he was overreacting. He was the only survivor of his family.
Are you really calling that an immature reaction?

I've had this discussion with my husband several times during this administration's tenure. I agreed the responsible thing to do was to stay through the election, and try to get at least one branch (presidency, House, Senate) out of GOP control. But that failed.
I do feel a responsibility to this country. But I also recognize a responsibility to protect myself, and when it comes down to it, personal survival is a powerful trump card.

I'm making no decisions yet; but just wanted to share another perspective on the possibility of leaving.

Temperance ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:05 PM:

Charlie Stross, John Scalzi, Dan Layman-Kennedy, Jim Gardner, Emma, and many others on this thread have said it for me. Don't despair, don't mourn, organize! I too had a bad night -- too depressed to sleep, too worried about what's going to happen to the environment and Social Security, too angry about the world my new grandson has been born into ...

Dylan Thomas: "Rage, rage against the dying of the light." The light isn't dead yet, just temporarily dimmed.

Henry ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:13 PM:

Larry - all you need for an Irish passport is one grandparent born in the Republic or in Northern Ireland, plus birth certs showing that you're descended from the grandparent in question. Where you're getting hung up is that you have to apply for citizenship rather than getting it automatically - but the application procedure is straightforward, and provided that you can show that you are who you say you are, has a 100% success rate. For further info, see http://www.irelandemb.org/fbr.html . Not that I want to encourage Americans to leave - there's a fight to be fought - but there's no harm in having it as an option for dire emergencies (plus you get the short queues when coming through immigration when you fly into any EU country.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:25 PM:

Thanks for the snark, Laura. I needed that, today of all days.

Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:26 PM:

When you're done, the US will still be here. You can give it to the people you fear or you can fight for it to be what you want it to be.

Not my US. My US is gone. Millions and millions of my fellow citizens have destroyed it. On the plane flight from Phoenix to San Francisco I wrote something I'll be posting later tonight that explains what I think and how I feel abou this. I can't post it now (between flights) because I'm about to run out of battery and there's no outlet.

Jordin left out the only verse of that song that applies

My shame ye count and know.
Ye say my quest is vain.
Ye have not seen my foe,
Ye have not told his slain.
Surely he fights again, again;
But when ye prove his line.
There shall come to your aid my broken blade
In this last, lost, fight of mine!


Adam S ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:30 PM:

I watched the returns late into the night, getting more and more depressed. By the time I went to bed, I had decided I either had to leave this country I no longer recognized, or get much more politically active. I was leaning hard towards the former until reading this topic. Apparently, there are still some wonderful and determined people in the US. And to Hell with the 60 million imbeciles who voted for Bush. They won't drive me from my country.

Now, where do I sign up to run for City Council?

Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:30 PM:

I know what I'm going to do -- start organizing to defeat Senator George Allen. Not only is he tucked under Bush's wing, but he publicly took credit last night for increasing the Republicans in Congress. We've got two years to get rid of him and put a Democrat in for Virginia.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:31 PM:

MKK: I don't disagree. But for some reason I don't feel depressed about it all.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:38 PM:

Henry, I got the info on Irish citizenship through descent from oasis.gov.ie, which says:

If you are of the third or subsequent generation born abroad to an Irish citizen (in other words, one of your grandparents is an Irish citizen but none of your parents was born in Ireland), you may be entitled to become an Irish citizen. You will need to apply have your birth registered in the Foreign Births Register. However, whether your application is successful will depend on whether the parent through whom you derive Irish citizenship had himself or herself become an Irish citizen by being registered in the Foreign Births Register before you were born.

The site you referred me to seems to agree, although the language is more vague.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:40 PM:

Actually, I should add that Kerry's failure to be "electable" puts other things in perspective. For example, Dean's Democracy for America project looks much better to me than it did 24 hours ago.

My failure to let this get me down is attributable in part, I think, to my general bleak outlook on the future. The Sixth Extinction continues with or without Kerry; the migration of military force from public to private hands may well have continued with Kerry in office, etc.

Yes, it was reallly really really important to get Bush out of office. But past a certain point that game had to be played by the entrenched rules of the Democratic party, which is in a nasty end game with the Republican party. Although I really really really wanted Bush to lose the election, I feel liberated from the Democratic machine today; and that is a profound relief.

Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 06:50 PM:

Chin up, chaps! Stiff upper lip and all that.

Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:01 PM:

I didn't sleep much last night, either. Don't know if I would have slept better if I were convinced that I'm going to escape unscathed from the country being more hated, more trillions in debt, stupider about scientific research, and stupider about the environment.

I believe that Bush is now likely to screw us up in ways that hurt worse than before. But I don't think the answer to this is only about screaming and fighting. Yes. Let's do that, if it does more good than harm.

But if 51% of this country's voters can look at what Bush has done and continue to vote for him -- we've got a problem worse than the thievery, incompetence, and callousness of his administration. And, I believe, it's a problem that can only be solved at the local level. If we want change, we have to give children as much of a chance as we can to grow up in environments that nurture the healthy values we believe in. So whatever we do that's actually good for them -- we have to keep doing it on a day-by-day basis while we're all being screwed by Republican folly -- that our generation may not escape from.

Douglas ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:20 PM:

Lis Riba said: "I've thought of leaving -- not in a "take my ball and go home" way, but because I don't entirely recognize this country as the America I believe in, and it scares me."

That's exactly what's driving me to despair. I emigrated to America instead of any of the other countries I could have gone to, in part because it's still the only country in the world founded on a dream of decency and justice for all. Now I find the majority of my fellow citizens dream happily of torturing other human beings, and I can't account for it.

Like Greg Ioannou, "I left in search of a place where I could feel safer and feel a bit less like an alien." I thought America would be that place, foolish me.

Josh ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:21 PM:

If we do nothing and give up now, then we truly deserve to get
screwed. Don't despair; we did get a few things right this year. But a true progressive renewal will take much more than mobilizing for just one election. And we'll do it because of the love we have for our neighbors and what America really is about.

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:22 PM:

It does really suck. I think we all need some time to deal with the outrage of this. The idea that the American electorate could confer legitimacy on this band of thugs is just so mind-bogglingly wrong, it makes me sick.

I was driving 90 mph on NM state road 550 this morning, pounding the steering wheel and screaming at the radio with tears streaming down my face. (OK, I know, that was pretty stupid. I promise not to do it again.) I think I've been through just about every awful emotion I can think of, and a few others. I probably have some more of that, and other things, to do, too, I suspect.

But for me, this isn't about an election, anymore. This doesn't change anything fundamental. Things are still wrong with our government, and I'm still pissed about it. Kerry conceded the race, but that doesn't mean we have to concede the country to these people.

They're _wrong_ to take away people's civil liberties. They're _wrong_ to wage war without cause. They're _wrong_ to manipulate and lie to people, tell them boogey-monster stories about gays and minorities and atheists -- play on their fears, and climb over their backs to gain power.

They're _wrong wrong wrong_ to pry into people's reading habits, impose their faith on those who don't share it, to bankrupt the national treasury, turn our grandchildren's legacy into handouts for the already-obscenely-rich, destroy the lives and careers of anyone who has the timerity to point out that maybe they need to take a little responsibility for themselves.

They've been playing on people's fears of terrorism and of people who are different from them. They've bred an atmosphere of divisiveness and hate, and then turned around and blamed those of us on the right for it.

We have to stay clean; we can't play by their rules without becoming them. But we can get (stay) organized, get tough, build networks, not back down. We don't give them an inch. We hone our message and take it to anyone who'll listen.

We've still got plenty of good political and social structures in place we can use. We've got a good story to tell. We just need to find a way to craft our memes, and slip them past the Wurlitzer blockade. We'll sow the seeds of freedom.

In some ways, I think we're still dealing with the legacy of our Civil War.

Anyway, I've got a friend who is suffering from alcoholism. She has four children and an emotionally abusive, neglectful husband. She'll handle it for a stretch, weeks, months at a time, brace up and cope and be so giving and strong and together, despite all his criticisms and berating and controlling her.

And at some point, it just all gets to be too much for her. She climbs into the bottle and stays there, for days on end, sobbing and swearing at her children and her friends. Then she goes into detox, cowering under her husband's rages, promising she'll do better.

It's so painful to watch the cycle of her loss of control, her shame afterwards, the impact on her kids. It's obvious he's miserable, too, but he's so bound up in his own trouble I don't even try to go there, not really.

We try to do what we can, particularly for the kids, but we can't shield them. While she knows it's bad, and she's been into treatment numerous times, it's not going to change until she can find the courage to stand up to her husband. I can't see how that marriage can last and she walk away with her self intact. And that may never happen.

Anyway, I came up with this mantra that helps me cope. Give love, have hope, speak truth. I use it in all kinds of situations, now, actually. (Mind you, I don't necessarily always achieve it, but never mind that; it's a good reminder.)

Anyway, I'm not willing to give up this fight. I do have hope. I have a love of this country and its people, despite my anger at those who are tearing its structures apart. And so very many of us all feel this way. I still believe we can make a difference.

This is all really just blatherm Patrick. I don't know how to comfort you at a time like this. It really is awful. And you've fought hard, protesting the Iraqi war, speaking out on important issues, providing an avenue for thoughtful voices on the left to reach large numbers of people. You've invested a lot of yourself in this, and you really do have the right to take all the time you need to recover from this election.

But please. Don't give up the process altogether. You have an incisive intellect and an understanding of politics that is clarifying and bracing. We need you in this fight.


LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:25 PM:

(make that "blaming those of us on the LEFT." Or perhaps, "those of us IN the right.") (Sheesh -- what a time to get dyslexia.)

Klry ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:35 PM:

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vry sncr FCK Y.

JamesG ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:36 PM:

Freedom is often as elusive as it is idealistic. Yet we all strive for it. All freedoms come at a price. Some we attain with little effort. Others we are granted at great expense.

Yet in the end, we must all face the saddest of all truths; Freedom is an illusion. By its very nature, it is a permission given and anything that is given can be taken away. Still we want more. We want, no, we demand as many freedoms as can be afforded to us. It is in our nature.

If we give up now, then we let them take away more of our freedom. We still have the freedom to speak our mind.

Nearly half of the country echoed your call for a change. Keep striving, keep others striving for a change. Maybe if enough voices are risen then he will have no choice but to hear the words, no more than that, the feelings of the citizens that he has trod on to keep his position.

Don't give up the good fight.

Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:42 PM:

"Better yet, move the hell out of this country you hate and whine somewhere else."

It's not the Left that hates America. If we hated America, we wouldn't be sad; we'd be rejoicing in its pain. But you've give us our rallying cry:

"Wake the fuck up."

Wrye ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:44 PM:

It's less than 24 hours later, friends. I think a little bit of letdown is more than understandable. It's been a very long four years.

As for the America you knew being gone, I wouldn't say so. Trust a Canadian on this: the America you love is an idea. Most of the world actually loves or at least admires that idea too. Where the difficulty lies--and has always lain--is in the gap between that ideal and the real, messy, violent working-out of it. But as the saying goes, while it's possible to defeat a man, it's not possible to stop an idea. Even now.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:51 PM:

Kilroy: The real embarrassment of this election is that when those people dying for lack of food and water get the chance to vote, they wait in lines much shorter than those in various places in Ohio. Last time I checked, Ohio was not a fledgling democracy.

Pamela ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 07:54 PM:

Why yes, Kilr0y, there are hungry people in the world. Including more than 33 million* in this country, 13 million of whom are children.

We had hoped to elect an administration that saw that as a problem.


*statistics from USDA, via http://salc.wsu.edu/Fair_F03/FS21/Webpage%20WHY/why%20subtopics%203.htm

kilr0y ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:12 PM:

So you don't align yourself with the likes of Michael Moore?

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:17 PM:

No more than you align yourself with, say, O'Reilly, Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, or any of their ilk.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:18 PM:

People, people, people. Enough of this "America isn't the greatest country in the world any longer, it's not my dream, it's not Utopia, it's not perfect, it's not BETTER THAN ANYWHERE ELSE, I might as well leave." There's news for you: America is a country like many others. There are worse and there are better. America didn't invent freedom, democracy, the right of free speech, the human rights, and even less it patented them. Human beings did that, belonging to different moments in history and different places on Earth. They are concepts that belong to every human being and every nation on this goddamn Earth has had people who have striven to bring them in. Your country is not mystically superior, it's not the Chosen Land, it's just the country you happened to be born in, with an interesting history, just like mine, sometimes an inspiring history and sometimes an embarassing history and sometimes a shameful history. Just like mine. And many others.

I don't particularily like the country I'm living in but hell, I'm frankly offended at hearing people going on about how only their country cares for equality, justice, democracy and all. People here have died for them. People have stayed here and fought for them when the fighting involved SS firing squads and sticks under the nails. Don't you dare say that America is the only country that cares about justice, democracy and the rest. What about the rest of us? What about our history, our aspirations, ideals, struggles, achievement?

This is a tragic case of an influential (no pun intended) country going to the dogs, with dangerous consequences both for its citizens and - probably even more - for certain foreigners. It is not about the Dream of America Dying. America isn't a dream. It's not an ideal. It's a country. Your country. You owe it to your citizens and the Iraqis and, most probably, the Iranians to do your damnest to get it back on track, not mourn over the passing of some mythical America that signifys the passing of all that's great and inspiring in the world. (A decent interval of grief and invective is understandable and justifiable).

You wanna be patriotic? Redeem your country. Don't mourn its fall. This isn't about Grace and Fall and Democracy=USA. It's about corporate power and insane ideologues of a free-market religion hitchhijking some decent folks - your compatriots. Love your country for what it is - a place of rich history, great faults, lots and lots of decent people, and the same allotment of assholes as the rest of the nations on Earth. Some of them clever enough to misguide the decent people. Love it because it's yours to tend and care for, not because it's somehow unique, best, and quintessentially superior. Be enraged when it tortures people not because it spoils it purity but because torturing people is bad for them.

A lot of people have fought long and hard to make America what it is. And of course a lot of people have busily worked to fuck up America. This happens all over the world with varying success. Sometimes it's sane to get up and leave - but not because any one country can have its pristine purity, its unique and never before occurring idealism spoilt by bad governaments- or idiotic electorates, for that.

I love America. I'm happy there. I'd like to move there. I love it despite its tragically evil regime and the bad choices of its people. I love it with all its faults, because it produces kind, smart, generous people. But it's down here in the dirt, looking up at the sky, just like the rest of us in the world.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:19 PM:

Um, T, why does klr still have his vowels?

Mark ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:24 PM:

Define "align yourself." Define "the likes of Michael Moore." Define "hating your country." Oh, and look up the meaning of "rude."

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:26 PM:

Oh, and another thing. On the aftermath of the their greatest victory, the Kilroys and folks like him still come here and what do they sound? Elated? No. Seething.

People, even in the midst of sorrow, how sorry I am for them. They know no relief to their resentment, anger and fury. No matter how hurt we are now, we still know how to rejoice. They only know anger, spite and hate. And they don't even realize that their anger is used.

kilr0y ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:27 PM:

That's what I said.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:32 PM:

Lydy, attribution is Langston Hughes, by the way.

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:39 PM:

I just realized what I need. I need Jon Stewart. Now.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:41 PM:

Anna, what you're seeing here is an affliction that I share with most of my countrymen, left and right, a sense of idealism hand in hand with American exceptionalism.

A lot of us see America more as a system of laws and an agreed-upon form of governance that just happens to span the middle part of North America. Our ethnic identity is weak. To most of us, a place like Singapore could decide to join up and we'd be happy to stick another star on the flag after a brief courtship period. That said, we've been a pretty ineffective colonial power. Only Hawaii and maybe Texas and California can really be said to be a colonies that joined the Union. (I think the Utahans wanted to go it alone, but realized that it would be impractical, so consider them as having been conquered economically. Teresa would know more about that.) The rest of the West was either purchased or conquered, plain and simple.

Right now, progressives in the US are feeling a little battered, and our idealism is tarnished. It's the damage to our idealism that is driving us to despair. As I said upthread, I'm not going anyplace anytime soon. (But I still think an Irish passport would be a good resource to have, if only to keep from being in the first wave of people killed on the hijacked airplane.)

The radicals on the right are more likely to use words like "homeland" which to my ears sounds like something that would invoke Godwin's Law if I said it. They also believe in the divine inspiration of our government, which sounds just plain nuts to me.

Give us a couple of days, and most of us will be feeling a lot better, although we're likely to be daunted by the challenges we face at home and abroad. Wish us well, as we wish you well. And thanks for the plain talk, I, for one, appreciate it.

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 08:58 PM:

The radicals on the right are more likely to use words like "homeland" which to my ears sounds like something that would invoke Godwin's Law if I said it.

Ah, come on. Homeland = Heimat

When I went to the German public schools in the '70s we had "Heimat" studies. (Or were you thinking Vaterland?)

Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:02 PM:

All I can say is, the kids are here.

I'm 24, and more of us got out than I've ever seen. We took PA, from what I've heard. I was registered in CT and grew up in the heart of all the blue, so I wasn't worried before now. I assumed that everyone in the country was like my friends and neighbors, all reasonable and open-minded, and the last few years had been an obvious error.

But even how, the kids are here, hurting along with you. I woke up this morning with a sickness in my stomach and a pain all up the right side of my neck, and it hasn't gone away. It hasn't even gotten a little better. But we're here, all of us, and we're willing to fight. Every liberal my age I know voted.

Maybe we've got a bit more naivete, but as sad and lost as we are we are sure there will be a snap back. I don't think we could live if we believed anything else. I think 24 may be a little young to give up and a little old to run away and join the circus. I know I'm sure as hell staying. I love this country and I will not see her fall.

So yeah. We're growing up and growing into our power. but we still need those of you who are older and wiser to help us be sensible about the whole thing, to push us towards protests instead of riots. I know I don't have much hope today, but tomorrow maybe we'll both be better, and you can give us some advice, and we can get back out there.

Believe me, the kids are here. and we're fuckin pissed.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:08 PM:

Kilr0y the l33t said:
>Better yet, move the hell out of this country you hate and whine somewhere else.

Make me, asshole.

Kilr0y, you're the America-hater, because it's obvious you have no idea what democracy is. I know your kind; I grew up with you in rural Indiana. What you grindingly stupid people never understand is that if all the liberals left, there'd be nobody left to pay the bills.

Dumbass. Skulk back to your trailer park and don't speak until spoken to.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:11 PM:

By the way, anybody thinking about Canada should have a look at this short entry by Matthew Yglesias. Good for a laugh, anyway.

Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:12 PM:

Anna, Larry,

"Eat your vegetables, there are children starving in India" a) does not make the spinach* on you plate any more palatable, and b) does exactly zero for the starving children of India.

This is my country. This is where I live. I don't think it's the best or freest country in the world; I wish it weren't the most powerful. I'm not mourning a great light set at the top of the hill to guide all mankind. I just live here, is all.

* Actually, I like spinach, boiled with butter and a little bit of vinegar. It's liver I can't stand. However, my mother never threatened the starving children in India with liver.

kilr0y ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:23 PM:

Hy Mchl, why dn't y snd m yr ddrss nd 'll stp n by smtm. W cn hv nc cht.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:31 PM:

Kathryn - Yes, I was thinking Heimat. "Homeland Security" creeps me out in ways that "Domestic Security" does not.

Lydia - Point taken and conceded. But years of indoctrination are very hard to shake. BTW, the point of contention at my childhood dinner table was (shudder) lima beans. We had an armed truce over liver - I hated it and my mother hated liver, so liver for her meant lamb for me.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:34 PM:

Whoops - meant to say that my Mom hated lamb. Now my off-topic point is a little more coherent.

kilr0y - are you threatening people here? What a troll.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:34 PM:

Hey, jerk, why don't you go first? Chicken? Come on, if you're so big, you can tell me your address, right?


I love trolls. They're so entertaining when fed. And it's so typical of "Americans" like kilr0y to play bantam rooster when pushed. I'll bet he even thinks he's a Christian. Poor guy. If he ever got an education, it'd make his brain explode from humiliation.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:37 PM:

Good comments from Anna regarding American exceptionalism (or, as the Church calls it, the "Americanist heresy"). However, Anna, with all due respect, your mother can go fuck herself. Italy put Mussolini in power and elected Sylvio Berlusconi. No Italian has any business generalizing from this election to the categorical conclusion that "Americans are assholes."

Elsewhere, Bob Stein writes that "the lone act of terrorism at the World Trade Center will become just one of many as the victims of our Nation's greed and brutality fight back in the only way they can. And sadly, we will deserve all of it." Sorry, but I don't actually think I deserve to die in a terrorist attack. Neither does Bob Stein. Neither does my 14-year-old nephew.

I have much the same take on Josh's comments "if we do nothing and give up now, then we truly deserve to get screwed." As with Bob Stein's comment, I can only conclude that this proceeds from a definition of the verb "to deserve" with which I am unfamiliar. Do the people who "deserve to get screwed" include the lame and the halt, the dim and the grief-stricken, those consumed in penitence for their own mistakes and sins? Have you got a precise index of exactly how much public activism is appropriate from each individual in order to pass the bar of not "deserving to get screwed," and does that index allow for the many varieties of human infirmity, incapacity, or sheer folly and failure? If not, why not? Explain why this is a sample of liberal thought. Under your seat please find a composition book and a #2 pencil. Get busy.

Greg London: "A young reaction to not getting what you want is to take your ball and go home (or run away from home, as the case may be). An older reaction would be to be to not get what you want and yet stay true to what you want." That's telling those darn emigrants! They should have stayed in the Austria-Hungarian empire and fought the power, man. Damn weaklings.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 09:44 PM:

Oh, man, you disemvowelled him just when he was starting to show a little spunk! This exchange was getting really promising! And what do I have to show for it? "W cn hv nc cht"??!? For all anybody could tell, he invited me for a cheeto!

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:11 PM:

Oh, and kilr0y, I currently live in Ponce, Puerto Rico. You can't drive your pickup over here and you probably can't afford the airfare, so I'm afraid I'm just going to have to disappoint you, man. I know you were really getting all pumped up and oiling your baseball bat and all, but hey, if you give me your address and I really get the hankering for a little vacation time in Podunk, we'll see what we can arrange. I always like a nice Cheeto.

Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:14 PM:

Tough 24 hours, that's fer shure.

I don't know what to say to anybody. I can only talk about what I said to myself, I guess.

I'm kind of a do one thing at a time type guy. The first thing I had to do was to figure out how to fall asleep for a while.

After I managed to do that, it occurred to me that I wanted to thank Senator Kerry for his courage. It takes guts to volunteer and to actually *fight* for the chance to try to solve some of the gawd-awful messes Bush has created for this country. It felt good to thank him for that. I am grateful to him for his courage. I guess plenty of people have things they could say in criticism of him, but I don't think I do. Or, even if I do, I will never say anything against him. A guy with guts like that kind of becomes My Hero. I'm kind of stupid about My Heroes. I don't mind if others say things against My Heroes. It's just that I won't.

So after that, I didn't really do much else. I don't know what the next thing I do will be. I guess I'll probably think of something.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:47 PM:

If we want change, we have to give children as much of a chance as we can to grow up in environments that nurture the healthy values we believe in. So whatever we do that's actually good for them -- we have to keep doing it on a day-by-day basis while we're all being screwed by Republican folly -- that our generation may not escape from.

Thank you, Lenny. I think you've put the long view in a nutshell. It fits well with Lakoff's theory of nurturing family morality vs. strict father morality. It also fits with what I've heard that anti-gay hysteria is fading away with the older generation. And it's something worth fighting for.

Varia ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 10:50 PM:

I don't even know where to go now. I'm in Oregon, of all places, in Portland, a city with the best bike lanes in the country, the best urban planning, a reputation for liberal craziness, where in at least one local district the Pacific Green candidate's platform was identical to the Democrat's, except it made less sense economically. I love this city.

I considered the possibility of a Bush win this year. I didn't consider it much, but it crossed my mind. I knew it could happen. And it sucks, and it hurts, and it means there are a lot of people out there that I don't have much common ground with morally, but I knew that already, and it's a pretty abstract sort of difference. They might hate liberals, but that's such a diffuse group I almost can't take it seriously.

But Portland? My city of green-leaning bike activists? Queer events all over town? Had gay weddings lined up across the street in May?

My Portland is in a state that just passed Measure 36, which writes it into our state fucking constitution that marriage shall only be considered valid between one man and one woman.

57%. I can't make that number go away. I spent the morning walking through one part of town to do my errands, and I look at the people on the street, and I realize that 57% of the people I see think I'm wrong to be who I am. Fifty-seven percent of them want to make it part of the constitution that no matter how long I might be with one partner, if it's a woman, I will never have automatic visitation rights in a hospital, we will never automatically inherit each other's property, we will never have the same freedom to love as all those lucky straight people out there. And I've heard every single s***--eating argument out there, about how it's not hatred of homosexuals, it's just protecting basic social definitions, and it's a load of steaming curse words. Fifty-seven percent of the people I see around aren't just uncomfortable with queer people, they think it's right to punish us.

I don't know how to "accept" this. I don't even know how to go on fighting. This isn't a generalized disagreement. This is hate directed right at me and the people I love. And for the first time, I want to move somewhere where I don't have to feel this, don't have to cry while I walk down the streets of my hip little liberal neighborhood, because even in my hip little liberal neighborhood, forty percent of 'em wanted to ban gay marriage. I understand finally why people talk of moving to Canada. I'm not just hurt, I'm scared.

What do I do? Run to Massachusetts? What do I do when they come for us there, too?

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:00 PM:

I would like to thank all my friends here for sharing their feelings and support. I feel now that I am "over" the election, and I can go back to normal. In other words, I am back to being mad as hell, and not taking it any longer. See you around the VLWC!

Chris Crawford ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:11 PM:

Since you have chosen to make an appearance here, Kilroy, I'd like to ask you a question that I've long wanted to ask a red-blooded American like you: do you think that the deaths of 30,000 Iraqi civilians constitute a greater tragedy than the deaths of 3,000 Americans on 9/11?


Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:28 PM:

Oregon passing Measure 36 was very puzzling, especially considering how the state re-elected its Democratic senator, went for Kerry by large margin, and expanded Democratic power in the state house and senate.

The advertising against was very sensible and appealing to the mainstream.

All I can come up with is: Very, very well organized GOTV campaigns in churches and rural areas.

36's passing is going to effect a former co-worker and her wife. I hope the legal fight to overturn the measure succeeds.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:42 PM:

Michael Weholt said:

it occurred to me that I wanted to thank Senator Kerry for his courage. It takes guts to volunteer and to actually *fight* for the chance to try to solve some of the gawd-awful messes Bush has created for this country. It felt good to thank him for that. I am grateful to him for his courage. I guess plenty of people have things they could say in criticism of him, but I don't think I do. Or, even if I do, I will never say anything against him. A guy with guts like that kind of becomes My Hero. I'm kind of stupid about My Heroes. I don't mind if others say things against My Heroes. It's just that I won't.
Yeah, what that Michael Weholt said.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 03, 2004, 11:43 PM:

Oh, and Patrick, there's just one thing I need to say about this whole alternate-reality experiment of yours. As you know, I've long found your odd insistence on dogged media complacency with your posited Bush regime rather implausible, and frankly the whole thing has seemed like a lot of effort for no discernable payoff.

But now you truly expect me to believe that the American people would tolerate such an incompetent President, to the extent that the electoral picture in 2004 would be virtually identical to that in 2000, after such an already implausible series of Oval Office screwups?

It's ludicrous. Really. Sorry to post out of character here, but there's just so far I can take suspension of disbelief.

Chris: I've asked my father that same question. (Rural Indiana, remember.) He hems and haws, but figures that 9/11 was unprovoked, so our tragedy is greater.

Yeah, I know. But these poor creatures don't operate on logic. I (usually) love my Dad, and he's really intelligent, truly, but I'm not joking when I say that education would melt their brains. Sort of like this, that's how I imagine it.

My wife is Hungarian. This ability of red-state Americans to disengage their version of reality from logic drives her around the bend. (Not that Hungarians are better -- but she expects America to live up to its own self-image, you see.) It really is a cheap cop-out, which is why I rarely have meaningful exchanges with my Dad. It's just not much fun having a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent.

I guess I misunderestimated the number of such intellectual lightweights in the voting public. I really thought America would vote to reject incompetence, but apparently the incompetent find it endearing that Bush isn't any smarter than they are.

Remember cracks about Bush appealing to his ethnic group, the Moron-Americans? (Hi, kilr0y!) I thought it was supposed to be a joke! But sadly, it appears to be all too true.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:05 AM:

Michael's entry reminds me of one of the sayings of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs:

"Act like a dumbfuck and they'll treat you like an equal."

Only I'm not sure that Bush is *acting.*

MichelleB ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:08 AM:

Patrick (and whoever else cares to listen):

My first post here, so I'm a little nervous. I've been reading Electrolite and Making Light for a little while now, long enough that I think I can share a bit with you.

I am not a politically active person. To say that I dislike hearing about politics or government is an understatement; loathe is a word that approaches my feelings. I had a run at being politically aware when I was a teenager, but I got so fed up with it that I quickly retreated into apathy. I didn't vote in the 2000 election. If I had I was going to vote for Bush.

Pretty scary attitude, huh?

It goes on. I was all for GW attacking back right after 9/11. I was a little unsure about the 'Iraq thing', but like I said, apathy goes a long way.

A strange thing happened in the last year. I started getting involved with the livejournal community, where I read posts from people about interests we shared. Posts from people whose opinions I respected. I started reading your and Teresa's blogs because I was interested in your publishing experience and I thought you guys were interesting, period.

And you know what? People were talking politics. I sometimes read, sometimes didn't, but the information they had, the things they had experienced, the opinions they voiced sunk in. My eyes were opened. I started to care again. And so I voted. I voted for Kerry. And even though he lost, I know that there are other people out there who share my way of thinking. People who are as frustrated as I am, but still have the courage to say and do things. The courage to care.

Now, I'm still probably not going to become a huge political activist. I'm a very introverted person who likes to avoid conflict and confrontation as much as possible. But I live my life, and I try to bring good things to people wherever I can. I'm a healer. I volunteer at a domestic violence shelter. I smile and try to get other people to see the good things in life. I'm not a hero, I'm not even a terribly productive part of society. But I am an American.

So what am I trying to say? Not a lot I guess. But know this. People like you, people like my 'friends' on livejournal, do make a difference. Even if that is one little voter at a time.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:21 AM:

But know this. People like you, people like my 'friends' on livejournal, do make a difference. Even if that is one little voter at a time.

I do in fact know what you mean. In another world with which I'm familiar, this is known as the "community of saints."

Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:39 AM:

This defeat was not entirely unexpected by me. What did surprise me was my feeling of absolute despair and humiliation. The Senate races were the real kick in the teeth.

What to do next is the real question, I suppose. My wife and I are moving to Japan. Japan is hardly the bastion of liberalism that I wish America could be, but at least their problems are their problems. I need to get away from this.

My grandparents left Germany one year before WWII broke out. As far as I can tell, nobody ever chastised them for not sticking it out and working for change in the Fatherland. When I look at their emmigration, the words that come to mind are "Good move."

As bad as I feel, I do not actually believe the US is anywhere near Germany in the 40s, that would be ridiculous. Still, our political culture has me despondent. I don't want to write books for these people! I don't want to participate, I don't want to be here for more of this. It's been excrutiating to watch the parade of injustices over the past four years and then see the perpetrators receive the ultimate prize for their malfeasance. Blech.

That said, I can't imagine I won't come back. I need a breather, a few years off from this. I hope. My desire to leave is not an adolescent "I'll show you!" It's a desire to move myself and my family to a less hostile culture. My wife is Japanese, so that's where we'll go. If Peter Jackson decides to shoot the Silmarillion, then I'll move to New Zealand and be an Elf or something.

Ironically, the one thing that cheers me up is that as I read most of the comments I keep saying to you all, "I like you people, don't give up. Things can get better. Bush really cocked things up and he's in a hell of a mess. There will be a reckoning!"

So, for now, I'll get ready to move to Japan, and I'll listen to my own pep talks. Advice is so much easier to give than to follow.

Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:48 AM:

I had a snarky post on my blog about a Republican to-do list for 11/2/04: 1) Vote for Bush, and 2) marry my rapist.

That's sort of what it feels like. America has married its rapist.

I'm unhappy and I'm disappointed and I can think of far too many things that are likely to happen in the months and years ahead that will make the last four years seem like the Good Old Days.

But there are beautiful roses out in the garden. I think I'll bring some inside tomorrow.

(And, Patrick, if you've been feeling sick for weeks, see your doctor. It'll be easier to be hopeful again if you don't feel like a stepped-on-twice dog turd.)

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:53 AM:

Doctor, check, 1:45 PM tomorrow, check.

Sarah Avery ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:16 AM:

I've been thinking today about a friend's response to the election disaster: "It is our responsibility to thrive." Not just to get off our asses (those of us who were sitting on them), not just to speak up about what we find objectionable. To thrive. So, if you admired the sentiment behind the post on What a Dumb-Ass Republican Would Do, but can't stomach emulating dumb-ass Republicans, there's an alternative mantra.

Ed Becerra ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:06 AM:

At the risk of sounding like a warmonger, I'm an old soldier too. Born a military brat - in a military hospital yet! - and raised on base, enlisted when I was 17. Eleven years before a silly training accident took me out of action.

Having said that, I didn't vote for Kerry, because I didn't trust him. He seemed to me to be trying to be all things to all people. If you were a Green, he spoke of Green political leanings. If you were an extreme leftist, he spoke socialism. If you were a DINO (Democrat in name only) he spoke middle of the road.

To me, the election wasn't a choice between good (Kerry) and bad (Bush), it was a choice between bad (Bush) and worse (Kerry).

How can I say Kerry's worse? Well, Ron in Portland says Americans have decided they'd prefer to live in a "imperialist feudal theocracy separated from the rest of the world".

I don't know about the "feudal theocracy" part, but I have little problem with the imperial bit.

I no longer trust the Third World nations to behave rationally, and with each passing day, I find I lean more and more towards Kipling's "White Man's Burden". Europe seems civilized enough (despite France's attitude of "If we just snivel enough, the Muslims will leave us alone"), as do the ABC countries of the former British Empire. Japan's civil, and China, while a brutal oligarchy, seems to be a fairly rational one at the moment.

But much of the rest of the world seems to be decending into a Yugoslavia-type orgy of "I and my brother against my cousin, I and my cousin against our neighbor, I and my neighbor against the world." Tribalism of the worst sort. Mixed with religion and pride in BOTH tribe and religion, it's resulting in genocide across the world.

Call me an imperialist bastard if you like, but I want a world where the words of H. Beam Piper, from his novel "Uller Uprising" are true:

"For one thing, the next geek who picks up the idea of soaking a Terran in thermoconcentrate and setting fire to him will drop it like a hot potato. And the next geek potentate who tries to organize an anti-Terran conspiracy, or the next crazy caravan driver who preaches 'Kill Terrans!' will be lynched on the spot."

-- Colonel Carlos von Schlichten, "Uller Uprising".

I want the tribes of the Third World to think of Americans that way. I don't give a damn if they hate me, so long as they fear me. Fear me to the point of peace and quiet in the world.

AFTER they abandon all of this archaic tribal garbage... THEN we can worry about equality, being loved by the rest of the planet, and whatnot.

It worked with Japan, it worked with Germany. Two racist, militaristic nations who now behave in the world community in a civil fashion.

Kerry just didn't seem to me to be the sort of man the world needs to take care of this in the same way Harry Truman did.

Ed Becerra

Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:04 AM:

I watched the election night coverage here (until I got depressed about 4 am and turned it off), and I was struck by something about that red/blue map.

Ignoring what the map really means, it struck me that from an Irish perspective all the bits of America which are familiar are blue: Boston and New England, NY, DC, California and the West coast, all pure blue. Even Chicago, somewhat less familiar, is there in the zone.

I don't mean personally familiar to me, I've spent time in Dallas and in Idaho myself, I mean all the bits of the USA which are familiar elements of our popular culture here.

But no, I had forgotten one. Disneyworld is red. The America that elected Bush is not the America we think we know over here, it's a Mickey Mouse America.

Eddie Cochrane ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:13 AM:

Ed Becerra wrote:
"I want the tribes of the Third World to think of Americans that way. I don't give a damn if they hate me, so long as they fear me. Fear me to the point of peace and quiet in the world."

Ah, the old phrase oderint dum metuant "Let them hate so long as they fear", a favourite saying of Caligula. I'm reminded of the line from the first season of The West Wing (pause to google) where Bartlett says, "Did you know that 2000 years ago, a Roman Citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation. He could walk across the earth unharmed, cloaked only in the protection of the words 'civus romanus': I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens ... Let the word ring forth from this time and this place. You kill an American, any American, we donít come back with a proportional response, we come back with total disaster!"

He changed his mind later of course, but that was TV. So that is what you want for the USA, a new Roman Empire bringing the light of civilisation to a barbarian world through overwhelmingly superior firepower. How long before we can expect to see the road from Baghdad to Fallujah lined with crucified "insurgents"? Sadly for Bush he can't appoint senators, but he could always appoint his horse to the Supreme Court instead, though it would probably have to be a recess appointment.

Well I guess it worked for the Romans for five hundred years (I'm not counting the Byzantine Empire, because if Heraclius had kept a grip on the southern provinces we wouldn't have all these problems), but would you really be happy with America transforming itself into an empire? They are damned expensive things to run, and the foreign subjects can get stroppy when you try to impose a few reasonable taxes.

adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:57 AM:

Patrick, when you say:

I have much the same take on Josh's comments "if we do nothing and give up now, then we truly deserve to get screwed." As with Bob Stein's comment, I can only conclude that this proceeds from a definition of the verb "to deserve" with which I am unfamiliar. Do the people who "deserve to get screwed" include the lame and the halt, the dim and the grief-stricken, those consumed in penitence for their own mistakes and sins?

you're misreading "we".

Of course the larger "we" doesn't deserve what it's going to get, but the smaller "we" of activists who give up is the "we" to which the poster Josh was referring.

I don't think anyone deserves the shitstorm Bush is now capable of bringing down, but if anyone does deserve it, people who oppose him yet give up are right on the top of my list.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 10:05 AM:

Greg London: "A young reaction to not getting what you want is to take your ball and go home (or run away from home, as the case may be). An older reaction would be to be to not get what you want and yet stay true to what you want." That's telling those darn emigrants! They should have stayed in the Austria-Hungarian empire and fought the power, man. Damn weaklings.


I brought this up before, but an election is a lot like a game of Thing. 20 scientests and 3 things start out in the room. Things are evil. Good scientists might vote poorly and waste tests on other scientists, allowing the things to slowly take over.

George Bush and his administration are Things in this analogy. They claim to be scientists, and they persuaded everyone that Kerry was a thing.

They got 51 percent of the vote, and gave Kerry the boot.

Now, the question boils down to this:

Do you think 51 percent of the people are evil Things?

Or do you think that there are a small percentage of Things and a larger number of scientists who simply got persuaded to vote the wrong way?

If you think the majority of players are Things, then the game is over and we just don't know it because there's no referee in real life.

If you think the majority of players are scientists and there are a few things, then it becomes a matter of persuading the scientists who the things are.

If there has been one blind spot for the pro-Kerry side it is that when the question of undecided voters came up, the standard response was usually "What more do they need????" Knowing the truth and persuading others are two separate things that democrats generally don't "get" as well as the republicans.

At VP, during a game of Mafia, it came down to four people: one mafia (Kate), the commandant(Andrew), and two villigers. The commandant finally figured out who the mafia was the previous night. His presentation of that fact was horrible, and Kate ended up persuading the villigers to lynch Andrew. The mafia won that game.

I think this election was a few evil things convincing the majority to vote for them. And I think the scientists who know who the things were simply did a horrible job of convincing people otherwise.

I do not think the majority of players/voters are things. I think they were simply persuaded by the Things to vote the other way.

I have no hard proof of the current Thing population, but that's like playing Thing, too. You never "know" with certainty who all the things are. You can start to figure out some of them, but you might not have all of them.

So, it comes down to your own beliefs.
If you think the majority of voters are Things
then you should probably leave the game,
because there isn't much hope for the scientists.

I think there are a few evil Things lurking about
and it's my job to find the patterns that reveal
the evil Things and persuade the other scientists
to vote them out.

TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:17 AM:

Ed Becerra wrote: Kerry just didn't seem to me to be the sort of man the world needs to take care of this in the same way Harry Truman did.

It seems to me that you saw the John Kerry presented by the Bush campaign and the right-wing media, rather than the real John Kerry. What I know, having read biographies of Kerry, studied his career, and seen him dealing with questions, is that he is remarkably strong, courageous and level-headed. Kerry is exactly the kind of guy that I would want leading our country in tough times. If you don't believe me, check out how he took down BCCI, and what that meant.

If we differ on foreign policy, it's that I think we can have the fear without quite so much of the hatred. We could have respect. I hope you would agree that would be better. The problem with fear is the same as the problem with capital punishment: it doesn't deter the reckless. What would work better is to have the world community on our side again, as it was after September 11, and to have their help in exposing and tracking down those who are against us. That is not a weak policy, it's an effective policy.

Bush's policy of preemptive war against the wrong target, with inadequate followup, is having disastrous results. Among our enemies it is breeding hatred mixed with contempt rather than fear. Among our allies, well we don't that many any more. I don't think that is what you said you want.

This thread is not meant to be a rehash of the entire campaign, so please excuse me for going on like this. However, it's depressing that intelligent people could fail to see Kerry's obvious qualifications, and choose an incompetent like Bush as if he were the lesser of two evils.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:25 AM:

Greg, that may be one of the smartest things posted in this entire thread.

I do protest mildly that your earlier comment seemed to be making an unwarranted generalization about why people emigrate. But from your explanation I see where you're going with this, and I do indeed buy your depiction of the problem's nature and scope.

I personally don't think 51% of the American population are Things, but I do think it's clear that an alarmingly high percentage are, and another alarmingly high percentage are prepared to act on Thing-generated arguments. An instance of the kind of problem we have to worry about is: when does 51%'s willingness to countenance torture of designated enemies overseas become the same 51%'s willingness to see it widely practiced here? (After all, we already have a domestic penal system in which rape is an all-but-officially-acknowledged part of the apparatus of control. It's not like Americans display any notable squeamishness about brutality.)

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:33 AM:

Call me an imperialist bastard if you like

You're an imperial bastard.

AFTER they abandon all of this archaic tribal garbage... THEN we can worry about equality, being loved by the rest of the planet, and whatnot.

our actions, apparently occur in a vacuum of no consequences.

Look up operation Ajax. The overthrow of the iranian government by US and British. The principal reason for the coup was an oil deal whereby the UK and the US divided Iranian oil while giving minor pieces to Dutch and French interests


Our government put the Shaw in power because the iranians were nationalizing their oil. the Shah enforced a strict regime, imprisoning hundreds of political activists and enforcing censorship laws. But he gave us his oil.

So, I'm curious. Did this have anything at all to do with the 1979 Iranian revolution against the shaw which installed the Ayatollah Khomeini as ruler?


and which led to the Iran hostage crisis?


When you demand "they" abandon their archaic tribal garbage, does that include overthrowing governments and installing tyrannical puppets so you can get their natural resources on the cheap?

How about selling Saddam Hussein chemical weapons in the 1980's so he can use them against Iran? We feared the religious extremisim from Iran so much that when Saddam used chemical weapons on his own people, our response was little more than a "tsk tsk" and finger wagging.


How about giving a huge chunk of American foreign aid to Saudia Arabia every year? Our money props up and supports a monarchy that is a poster child for Human Rights violations and tyrannical rule.


If we prop up a dictator and make reform from inside impossible, are you so surprised that all of the terrorists who struck America on 9-11 are Saudi?

We have some garbage of our own that we need to clean up before we can so righteously demand that everyone else clean theirs up too.

Chris Crawford ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:37 AM:

I address this comment to Ed Becerra: first off, I will not jump down your throat merely because you prefer Mr. Bush. Ultimately, the decision about which way to vote is a subjective one, and we can never argue opinions -- only facts and logic. So allow me instead to offer you some facts and logic.

The European empires that you cite approvingly all broke up. They all learned -- the hard way -- that the cost of keeping the natives down just isn't worth the benefit. The roster of failed imperial efforts starts long before the American Revolution (a particularly felicitous example of the natives throwing out the imperialists, wouldn't you say?) and continues through British Afghanistan, French Vietnam, Belgian Congo, American Vietnam, Portuguese Angola, and most recently the Russian empire. There is of course the ongoing Israeli attempt to keep down the Palestinians, and the Israelis are paying a huge price to merely keep the lid on the situation.

So the lesson of history is clear: imperialism doesn't work. Self-determination isn't a noble ideal, it's a pragmatic imperative. Moreover, that imperative grows stronger with the increasing wealth of the world. It was a simple matter for American troops in the Philippines to slaughter stone age tribesmen armed with spears and bows and arrows, but when we took on Vietnamese armed with AK47s, it wasn't so easy. It's gotten worse: now those ignorant savages are armed with RPGs and car bombs. And guess what -- they're only going to get more powerful. Sure, we can get faster fighter planes and cruise missiles, but those weapons are too blunt for this kind of warfare.

There is of course the option of genocide. We did that to the American Indians and it worked pretty well, but there weren't that many. We're up against 25 million Iraqis -- does the white man's burden extend to genocide on that scale? The Nazis only killed 6 million Jews -- are you prepared to top that? And remember, they're breeding at the rate of roughly 500,000 per year. That means that each and every year, 250,000 fresh 18 year olds reach the age of military capability. We could kill 250,000 of them every year (that's 684 every day) and only keep up with their breeding. Are you willing to accept that kind of warfare?

The historical shift from imposed government to self-determined government did not arise from any moral superiority of modernity. It was a pragmatic imperative. A few thousand men-at-arms with swords could keep a few hundred thousand starving peasants under control, but population growth and technological advance have rendered the good old days obsolete. If we fight that trend, we'll experience the same bitter lessons that sent aristocracy and imperialism the way of the dinosaur. Are you prepared to walk that path?


Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:43 AM:

I think the people who voted for Bush because he's more vigorously against gay marriage than Kerry are Things.

alsafi ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:54 AM:

I find myself in much the same situation as Varia, but at least I'm in Memphis, TN, and I already knew they hate me. I -am- scared, and scared bad, for me and for my partner.


I also grew up in an abusive family, and for me the step between fear and fury is a small one still. I'm angry now, and I'm not going anywhere. This is my fucking country, built on ideals that are worth fighting for--no matter how back-ass-wards we may be going right now. It's disheartening and it's a setback; it's also a starting point. I'm gonna park my fat dyke ass down here in the middle of bloodred America, and I'm gonna make my little patch of it better, any way I can. I'm only 27, and I have lots of fight in me yet.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 11:59 AM:

An instance of the kind of problem we have to worry about is: when does 51%'s willingness to countenance torture of designated enemies overseas become the same 51%'s willingness to see it widely practiced here?

From an objective point of view, a game-theory point of view, a systems analysis point of view, or a feedback-loop point of view, I have nothing to offer you that guarantees the right outcome.

Thing/Mafia are highly unstable games and any single game could go either way, depending on the players.

But this really epitomizes democracy in action too. At any given election, it could go either way. The scientists might test the wrong person, and the things might expand. I don't think Bush winning means the game is over just yet. But, over time, the Things might win.

We've got four years until the next presidential election. Four years until the next turn of Thing ends and the group has to decide who to test. We've got four years to present facts and persuade the group to vote to boot the things.

Even if we remain silent, and persuad no one, the election will still come. And we can't really leave the game, because even if we emmigrate or whatever, America still has an impact on the planet.

Seeing all the options, there is nothing to do but keep playing the game.

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:26 PM:

It worked with Japan, it worked with Germany. Two racist, militaristic nations who now behave in the world community in a civil fashion.

So, you want the US to emulate Imperial Japan and the Third Reich? It's true they no longer field huge armies or attempt unilateral pacification projects on nations or 'tribes' they deem sub-human, but it seems a bit drastic. Surely US foreign policy can be modified without depending on first being defeated in a world war.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:40 PM:

pericat, I think Ed meant that we beat up Japan and Germany, and that it worked because they behave themselves these days. Evidently out of fear that we'll beat them up again. (I read it your way the first time, too.)

There's something that's oddly appealing about the idea of being feared. And the truth of the matter is that no matter what we do, we will be feared because right now, we're the biggest, baddest kid on the block, with our little coterie of hanger-on cool kids (hi Britain, Australia and Japan - oops, don't forget Poland!).

Fear is probably a necessary part of the equation. Attack us, and you get hurt very, very badly. I don't see an alternative to that. Maybe even the Iraq debacle might have a small deterrent effect - if the US can't tell you from your (even distant) neighbors, maybe you should try to keep your neigbor from hurting the US. (Yes, that's a stretch.)

I still believe that the reason we won the post-war peace was because we were generous even as we destroyed German and Japanese militarism. I don't see that we've been generous at all in Afghanistan. Heck, we didn't even finish driving out the Taliban and Osama was just on the tube. And I don't see how we can make things stable enough in Iraq to even start being generous. Not auspicious beginnings for a new American empire, are they?

Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:51 PM:

If Kerry had gotten the 51%, no one on this thread would be wondering if the majority of the US voters are Things. But the actual demographics of belief systems would not be much different.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Disneyworld is red.

Actually, as far as I can tell from looking at CNNís election results for Orange County, Florida (home of Lake Buena Vista and Disneyworld), Disneyworld is white, perhaps tinted oh-so-slightly blue: 191,389 for Bush, 192,030 for Kerry.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 12:56 PM:

Actually, I was already unhappy at the idea that as much as 38% or 45% of the population approved of Abu Ghraib.

Kevin Standlee ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 01:42 PM:

Niall McAuley wrote:

But no, I had forgotten one. Disneyworld is red. The America that elected Bush is not the America we think we know over here, it's a Mickey Mouse America.
Not just Disneyworld. Disneyland is also red. See the California presidential vote breakdown by county. Orange County (where Disneyland is) is the small rectangular county with a red 60% on the lower left edge of the map, south of the large green 63% of Los Angeles County.

Actually, with some exceptions (and oddities such as a 2,200-all tie in Mono County that shows up as a Kerry win because of how their mapping software works), California reproduces many elements of the national election in miniature (except the final outcome). Most (not all) of the urban areas and costal counties voted Democratic, while most of the rural inland areas voted Republican. And the comparison to 2000 results shows that there was almost no change between 2000 and 2004.

Or, to put it another way, most of the land area of the state voted Republican, while 54% of the voters voted Democratic. Despite being the largest state by population, vast tracts of California are very rural. I know; my home town is the Sierra foothill town of Challenge, CA, and I lived in a succession of small California towns and cities -- my grandparents' farm near Yuba City, a US Forest Service base in Milford, then "the metropolis of the Eastern High Sierra," Bishop, then Sutter, and later four years in Chico -- until my mid-20s. I now live in the Bay Area.)

Kevin Standlee
Fremont (Alameda County), California

Andrew Willett ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:41 PM:

That's right, Greg. Construct a strong, intelligent argument at the expense of my dignity. It's cool. I don't mind.

Actually, I feel like that Commandant again these days. We knew they were lying, but we couldn't get anybody to listen to our arguments when there were already slick, comfortable lies already in place and dominating the discourse. Whether the lie was "I am never Mafia," or "WMDs! 9/11! Saddam coming to eat your babies!," or "Faggots are going to bring down Western civilization," the counter-arguments were treated as suspect from the get-go. Granted, I'm a crappy debater when I get ruffled, but what kills me is that we couldn't get any traction on the larger scale either.

Surely there must be some way to get on an even conversational footing--or hell, let's aim high, an upper hand--with the Things. Clearly, blogs like this one are a good start, but we really need a bigger, shinier bullhorn.

julia ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 02:58 PM:

Two more questions it might be instructive to research, when examining the situation in the middle east:

1) Who was running the CIA when Saddam Hussein was chosen as our fast-rising young asset in the region?


2) Who appointed the contributor's wife, er, ambassador to Iraq whose official answer to Saddam's checking with us ahead of time was that we didn't officially care whether or not he invaded Kuwait?

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:08 PM:

There's something that's oddly appealing about the idea of being feared.

Maybe it's just me, Larry, but I find it repellant. When I go out in the world, I want people to be happy to see me. Happy to take my money, and replace it with honest goods and services. And vice versa. All that happens when people are scared of you is you become a target.

Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:21 PM:

Andrew, if you had learned a lesson from Bush, you would have ignored my comments until/unless someone asked if it was you, and then you would have denied it vehemently and threatened to have them arrested. It seems to work for him.


Surely there must be some way to get on an even conversational footing

democrats seem to me to be notoriously blind to when they are talking in a way that can't be heard. I probably have a slight advantage, growing up in midwest farmland, which is about as conservative as you can get.

intellectual arguments and history lessons generally don't work. Mention Plato's Cave or talk about the fall of the roman empire, and you'll get nowhere.

Progressive ideas can be expressed simply, but heavy thinkers sometimes get wrapped up in their comlex thinking. Story about a guy going for his PhD: gave a great paper and a great verbal presentation. When an instructor said "Great, can you explain it in simple terms?" the student stopped cold and after a moment said "I don't undersand it enough to explain it in simple terms."

If anyone wants to win the next round of Thing in four years, they better start figuring out how to put their arguments into simple terms now.

The point of "Hunger Pangs" was to put a couple of big topics into basic terms:

control your population or starve
war is never noble
(the cause may be just,
but the war itself is a brutal hell)
corporate influence will kill democracy
prejudice/racism takes many forms

Will Shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:27 PM:

If it's the reds versus the blues, we all lose. Boingboing has the real color of the American map.

Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:29 PM:

pericat - I didn't mean to give too strong an endorsement to the idea that being feared is a good thing. But I think that there's an element of human nature that enjoys being at the top of the pecking order.

Personally, I'd rather that people be happy to see me, too.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:29 PM:

Two points (well, three, actually -- the third being that kilr0y is either banninated or skulked away, and I wish Patrick would tell me which).

1. On voting with your feet: I am an American. I'm now living in Puerto Rico, and I'm American. I used to live in Germany, and I was American the whole time. I may well move to Hungary (wife's country) and you know what? I'm still going to be American. My kids are American. My philosophy and outlook are American. The government in the part of the planet where I grew up might mutate into the most unAmerican thing imaginable -- apparently already has -- but my love of the ideal called America, my belief in those inalienable rights, my knowledge of the worth of every individual, that is going to persist, and flourish, and spread. It's a small planet. I'll be back. And it's a wired planet, too, so in a very, very real sense I'll never actually leave. (I could be in Hungary this very moment and how would you know? Answer: you wouldn't, unless you checked the times of day I typically posted -- we often spend several months at a time in Hungary and since I work online....)

2. 38% or 45% of America approves of something in their own perceptions which is not the same thing as Abu Ghraib in our perceptions. Granted, we're reality-based. But part of reality means accepting the fact that many people aren't participants. Americans as a culture tend to think in terms of scripts and production values (see Digby's brilliant post from ... yesterday? this morning? whenever) instead of actual researched, grounded facts. This is both a weakness and a strength. It allows us to pursue -- and achieve -- crazy dreams that other nations have to work harder at, just because they know it's going to be hard. But it makes us, as a people, more susceptible than most to propaganda. And this is why America is mostly red state -- they buy the narrative, it makes sense, it validates their choices and their beliefs, and makes them feel important and accepted. To steer America back towards liberal values, it's not enough to say that liberal values make sense from a pragmatic perspective, even though they do (example: we spend too damn much of our GDP on medical insurance (not medical care) and we still don't have flu vaccine or any defense against bioterrorism -- the best defense against the latter would be universal healthcare, duh! but nobody will say so, because it would be liberal and it would make a class of moneyed parasites as obsolete as buggy whip manufacturers.)

Instead of being wonks (i.e. reality-based) we need to change the narrative. This is what I think of as "hip to be square" -- or at least, hip to be right. It's a media question. The junta knows it, and they're really damned good at what they do, along with the complicit media. The media would love to have battling narratives; they're good theater and thus good for ratings. But as long as liberals are purely reality-based, it just ain't gonna happen.

To bring the discussion back to Abu Ghraib: to red staters (again, most of my family) see torture as our boys in uniform getting serious and kicking ass, and maybe some of them getting carried away. Rush Limbaugh and his "fraternity prank" line illustrates it. My wife, by the way, was physically ill when we found out. Hungarians are not a media-based culture, and her own education included too much Nazi history for her to miss the obvious. But red staters can ignore the reality of people being butt-raped for the crime of being brown and not speaking English well, and see the carefully scripted storyline as a more comfortable reality. They choose the reality to suit themselves, you see. Look at the point of fundamentalist faith: you choose reality. Do you think that attitude won't spill over into politics? Of course it will. This is a culture of arbitrary belief. Again: it can be a strength or a weakness, but it exists. To wish it didn't, or to insist that it shouldn't, is futile. Plan for it, and we win. Period. As I said in a post on Electrolite -- short-term media fix: make liberal ideals cool (or Christian, or whatever; the principle is the same, just the shorthand changes); long-term fix: education, real education, to allow people to learn to think on their own.

Give a man a thought, and he'll vote for you today; teach a man to think, and you have a Democrat.

OK, that's all the wisdom I have for you today. Thank you for listening. And kilr0y, wherever you are, son, we miss you. Don't be a stranger.

Michael ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 03:38 PM:

And for what it's worth, I prefer that people be happy to see me -- but I've rarely experienced it. In Germany, people tended to see America as the culture to feel superior to, and in Hungary, everybody assumes I'm independently wealthy and therefore a good target for swindling. Here in Puerto Rico, the first place I've been besides Japan where people can pick me out of a crowd as American, attitudes are fairly ambivalent, but Puerto Rico is a special case.

In Europe, I rely on my beard and my fluent German to disguise being American. Not because I'm ashamed of being American (except for the travesty of my government) but because it's simply easier not to paint a target on my head until people know me a bit better and see me as an individual first and an American second.

I've never travelled anywhere where being American is dangerous. And I don't intend to, either. But I can tell you that fear breeds resentment, and hatred, and as the American government is never going to give a shit about any individual earning less than ten million a year (and everybody knows it) the shield that fear would afford me would be worthless.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 05:17 PM:

I haven't banned anybody in this thread. We rarely ban individuals, in fact.

Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:33 PM:

Patrick, I'd just like to chime in with MichelleB. My gradual slide to the left (or possibly, failure to slide to the right when a number of my libertarian confreres went), and into the fold of the politically active and actively informed, can be directly correlated to my involvement in rec.arts.sf.fandom and later, discovering the blogosphere through links and blogroll at Electrolite. This year I went to two Democratic caucuses, did volunteer phone banking, went to political rallies. All new territory for me. In the end, I wish I had done more, but it's still that scary big step behind me now. There's no doubt in my mind that you, and people like you, have played a major role in that personal renaissance. You make a difference.

CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 07:47 PM:

Ed -- I won't try to argue with your beliefs; several other people have pointed out the holes.

The hole I'll pick on is a practical one: where do you get the idea that Bush has made anyone fear the US, at least with the results you want?
* North Korea fears the US (especially after the Republican Congress broke the agreement Carter worked out); their response appears to have been to build nuclear weapons. \Maybe/ they can't hurt \directly/ with them, but the only way the US can defeat DPRK will leave enough of a mess to ruin us as well.
* Try comparing Iraq \accurately/ to Germany and Japan. In WWII, both countries were invaded by an overwhelming force, stomped into little tiny pieces, and rebuilt on a model the rest of the world approved of; in Iraq, Bush followed Rummy's wet dream of high tech and a small force defeating an entrenched people, and look where that's left us. Bush is incapable of convincing much of the US (let alone most of the rest of the world's economic powerhouses) to make a WWII-class effort; without either that or a better plan for "peace" than he has now, the number who hate but \don't/ fear will only grow.

Uller Uprising is a militarist fantasy: that you can scare \everyone/ into not doing what you don't want them to do. The "coalition" forces under Bush can't even \find/ the people who have been decapitating the unlucky -- and after Abu Ghraib, boiling even the introvertibly guilty (prove that!) in oil would probably cost all significant "coalition" support.

Bush is a bleeding incompetent who picked the wrong fight and, by your parameters, lost it. Why any military man would support him is beyond me.

pericat ::: (view all by) ::: November 04, 2004, 09:38 PM:

pericat - I didn't mean to give too strong an endorsement to the idea that being feared is a good thing. But I think that there's an element of human nature that enjoys being at the top of the pecking order.

Oh, I didn't think you did. But that does lead to Yet Another Issue I have with Bush and the neocons. Most everyone entertains little fantasies about getting everything they want just for the asking, but past a certain (single-digit) age, they set those aside and get on with doing the work, making the calls, setting up the meetings, and so on, that have to be done for them to eventually get what they really want.

Shrub ain't never had to do that; his idea of negotiating with others is, 'your money or your life.' This is Ed Becerra's fear-based diplomacy as it works out in the real world: blatant thuggery. Supporters like to think it cuts to the chase, gets stuff done, that it's decisive and efficient and no-nonsense, and most of all, it's not wimpy. It feels so good, checking off all those items on The List (before lunch,even), they don't want to hear that all they've actually managed to do is to get the survivors mad at them.

Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:21 AM:

"I do think it's clear that an alarmingly high percentage are [things], and another alarmingly high percentage are prepared to act on Thing-generated arguments."

Patrick, I think it's a fairly small percentage who are things, and, in our culture and media environment, it is damnably easy to stampede people. The PIPA polls show that a great many people simply do not believe many of the worst things about the Bush administration, and believe many of the Bush administrations falsehoods. So I don't think our people are as bad as all that. The problem I see, by and large, is that the problems are not yet real to the people who support the Bush administration.

It may not matter. I don't mean this is going to be easy, but there are some big-ass--are those chickens? Oh, wait, I see scales--somethings coming home to roost: the draft, currency shifts, inflation, nasty changes in Social Security. When the public encounters them, there's likely to be a sizeable reaction.

Which isn't going to undo all the harm the Bush administration is doing, unfortunately. But it will weaken them and may even see them quickly out of power.

Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 04:30 AM:

It's not enough to be against.

The theocrats haven't got where they are by being against complexity, trade, and the general increase in access to choice; they've got there by being for simplicity and a 'return to a natural life'.

Never mind that it's a bogus simplicity and a value of natural that's purely fictional; given a choice between something that makes them feel better about themselves, and something that makes them feel like a bad person, people will naturally prefer the former.

Why do you think the attack on the ideal of progress and an increased access to choice -- more people having opportunity to do more things -- is so consistent?

Same with rigour; can't have that, because if you use that it becomes obvious that the 'simple, natural' position is wrong. (Indefensible. Cone-headed lunacy. Whatever.)

I'm not going to try to give anybody in the States tactical advice (beyond hoping you've all taken steps to get any savings you might have out of dollar denominated assets and into something that will do better in a global currency crisis), but sure, there's a way ahead.

Keep in mind that your side has most of the technical ability, most of the import-replacing economy, the numeracy, and the world view that can actually handle the complexity management for a post-industrial culture. You're not the side that's terrified of having to change, or willing to commit any stupidity rather than acknowledge that axioms need changing when the world changes. (They may not be scared of you, personally, but they're terrified of living in a world where their moral absolutes don't make sense. You can't translate the precepts of neolithic nomadic sheep-herders into this future and have them make sense; you can admit that, and get on with life and a more complex theology that gives up its absolutes, or you can wreck the place until the sheep-herding axioms do make sense.)

Organization is what triumphs in conflicts. Organization rests on ability to handle complexity.

So, you know, once the good guys -- and yes, the party of prosperity and opportunity is the good guys -- recognize that this isn't a problem of compromise and collegiality and policy dispute, but an actual ass-kicking contest, you can expect to win it.

DM SHERWOOD ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 05:53 AM:

Yeah it could be the Dream is over. Remember the good times

Anna Feruglio Dal Dan ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:39 AM:

I'm watching the news on the Italian TV right now. To my everlasting relief, the US election is not headline material any longer. They are gleefully speaking about other messes, like the Mess in the Middle East and the Mess O Potamia.

I derive a small measure of comfort in being finally able to tell explicitly what I kept quiet about earlier: Kerry's plan for solving the mess in Iraq had no hope in hell of succeeding. The nations who went along with Bush hoping to reap political capital (and maybe money) are frantically looking for a way out, and nobody, and I mean nobody, is mad enough to commit other troops to what is obviously a mess that nobody has any idea about how to fix, let alone the means to begin doing it.

Being feared, oh yeah. Americans are feared to the tune of two to five dead every day in their poster-child for a show of imperial might.

Kerry would have been mired in this horror. I'm sitting down comfortably and watching Bush's moves. Of course, it's not as if anybody in their camp is worried about some hundred poor bastards' death, American or, even less, foreigners, but at least it's not our boy making a fool of himself over there.

Meanwhile, the dollar continues to go down compared to the Euro, which is no good thing for Europe but at least makes it easier for me to come over.

Chris Crawford ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 11:15 AM:

My experience as a teacher has led me to the conclusion that you can't make people understand an idea. They learn only what they want to learn. All the rational arguments in the world will not convince Bush supporters of anything; they must have an emotional need that forces them to consider the facts.
We can be certain of one thing: you can't fool Mother Nature. Mr. Bush is wrong in his beliefs about international cooperation, about war, about Iraq, about the Constitution, and many other things. He and his supporters will learn the hard way. Four years from now, Iraq will still be a bloody mess. Mr. Bush can either pull out or hang in there. If he pulls out, then Iraq will descend into chaos, a new dictator will arise, and we'll be right back where we started. If he hangs in there, the steady stream of American casualties will eventually force its way into the consciousness of Bush's supporters. I thought that they could learn their lesson after 1,000 American deaths, but it looks as if they'll need 5,000 to 10,000. Either way, they'll still learn the lesson; the only question is how much blood must be expended to get the point across.
Similarly, Mr. Bush's approach to economic policy will surely lead to economic disaster. The dollar will continue to fall, and GDP growth will remain weak. On the good side, this will put an end to outsourcing jobs; on the bad side, it will be because American workers will earn no more than workers in Third World nations. People couldn't see it coming, but they'll surely see it when it gets here.
In many ways, our problems arise from being too comfortable. There are no genuine crises to truly focus our minds. 9/11 was enough to get Americans mad, but not enough to make them serious; they are cozy enough to indulge in stupid fantasies of military and moral superiority. Once things get bad enough, some of them will snap out of their stupor and start to take our problems seriously enough to think pragmatically rather than ideologically.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:15 PM:

Chris Crawford writes: "9/11 was enough to get Americans mad, but not enough to make them serious."

That's exactly right, and deserves to be widely quoted.

Katherine ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 12:33 PM:

"it was not unusual now to estimate the separate mass of Virginia and N. Carolina with a view to their separate existence. It is true that we are compleatly under the saddle of Massachusets & Connecticut, and that they ride us very hard, cruelly insulting our feelings as well as exhausting our strength and substance. Their natural friends, the three other eastern States, join them from a sort of family pride, and they have the art to divide certain other parts of the Union so as to make use of them to govern the whole. This is not new. It is the old practice of despots to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order, and those who have once got an ascendency and possessed themselves of all the resources of the nation, their revenues and offices, have immense means for retaining their advantages. But our present situation is not a natural one. The body of our countrymen is substantially republican through every part of the Union....

A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to it's true principles. It is true that in the mean time we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war & long oppressions of enormous public debt....If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, & then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are the stake. Better luck, therefore, to us all; and health, happiness, & friendly salutations to yourself."

Letter from Thomas Jefferson, shortly after the Alien and Sedition Acts. The metaphorical witches he had in mind were Washington, Adams and Hamilton, so we probably actually have it worse. But still, reading this helped.

sennoma ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 01:37 PM:

Here's Mark Morford on the subject of digging in:
...one of the most stirring e-mails I received during the outpouring of grief the day after the election was from a young female reader, "an artist, an intellectual and a Jew" who's been living in Mexico and who now says she's so enraged and saddened by the election's ugly outcome that she's preparing to return to the States ASAP, just so she can help, so she can join the resistance, keep the right-wingers from coming after our souls. Now, that's patriotism.

The bottom line: Don't disband the newfound army just because one ugly battle was lost. Mourn, commiserate, lick wounds, lick each other, drink heavily, spit out your stale gum of disappointment and pop in a fresh clove of laughter and spiritual heat and then regroup and sober up and take an even deeper breath and watch in hot wet spiritually emboldened amusement as the cosmic circus unfolds.

It's far from over. The tunnel is just a little darker -- and longer -- than we imagined.

Jim Gardner ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 03:04 PM:

Chris Crawford suggested Bush might pull out of Iraq. Bush is certainly the type to cut and run...but leaving means chaos, and chaos means not getting the oil.

I'm prepared to believe the war wasn't entirely about oil, but let's not be silly. Bush can't withdraw troops until the oil is safe...and that means the oil in Iran and Saudi Arabia as well as Iraq.

In Vietnam, there was nothing at stake except pride. Now that Iraq is in play, potentially destabilizing all Middle-Eastern oil producers, the U.S. can't possibly go home till there's honest-to-goodness stability.


Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 05:02 PM:

It's taken a while for it all to sink in.

You know that feeling that something broke this week? That it wasn't just another election?

I've been looking around and found it articulated by one American socialist, Martin Schreader of The Appeal to Reason, writing in the British dissident-commie Weekly Worker:

Until today, it remained something of a question whether or not the people of the United States would use the ballot as a means of demonstrating their desire to maintain nominally democratic norms. As it stands right now, the question has been answered ... in the negative. The combined power of the corporate media, the corporate parties (and their corporatised labour unions) and a contrived 'culture of fear' have turned the average American voter into a Pavlovian nightmare. The end result has been that the Bush regime, which came to power through a bloodless coup d'etat in 2000, has now been effectively legitimised through a large 'vote of confidence' by over 50 million Americans.

A plurality of Americans has, through their votes, chosen to approve the burial of the second republic in favour of imperialist empire. Their legitimising of the Bush regime and their support for the 'culture war' has irreversibly broken the continuity of American democracy. The process of Weimarisation is complete.

Certain wooden-headed elements of the left will, of course, continue to assert that little, if anything, new has happened as a result of this election. They will continue to see the old institutional facades in place and will impressionistically conclude that all talk of a new period in American history as delusional. They will note that the uniquely American brand of anti-democratic, anti-worker corporatism that has taken hold in Washington does not correspond to what they read in history books and vulgarly conclude that nothing has really changed. In this author's view, these are little more than the echoes of the past and should be treated as such.


Today, I mourn the failure of the 215-year-old 'noble experiment'. The republic is dead: long live the republic!

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 05, 2004, 08:03 PM:

Heard some interesting stuff on the NPR chat shows today.

Most interesting: Rove's allies distributed DVDs full of inflamatory ranting about Adam & Steve to churches.

What could WE send them?

A carefully edited program showing war casualties springs to mind.

A show about middle Americans getting screwed out of high-paying jobs and homes.

A documentary about sweat shops.


Nancy Hanger ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 12:15 AM:

I've been out of it -- quite literally -- since Monday night, because I did an incredibly Stupid Thing.

I fear for many things, not as I feared during previously conservative Republican administrations because this admin seems to be at some polar extreme that calls for new language to be invented. Neocon doesn't seem to do it. Wingnuttery doesn't even seem to fit the bill, to me at least. Perhaps the Theocratic Imperialistic Isolationism Party -- yet TIIP sounds like a new rap group, somehow.

What I fear the most -- and I'm looking for consolation here, guys (really, serious consolation) -- is the economy. With my taxes increasing during the last "tax cut," what will happen next to the working class? Who's going to pay for that great whopping hole a privatized SS system would create? The money's gotta come from somewhere, and we've already been told the tax system will be revamped -- right there on Dubya's front burner of issues.

I'm scared. Food or medicine. It isn't just for "the poor" anymore. (Then, I know many of you know that, like me, firsthand.) I'm scared, I'm despairing, and it ain't going away anytime soon. I can't work. I can't even sleep, and I have a clinical fatigue condition that means I usually sleep 12-16 hours a day.

Kerry wasn't the cure-all for the economy, but he didn't seem to want to actively trash it just because he could as president. Dubya? Wings on a fly.

Consolation? I always said my mother didn't raise a stupid child, but I feel stupid right now for despairing and fearing that which hasn't yet happened, yet the wolf is on my doorstep. And feel even more stupid for asking for consolation -- yet here I am.

Merrill ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 09:45 AM:

Something to remember, and use, when discussing your opinion of why many people holding 'moral values' were mistaken in voting for this Adminstration to continue its work with them.

Solidarity Explained

When the axe first came into the forest
   The trees said to each other
     The handle is one of us.

by Jas H. Duke

LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 11:21 AM:

Ken, that's my biggest fear -- that we've slid too far down the slope to recover our democracy.

What I believe, though -- what I must believe -- is that enough of the structures of democracy still exist in our country for us to grab hold of those structures, wrench them out of the hands of the anti-democratic forces, and reverse the tide. If we stay organized, stay smart, and don't back down.


Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: November 06, 2004, 08:58 PM:

Here's another map, showing a population-proportional county-by-county breakdown of the vote in the presidential election. It also includes a really good histogram, which can be interpreted as showing a decided Democratic America and a larger split America.

Note that Brooklyn is pleasantly large, and pleasantly blue, as are LA, the Bay Area, Chicago and pretty much every non-Texan metro area.

Found via the Apostropher.

Things are not as dire as they may seem.

Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 07, 2004, 12:56 PM:

Read by Garrison Kiellor on his show yesterday, and posted by William Gibson on his blog:

"A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles.

"It is true that in the meantime we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt.

"If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake."

-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter of 1798, after the passage of the Sedition Act.