Tuesday, November 09, 2004

What Ails Us

I was walking in the woods today with the dogs and jumping into the piles of yellow leaves everywhere. They crunch most satisfactorily under the boots. It was quiet, except for my crunching and the dogs darting through the underbrush and the everpresent sounds of trees slowly breathing. Nary a wingnut anywhere!

While walking I psychoanalyzed myself and the rest of the liberals that I know, and my conclusion is that we suffer from an utter feeling of powerlessness right now. We worked so hard and achieved so much in a very short amount of time. Many of us gave more money and time than we really had, many of us spent time persuading others to vote or writing letters to the media. Unless one is as old as I am (thousands of years, actually), it may be hard to even remember another era when the liberals were rising. And the signs seemed to support us: the expressions on the faces of Bush and his henchmen, the way the sleek opportunists in the media suddenly started talking our talk, even many polls and exit polls, the voter registration news. Also, the facts were on our side: Bush decided to avenge 9/11 on people that had nothing to do with it (Iraq) and made a mess of it. This cost hundreds of thousand of lives. He has lost more jobs than any president for decades, and he has brought in laws which might limit our freedoms except that we don't even know if this happened. He has condoned torture and illegal imprisonment, he has increased the income inequality in this country and even abortion rates rose during the four years of his presidency.

All this seemed so obvious that it was hard for anyone still trusting in the idea of democracy not to be optimistic, despite the knowledge we had that the Republican machinery is everywhere, that the media are scared of its very shadow (except for the parts which are openly pro-Bush) and that the Democratic party is a wimpy shadow of courage inside a bloated pro-corporate facade.

When you regard all this, the election results amount to a total disempowerment: a reduction of every chance we had into nothing. Either the majority in this country did not care about the facts at all or it decided that keeping a wartime president, however terrible was more important than anything else or it is too ignorant to bother with learning anything and votes for whoever has more sound bites or the fundamentalists have indeed started a theocracy which will run our lives from now on. Or the election was rigged.

It doesn't matter for the emotional purposes which of these took place: all of the reasons will result in this feeling that we don't matter, I don't matter, our values and our striving and the facts don't matter. Not only that, but the media conclusions about the election results are the exact opposite: that we do matter but only in the sense of being immoral, depraved and extremist, in the sense of presenting a suitable target for all the hatred of the fundamentalists and free-marketers.

It is human to feel as if having been run over by a tank. Even goddesses feel some pain here. And just like after any major trauma thinking about the issues doesn't really help the pain. Only time will tell what actually happened, if anything ever will be known. But in the meantime, while we are holding our pain and trying to breathe the wingnuts are goosestepping on with renewed vigor.

I have no solution to any of this. It's natural to feel horrible right now, but I'm not sure if we have the time that would be needed for this. So I alternate between bouts of activity and bouts of making holes in the walls. Maybe you can find your own patent remedies.