That’s it. It’s over. Kerry has conceded. George W. Bush has been elected again for the first time.
Needless to say, this is a very difficult moment for me. I wasn’t personally involved in any of this. Being in Montréal, I’ve been able to observe everything from an out-of-body distance. The nation of my birth has troubled me more and more since Bush came into office, and most especially after 11th September 2001. I remember going home for the first time after 9/11, in December 2001. I actually flew home because it was so inexpensive. 45 minutes in the air is a hell of a lot easier than 8 hours on a bus. I was nervous but I had faith. Besides, who would blow up a little Air Canada jet? After collecting my bags, I stepped out onto the curb to look for my parents. Up they drove in their enormous Ford Expedition (Eddie Bauer Edition). Already, it sported an airbrushed vanity plate that declared ‘Freedom will be defended’ against a background of a bald eagle and the American flag. They had a flag on the antenna. Massachusetts had already released their official vanity plates and there was one of those on the back declaring ‘United we stand.’
My mother and stepfather have never claimed to be whole-hearted Bush supporters, but they’re the kind of people that worry me the most: they blow with the wind. Although they claimed not to support Bush, they immediately bought into the patriotic goose stepping that was called for after 9/11. Dissent quickly became unpatriotic. That is, perhaps, the most frightening aspect of Bush’s America.
The only thing in my mind that can account for what’s going on is pure and simple apathy. Although there may have been record turn-out yesterday, the majority–even if it’s an ever so slight majority–of the nation just doesn’t care enough to question what they are fed. Cheney declared that if Kerry were elected, the nation would almost certainly suffer another terrorist attack. What the nation doesn’t understand is that Bush&Co themselves have committed a terrorist attack far worse than that of 9/11. They are attacking the very foundations of the nation. I don’t even want to think about what four more years of Bush will mean for the nation or for the world for that matter. It’s simply too painful to think about right now.
The nation is clearly deeply divided. This is perhaps surprising considering the amount of pulling together that seemed to happen after 9/11. The problem is, though, that the Republicans now hold control of the entire government. Giuliani was on ABC at one point last night and suggested that whoever won would have to do a lot of bringing together. I simply don’t see the Republicans as doing this: why should they? They now have a popular mandate–51% it’s true, but that’s the first majority mandate that a president has received in over a decade.
I am deeply conflicted right now about my own future–never mind that of the nation. It frightens me to think that I might be moving back to the states in a few months. And yet I wonder if maybe that’s where I need to be. The odd thing about this election is that it has, in a way, awakened some kind of patriotism within me. There is great promise in the founding promises of the United States.
The nation survived Nixon.
The nation survived Reagan.
Can the nation survive Bush?
The GOP tried to impeach Clinton because of a dirty dress.
Two years are a long time to wait. And yet if the Democrats can get their act together during the next two years and make decisive gains in the mid-term elections, Bush is impeachable on a lot more than a dirty dress. A lot can happen in two years. A lot.
There has been a lot of talk, particularly over at Daily Kos, about the death of the Democratic Party in its current state. The party is ripe for reformation. It desperately needs to draw itself together and find its base and its message. For the sake of the nation and for the sake of the world. Almost half the nation supported Kerry. It’s difficult to know if it was based on support of the Democrats or an anti-Bush sentiment.
I think that this election decisively shows that the US is tacking significantly more to the right than Europe or Canada. Any new Democratic party would necessarily have to run towards centre. I’ve always been more of a leftist, to be sure, but I’m starting to wonder if I need to return to the nation of my birth to help save it.
I’m too conflicted about it all right now to say for sure. But I feel too strongly about the future not to consider it at all.