The mid-term elections - yippee, yippee, yippee! Better than I even hoped.
I have been unable to post anything since the day of the elections. My usual daily routine of lolling about in bed, eating bon bons and writing opinions for the Huffington Post has been interrupted by teaching more classes than usual, and by attending auditions for a musical I've written (with composer Peter Melnick).
So I haven't been able to let out a yelp of hooray in print so far.
HOOOOORAAAAAAY!!! Yippee, yippee, yippee.
The Democrats gained the House AND the Senate. Thank goodness. I have felt so alienated in my own country, so disenfranchised. I've lived through Republican presidents before, but this has been seriously AWFUL.
Of course the nightmare isn't over yet. Seymour Hersh is warning us that Cheney is pushing for us to bomb Iran, to save his and Bush's "legacy" and because the most effective weapon ever to stop violence is more violence. It really works.
If only Martin Luther King hadn't counseled his followers to embrace non-violence, when the African American little girls were killed in Montgomery, Alabama, if only he had encouraged blacks to attack white people and kill their children instead - well, think how good race relations would be today! If only Bush and Cheney could have shown blacks the power of STANDING UP TO YOUR ENEMY. It always works. Violence doesn't beget violence. Violence brings about peace. And encourages the loving of freedom. That's why Iraq is so going so well. And pre-emptive war, based on guessing who may attack sometime, is also pretty nifty. (Though only we are allowed to do it. Because we're good. Others can't do it, because they're bad.)
Plus, of course, it's great to spread freedom by invading some country. That also always works.
The last six years have been hell to live through in this country. I am speechless with upset and anger and worry for the country, cause we're not through it yet.
However, a big chunk of the country finally woke up.
Democrats were joined by independents and moderates and Republicans who finally could no longer stomach the way Bush has eviscerated everything the Republicans used to stand for. (It was a pleasure to watch conservative Andrew Sullivan go on TV - rather repeatedly - and publicly disassociate himself from this band of hooligans passing as Republicans. And there have been other Republicans as well who have also spoken out during the run-up to the elections.)
The polls were so bad for Bush and for the Republican Congress that I couldn't believe we wouldn't at least win the House.
But I wasn't as sure about the Senate.
And then in the last two weeks, I got freaked out by how calm Bush and Karl Rove seemed about their chances. I didn't know if their attitude was bluster, or if they were in denial; or if they knew something we didn't.
And I have to admit I had a bad core belief that I think a lot of liberals have had: In my gut, I sort of believed that Karl Rove was omnipotent.
It was like all his dirty tricks WORKED (and his trickiness and dishonesty were also greatly admired in the media; WINNING is now the core American value; fair play is for sissies is the new morality).
So in terms of the Senate races - in difficult states for Democrats, many of them - I thought all Karl Rove had to do was have someone go on TV and scream "gay marriage!" a few times, and then throw in "Democrats will raise your taxes!" and then yell "the terrorists are coming, the terrorists are coming!" - and all the voters furious with the direction the country was going in would be instantly hypnotized, and they'd vote to keep these nightmare people in office.
For a while, in my freaked-out state I kept thinking that Karl Rove was actually the Dark Lord Sauron from Lord of the Rings. And we didn't have any Gandalfs in the Democratic party. (Actually I guess it's more Dick Cheney who is Sauron. Maybe Rove is Gollum.)
I voted early in Pennsylvania. It was pretty crowded for my little town polling place. And I saw a lot of my neighbors, also early, also very "up" for voting. My area is pretty 50/50 Democrat/Republican, though the state went for both Gore and Kerry in 2000 and 2004.
We used a new paperless computer voting machine. If there needed to be a recount, there was no way to do one.
We must solve the computer voting problem. We at least have to get paper trails on the computer voting machines - to protect BOTH Democrats and Republicans. (I am angry with Democratic governor Ed Rendell, though I voted for him. Could he not have insisted on paper ballots, as the governors of Maryland and New Mexico did?)
Those who accuse us Democrats of caring about voter fraud only if it goes against us are unjust. I honestly want there to be recount possibilities for any election, to protect all voters.
Plus, I must say, it's the Republicans, mostly, who have not been big on actual vote counting ever since Katherine Harris strode out there as Florida's Secretary of State, looking like Cruella DeVille, and said she had "considered" the issue as the law required, and that now the vote counting should stop. Indeed, "stop counting, we're ahead!" was pretty much the mantra of Republicans in Florida in 2000. The media thought that was just fine, though they seemed to think Al Gore wanting a recount made him a complainer.
People say, "Get over that election." I say, No I won't. F--k you.
I'm sorry, Thanksgiving, the good news about the election. I shouldn't use the F-dash-dash-K word.
The day after the election, I was in faculty housing in NYC, and that day and night, there were 6 close Senate races still being counted, and the Democrats had to win ALL 6 of them to take back the Senate.
Because of Karl Rove's magical powers, I couldn't see how we could possibly take back 6.
Though who would've thought the "macaca man" would be in a close race? And he even had that period whem he said he wasn't Jewish, and then admitted he was part Jewish, but just hadn't known until recently, so he thought... hey, I'll deny it! Hmmm, odd. And he was considered to be a presidential hopeful down the line. Him and Rick Santorum. Wow.
Well, I guess a party that likes George W. Bush can like anybody. Maybe next time out they should elect a stem cell. Or a fetus. Maybe run a ticket of a fetus for president, and a stem cell for vice president. Their conservative base, presumably, would be energized by this.
When I went to bed, there were only two Senate races still outstanding, and I couldn't believe the Democrats would win them. They were really close.
I was thrilled the next day when I learned the Democrats had won the two races. Suddenly it struck me how incredibly strong the country's rebuke to Bush and his nightmarish presidency was.
I felt so relieved. I have not trusted or believed George W. Bush from about the third week of his presidency. (In the 2000 campaign he seemed lackluster, but not a radical. Little did we know.)
Even at his supposed high point, wearing a hard hat at Ground Zero and giving a worker a hug, I didn't get on board. Do you remember his flying around scared the day of 9/11? Sure it's human to be scared; but remember Ronald Reagan cracking jokes right after he was shot? And, of course, Giuliani did lead immediately, and didn't show or seem to have fear, he went into believable and admirable leadership overdrive.
Also does anyone remember that Bush made a public statement from the White House a couple days after 9/11? (It was before he went to Ground Zero.) It was a meandering, fuzzy, scared, inarticulate little speech he gave. Does anyone remember it? It was pathetic. Scared, and shell shocked.
He got his public persona together a few days later. And then he added the "dead or alive" swagger. And then he invaded that other country that had nothing to do with 9/11. But made it sound like it did. He would say sentences like "Saddam is a terrible person; we must stand up against the terrorists." See -- he didn't SAY Saddam was connected with the terrorists; he just put them side by side in a sentence. That's how he did it.
So it was so great to have so many in the country finally see through him - the war dragging on and getting worse and creating MORE terrorists; Katrina, Harriet Miers, the Dubai port deal, the cumulative realization of massive incompetence - it finally was inescapable to most people.
So... I really breathed easier after the election. That 51 to 48 percentage difference that Bush had in 2004 - it's shifted, thank goodness. Some of those who were hoodwinked into thinking he would protect them and their families saw they were wrong. And the balance in the country has changed, at least for now.
SO I AM GRATEFUL. IT'S THANKSGIVING, AND I'M GRATEFUL.
Since you asked, some brief personal thoughts on Thanksgiving.
Holidays were always hell for me as a child. Christmas and New Years Eve were about the angry non-alcoholics trying stop the in-denial alcoholics from getting drunk.
Separated by only a week, Christmas and New Years visits to relatives and friends were like an unending series of drinking opportunities for the seriously thirsty. Throw in a couple of dry drunk relatives too - that is, they were sober but still acting crazy anyway - and those holidays were just waiting for the Big Emotional Explosion to happen. Which day would the explosion and shouting and crying take place on? Christmas Eve, preparing the presents? Christmas Day, arguing whether a drunk person should drive in the snow and ice? New Years Eve at a party, or drinking in the basement. Sigh, I am a worrier to this day.
Thanksgiving was shorter, and easier to enjoy. There wasn't the tradition of "Christmas cheer" (catnip for alkies). Thanksgiving was more about eating, and it didn't have the enormous emotional baggage of Christmas - which was meant to be so very joyful and fun and full of presents, blah blah; and New Years Eve which is all about how great your life's been going, and how next year it will be even better.
Thanksgiving was more modest. Indians and Pilgrims, at peace, and sharing corn or something. Being grateful, which is a nice and valuable emotion. And I also liked the candied sweet potatoes. Whoever thought of putting melted marshmallows on top of yellow potatoes certainly knew how to please a child.