mardi, novembre 09, 2004

What Did We Learn (Last Prelude to Part Two)? The Great Divide

It's time for true sharing. On November 3rd, as I was listening to NPR and driving to work, I stopped at a traffic signal next to a woman in a late model Honda Accord with two bumper stickers.

The first one read something like "Deaths at the hands of Saddam Hussein before the war: 500,000."

The second one read "Deaths at the hands of Saddam Hussein after the war: 0."

And it struck me all at once. The election results were coming in. It seemed bad for my guy Kerry, and here I was next to someone who was proud of her ignorance. Then, I cried. Yep, true sharing. I cried. I was so upset. I couldn't think of why. I didn't cry when Mondale got creamed by Reagan. I didn't even cry when Jimmy Carter lost a bid for a second term. But this time I did.

I care very deeply about America, and I feel very deeply that we have taken a wrong turn. I assumed that was why I was so upset.

But I like Thomas Friedman's explanation too. It is excerpted below.

Well, as Grandma used to say, at least I have my health…

I often begin writing columns by interviewing myself. I did that yesterday, asking myself this: Why didn't I feel totally depressed after George H. W. Bush defeated Michael Dukakis, or even when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore? Why did I wake up feeling deeply troubled yesterday?

Answer: whatever differences I felt with the elder Bush were over what was the right policy. There was much he ultimately did that I ended up admiring. And when George W. Bush was elected four years ago on a platform of compassionate conservatism, after running from the middle, I assumed the same would be true with him. (Wrong.) But what troubled me yesterday was my feeling that this election was tipped because of an outpouring of support for George Bush by people who don't just favor different policies than I do - they favor a whole different kind of America. We don't just disagree on what America should be doing; we disagree on what America is.

Is it a country that does not intrude into people's sexual preferences and the marriage unions they want to make? Is it a country that allows a woman to have control over her body? Is it a country where the line between church and state bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be inviolate? Is it a country where religion doesn't trump science? And, most important, is it a country whose president mobilizes its deep moral energies to unite us - instead of dividing us from one another and from the world?

At one level this election was about nothing. None of the real problems facing the nation were really discussed. But at another level, without warning, it actually became about everything. Partly that happened because so many Supreme Court seats are at stake, and partly because Mr. Bush's base is pushing so hard to legislate social issues and extend the boundaries of religion that it felt as if we were rewriting the Constitution, not electing a president. I felt as if I registered to vote, but when I showed up the Constitutional Convention broke out...

This is the last prelude to part two. The actual narrative for part two is coming soon. All of this is my way of trying to keep it somewhat brief by passing it along in chewable bites.