Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Treatise

I woke up this morning with the remote still in my hand, Chris Matthews still yelling at me on MSNBC, and the presidency all but wrapped up with a bow under Bush's Christmas tree. I haven't cried yet, but I know that once Kerry finally gives a concession speech (which he and Edwards swear won't be until every vote in Ohio is counted), I'll be inconsolable.

Bush won the popular vote. He's going to get the electoral vote, and he's going to be our president for another four years. The fact that his re-election is legitimate is more frightening to me than the specter of another term of potentially deadly decisions on his part. More than half this country voted for Bush.

If this is what it means to be an American, then maybe I just shouldn't be one. I got an e-mail this morning from a kid in my publishing course who is leaving the country, permanently. All I could think about was how Bush's election four years ago was through a loophole in our peculiar system; it is possible for a president to assume leadership of this nation even when the majority of our people vote against him. I tolerated the last four years of fear, ignorance, and leadership based on a faith I do not share because I could still believe that it wasn't truly what the people voted for. This time, there's no arguing with the fact that the majority of American voters wanted him to lead again.

All those red states. If that is what this country believes in, then I don't belong here. I stopped going to church once I got to college because I didn't belong in a place that is intolerant of queer people, oppressive to women, and hateful in its ideology. Similarly, if this is a nation made up of a majority of people who do not believe in civil rights for every citizen, women's reproductive freedom, global cooperation, and leadership detatched from a sense of divine right, I can't be a part of it.

Ten out of eleven states voting on the "definition of marriage" decided that it is only legal between a man and a woman. A senator was elected in South Carolina (of course) who believes that all abortion should be banned, and that queer people and unwed mothers should not legally be allowed to teach in public schools. If it weren't for Barack Obama's overwhelming victory, I'd be sobbing right now.

I don't want to talk much more about this, because it's pretty much all been said more eloquently than I can put it. There are two more things that I want to say, though, because I feel like it bears noting.

1. In exit polls yesterday, New York and New Jersey voters were asked if they feel safer than four years ago. The two states most effected by September 11th, with many of the people killed in the Twin Towers either New York residents or New Jersey commuters, resoundingly cried "no, we do not feel safer." A majority in both states of over 60% answered negatively to the question of safety. Both states elected John Kerry. Additionally, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C., the sites of the other tragic September 11th events, elected Kerry.

To the president who said a terrorist attack would not happen on his watch, and that Americans are safer now than four years ago: it did happen on your watch, and those voters most touched by the attack clearly voiced their feelings on national safety. If you are elected, all I ask is that you do not continue to insist that the American people feel safer with you in command. Forget about Nebraska, and Kansas, and Wyoming, the bastions of your support, and consider that those whom terrorism has touched have told you otherwise.

2. Youth voting has apparently doubled since the last election. In the most recent statistics I can find, this brings it from 7% of the total electorate to roughly 14%. That is the most enraging thing I've read all morning. All that talk of this being the year that young voters finally rally behind a candidate, all the bullshit about finally making a difference so politicians have to acknowledge our concerns, and fourteen fucking percent is all we can come up with. We deserve what we fucking get.

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