Thursday, November 04, 2004

All I Have to Say About That

The last two days were essentially one long day - punctuated by a cat nap between 5-7 am Kiev time on election night, and elongated by a flight westward back to DC. The American delegation was a gloomy, exhausted heap of humanity. We heard the announcement of Kerry's concession on the plane: somewhere over Germany, the pilot came on to say that he had a press release that he would just read verbatim. At the news, I could hear the lonely sound of scant cheers, then the pilot paused for about ten seconds and finished reading in a strained deadpan: "God Bless the United States of America." The man in the seat next to me grumbled to himself, "God help the United States of America."

I think someone in our observation group put it best when he said, "This election is a referendum on my sanity. If the country really wants all this, maybe something is wrong with me."

That's just how I felt yesterday. Numbly homeless. I thought I knew my country. I believed that despite everything, deep down, we all were tolerant people who held our leaders to a high standard and would not cast our vote from fear. I thought, now this administration can feel free to mold this country after their vision, and turn it into a place that I neither recognize nor feel at home in. And it will be accomplished according to the wishes of the majority of voting Americans. It was all very dramatic, and I was utterly despondent. Why bother. Unprecedented mobilization, drive, funding, heart, and the result is worse than four years ago. Lost cause. Checking out.

But today, I got angry. That sadness hardened into a little black ball that can cut glass, and I thought, what am I talking about? Not recognizing my country? I've got 49% on my side, and people have overcome far worse odds than that. I've got 49%, I've got righteous anger, and by God, I've got e-mails from Central Europeans offering their services as experienced revolutionaries.



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