shake that cola drag

The office-block persecution affinity.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

I have had the best part of a day to get used to things. Unfortunately Bush's re-election (gah! did I just type that?) has coincided almost precisely with the most purely mentally unbalanced days of my menstrual cycle. You want a snappy, crazy, angry, depressed, USA-politics obsessed and often tearful person to discuss the issues with? Oh, I got your irrationality right here, motherfucker! Bring it ON.

This may be extremely stupid - in fact, it's probably utterly illogical - but I've always had a feeling that despite the actions of its government, most people in the USA would eventually be able to work out that some actions and policies are a really huge mistake and they should stop doing them. And so, given the sheer horror of several things which have happened in the last four years at the behest of a US government with no clear mandate from the public, I was pretty much convinced that stuff would work out OK this election (where 'OK' reads 'another millionaire politician, but one who doesn't totally suck, wins!'). Instead, I was blinded by the leftist web and the galvanised grassroots campaigns; I knew that a whole lot of people thought more or less like me, but I didn't take into account how many people *didn't* think like me. And I should have. Look who I'm related to! My American family comes from a town in rural Louisiana so small that it takes forever to get to from an interstate and you can drive through it in less than a minute! (Yet they still have a black side of town and a white side of town, naturally.) I'm not the kind of leftie who never even meets Republicans socially, in other words. Most of my relatives (and Brent's too) have lived in trailers and go to church and sometimes hunt and hate Clinton with a passion and listen to shitty Nashville country and pop out babies like they were going out of style, and yet I still think they're fun to be around. (Oh yes, there's a little portable TV sitting on top of a big cabinet TV in their living rooms. Were you in any doubt?) I don't think they're 'bad people', either, because they've always been very kind to me. Even if I am a dirty commie.

But. But. But. I just assumed things. I assumed that they wouldn't want their children to be drafted, I assumed they thought the war was a big mistake, I assumed they wouldn't want their jobs outsourced, I assumed that Bush not catching Bin Laden would count *against* him, not *for* him, I assumed that Kerry kicking Dubya's ass in three debates would convince them. I wasn't retarded enough to assume that they would care about what people in other countries thought (although I wish they did), or that they would seriously inform themselves about issues and policies (because apparently nobody does. See a previous blog entry of disillusionment down there somewhere).

I missed two completely crucial things. 1) That a lot of people in the USA are terribly scared by the possibility of terrorism, and that fear makes them even more illogical than usual. And Bush is associated with 'strong leadership' in their minds, no matter how ridiculous that sounds to us. 2) That fundamentalist Christians vote primarily based on 'morality'. Yes, they do. They voted in eleven states to ban gay marriage. They want abortion outlawed. They really, really care about this shit. (I, of course, favour marrying whoever and whatever you want. Marry a stalk of celery, if you can get a ring to fit. Go for your life.) They seriously think that two gay men vowing their love for each other in a public place is worse/more important than tens of thousands of lives lost in a war entered into under false pretences. I don't know why they care, and I don't know how to make them stop caring (short of sending them to a new family-friendly San Francisco theme park a la Mr. Show). So this election was won on two truly convincing platforms: fear and bigotry. How do you run successfully against fear and bigotry?

This realisation was what made me so depressed all day long. And my depression has been exacerbated by people in a few web-places I frequent (I'm sure some of you have noticed my snotty retorts therein) saying 'oh, it's just the south, they're a bunch of rednecks down there anyway, the blue states are the enlightened ones'. Look at the numbers. 40.5% of New York voted for Bush. 49% of Minnesota. 44% of California. 46% of Washington and Oregon and New Jersey. 48% of Pennsylvania. Why are you so complacent and superior? And the red states, the ones you're publicly despising for being morons, are filled with millions of *Kerry* voters who are totally ignored. 38% of Texans. 42% of Louisianians and Tennesseeans. My friend in Houston sent me her 'top five things said in the history TAs' office today':

"Is 9:30 too early to start drinking?"
"I wore my ass-kicking shoes today, and I'm looking for a fight."
"Oh for the days of Richard Nixon!"
"I haven't felt this bad since McGovern lost, and at least I knew he was
going to lose."
"Well, I have to go lecture today on how a president can lie to his country
to get us involved in a war in Iraq... I mean Mexico."

Oh listen! Did you hear that? The voices of disappointed *southerners*. This is way more complex than 'the coasts are right, the south is wrong' and leftists acting like elitist asshats is not going to help us in the long run. The Republicans are everywhere, in every state, and they are apparently currently run not by fiscal conservatives, but by fundamentalists who won the rhetoric war a long time ago. How do we take the narrative back? There must be some way, surely... but I'm pretty despairing right now. So many of these people are proudly ignorant xenophobes with a tenuous grasp on reality. Even if they do make a fine turkey pot pie.

It occurs to me during my rare moments of perspective that I live in another country altogether. A country seven thousand miles away in which a group of Bush supporters would look like that Larsen cartoon of the Didn't Like Dances With Wolves Club. But the USA's direction affects us (I was surrounded by depressed people at work today), and besides, I have the passport, the plans to spend Christmas with the Republican relatives, the husband, and the obsession with pop culture and rampant consumerism. I can put on my American hat occasionally. :)

On the bus on the way home today I mentally listed cool things about America which I could break out in all the arguments I'm going to have with people for the next few years. Aretha and Otis and Booker T and Al Green. The Chrysler building. Feminism's second wave. Phil Spector. It's a Wonderful Life. Elvis. Memphis. The French Quarter. Martin Luther King Jr. Singin' in the Rain. Frank Lloyd Wright. Baseball. Tex-Mex. Frank Sinatra. Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong and Gershwin and Porter and the Great goddamned American Songbook. The New Deal and FDR. Wigstock. Ali. Blondie. The Flaming Lips. The Godfather I and II. Truman Capote. To Kill a Mockingbird. Curtis Mayfield. The Coen Brothers. Smokey Robinson.... The list lasted all the way home for an hour and I never stopped thinking of fantastic and wondrous stuff. It was the only way in which I was comforted at all today.

To coin a phrase, meh. Four more fucking years. Thanks, fundies.


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