The Botereid

Thursday, November 04, 2004

And now, the bitterness...

I took a six hour nap yesterday to convalesce. A mere interest in our nation can be hard on the body. But now it's the melancholy rather than the fatigue that's set in.

Kerry conceded gracefully, even warmly. Laugh if you will, damn me if you will, but this seemed to be the highlight of his campaign: he never seemed more human than yesterday. For this alone we can remember him with some warmth.

I knew about the concession before going to school. I mentioned it to my professor after class. He said curtly that he already knew. I had a favor to ask -- extension on a paper -- so I tried to explain that I was up all night watching the results. "I'm somewhat addicted to politics," I said. "Yeah," he said, "I stopped watching around eleven-thirty or twelve. It was pretty clear which way it was going." I nodded and responded that (despite my posts to the contrary) I had held out a little hope right up until Ohio was wrapping up. "It's days like this," he said, his voice sharpening, "that I don't even know why we have a fucking democracy. It just doesn't work."

It does, I thought, though I understood the emotion. It just didn't work too well this time. Kerry, I believe, would have made a better president. My instinct and my reason tell me that. I believe the US made the wrong choice there, despite Andrew Sullivan's claim to the people's "deep wisdom." Yet what would I take in exchange for our form of government? While I can see improvements that need to be made, as far as full swaps go the alternatives are slim pickings. As Churchill said, this is the worst form of government besides everything else.

I got home and saw an email from a good friend, one of the most intelligent, level-headed, and decent that I know. It's a complete screed, which I won't print because it's so vehement that I think he wouldn't appreciate me putting it here, though the tone is such that for the next few weeks I'm sure he wouldn't care if I did. I've never seen anything like it from him. It hit me hard.

I said that I already support Bush on what needs to be done. I do. But let me defend myself for a moment. Why will I recommit myself to supporting the President? I didn't support his election after all. Yes, but it's contingent on something I said yesterday: the president's fortune is our fortune. We have him for four more years. We need to have some hope.

I don't admire President Bush's intelligence or wisdom, but I believe that he does want what's best for the nation. This "best" I may not entirely agree with, but I believe that we can agree on problems enough for more than a few presidential terms. It's here that we need to work. Are we going to waste these four years on accusations and recriminations? I've got to give Bush a chance at a fresh start. He's going to be there regardless. It seems to be the optimist's only choice.

So what scares me is that I'm not sure Bush is going to listen. Many people out there are sure that's he's not. The emails Sullivan is posting today are alternately disgusting and heartbreaking. In the face of nobility, some on the victor's side are revealing themselves as pigs. I refuse to be one, even if I get spit in the face. But...well, Jon Stewart said something last night that I have to agree with. He said that he never understood the Culture War until today, until looking at that map. I have to agree with that. While there are so many things that pull this nation together, modernity keeps working to batter it apart. I believe in reflection, science, and I have no faith in a god. The beauty of America is that I should be able to live in peace next to someone who objects to all that. It feels today like that's no longer the case.

Lotta leaves on the ground already. Seems as if autumn has flown by night. I swear the colors were only up on the trees for a day or two. But at least the sky is refulgent. Can't forget that. Not like the cold. Three years in Miami and I'd definitely forgotten what that felt like. But I'll dress warmly and hope that it passes quick.


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