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A Gentle Suggestion to Traumatized Evangelicals, Brutalized Conservatives, and Disillusioned Republicans

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By now it is safe to say that George W. Bush is a "compassionate conservative" in the sense that Masi Oka is a young man from Japan who can stop time, and that Bush is "a good Christian" in the sense that Hugh Laurie is a brilliant, if somewhat prickly, pathologist.

"How can you say such a thing?" Well, how can you not: Bush's bona fides as compassionate went out the window the moment he resisted the formation of the 9-11 Commission and remained there (i.e., out the window) as New Orleans drowned. Add to that whatever number you're comfortable with for Iraqi deaths in our invasion of a country based on lies (You say 600,000; I say 430,000. Let's call the whole thing awful), and one is left with the conclusion that, if this is "compassion," one will take vanilla.

"Conservative"? Please. The record, skull-crushing deficit. The bone-headed sally into nation-building which, in the event, has proved to be (stuff happens!) nation-destroying. The sheer hypocrisy of politicizing Terry Shiavo. The mud-wrestling free-for-all of billions lost, stolen, and/or squandered in Iraq. An open contempt for science, knowledge, expertise, and truth. The radical disregard of law via "signing statements." The authoritarian two-step (torture, si; habeas corpus, no) demonstrating that Mr. Bush, too, can dance with the stars, if by that we mean such stars as Stalin, Pinochet, and the Argentine generals.

As for Christian, well, the indictment writes itself and makes its own gravy. Tax breaks for the ultra-rich and "heckuva job, Brownie," for the poor. Pre-emptive war against a non-threat. Succor (and more) to the professional haters (Limbaugh, Coulter, Hannity, etc.). Aid and comfort to corporations (Big Pharma, credit card and oil companies) at the expense of actual people. Hypocrisy, corruption, and lies, lies, lies. WWJD = W: Who Jesus'd Deplore.

No wonder you actual compassionates, conservatives, and Christians are recoiling in horror from this president, his administration, and his party. You should, as should anyone who voted for him, and them, in good faith and because of their putative "values." At this point the only people left who believe Bush and his cronies care a damn about any values other than power and wealth are those who really do believe in the supernatural abilities of Oka, who plays Hiro, a hero on Heroes.

But, having extricated yourselves from this moral cesspool of an administration, what are you to do on Tuesday? Whom are you to vote for, or against, or what?

While it's tempting to ask you to vote for Democrats, it's also probably asking too much. You can be forgiven for thinking that your enemy's enemy isn't necessarily your friend, but just a different enemy.

So here is my advice to you: Just Stay Home.

It's cheap, it's easy, and it can (by definition) be done from the comfort of your own home. Or, go to work, and then go home and Just Stay There. Do not vote--individually, in droves, as a family, as a community, as a congregation, as a ruly mob, whatever feels most congenial. This is what is meant by "voting with your feet," in the sense that you prevent your feet from transporting you, and your vote, to the polls.

Certain objections can of course be raised to this piece of counsel, so let's put them out of their misery:

It's unpatriotic not to vote. No. It's unpatriotic not to care. If you care, then you vote either for someone you want or against someone you don't want. If there's no one you want, and if you also don't-want the person you'd have to vote for in order to vote against the person you originally don't want, then not-voting is actually a quite patriotic thing to do.

It's a passive way of letting others determine your political fate. Not quite. Voting-for-its-own- sake-for-people-you-don't-like is, rather, an active way of letting others determine your political fate. The middle ground--voting for write-in candidates you specify--is probably not an option in most precincts. If it is an option, note that your voting for an obscure (or, worse, famous) write-in candidate will probably make less of a statement and have less an effect on the actual real world, than by joining the swelling ranks of those who deliberately don't-vote. No one counts or cares much about the write-ins, which are defined as being from and by (and for) crackpots. But a fall-off in Republican turn-out will be front-page news.

It's lazy. In and of itself, maybe. That's why I'm suggesting that you actively Just Stay Home, and try one of the following actively active activities:

• Go bowling.
• Play Monopoly all day and all night.
• Rent and watch all of I, Claudius while wearing togas made of bedsheets. Then wander around the house or apartment speaking in pseudo-classical-Roman (with, of course, an English accent).
• Clear out and re-paint your leaders and gutters.
• Host a Just Stay Home pot-luck dinner. Make chili for a crowd.
• Take an Election Day hike past various polling places; shoot snapshots of yourselves at each one, not-voting.
• Read some American novel out loud to your family and friends. Suggestions: Moby-Dick; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; Infinite Jest. (Start early.)
• Drink heavily and sing along with Beach Boys hits.
• Play touch football with "all the gang." If you don't have a gang, find one.

Or find some other way to make use of the time and energy you save by not-voting. Whatever you do, Just Stay Home. Don't-vote your conscience. Don't-vote your principles. Don't-vote your values, "values," or Values.

In any case: Just Don't Do It. The people you've admired have lied to you from the start. Your faith has been betrayed, your trust has been abused, your values have been violated, and your allegiance has been manipulated.

You've earned a break.

(And, while you're Just Staying Home, view this:
http://www.vidlit.com/gandl/ )