Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Dixie Liberal Blues

Without meaning to, we had really gotten my kids worked up about the election and John Kerry. They helped us put the stickers on the bumpers, and stake the signs out in the yard. They kept an ear open for mentions of the candidates' names on TV or the radio, and checked the morning paper for their pictures. They spoke Kerry's name with delight, and Bush's name with cartoonish disdain, like a foul substance they were trying to spit out. They drew pictures of Kerry or for Kerry, one of which they insisted I mail to him, which I did, at his campaign office in Washington. My oldest was excited that Kerry won the mock election in her fifth-grade class. (This may be a red state, but by God, my kids go to a blue school.) My youngest, who is four, told me confidentially that she was thinking about marrying John Kerry.

So I was a little worried about how they would take the news this morning. I needn't have been. "Did John Kerry win? He didn't? What's for breakfast?" Having small kids can be great for taking your mind off stuff.

Let me say I feel really fucking stupid about the post below this one, written on Election Eve. I expressed rather nakedly and childishly the hope that America is a liberal country at heart. In 2000 we were indignant--we felt cheated by the Republicans, and ill-served by the media. In 2004 we were mobilized and largely ready for those things. The masses heard the Kerry message and the Bush message, and they chose the Bush message. There aren't many "if onlys" today, mostly just a cold, heavy realization that the problem is with us. Or else it's with them. Or with the fact that there's an us and a them.

In the car, where ALL your heavy duty talks with your children take place, H*****, the fifth grader, asked me about the differences between the parties: Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian (the three on our ballot). My answer rambled on for five minutes or so, talking about the role of government, activist or minimalist and so on. Then I added: "Then there's also the Green Party. They really care about the environment." (Come on, I couldn't let the Libertarians be the only counter-culture party out there.) Anyway, as you might have guessed, I seem to have raised a Green Party supporter.

I think I mentioned I was a poll greeter at my precinct for the Democrats. It was a mixed experience. It's dull work, certainly, but I see the value of it, as well as that of the volunteer poll observers and drivers and canvassers. There were lots of good intentions and energy on display, though organization fell down in some ways. My co-volunteers were nice folks: disaffected Dixie liberals like myself. I see things I could have done better, ways I could have been bolder. There was some gamesmanship by our Republican greeter counterparts, which maybe I should have confronted more aggressively. Guess I shouldn't bear our red state shame entirely on my own shoulders.

I took the signs out of the yard today. I wonder how long I'll keep the bumper stickers on the car.

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