thoughts on the election

The following, with a few minor edits, is the note that I sent out to the other MoveOn volunteers in my precinct earlier today.

I know it’s probably of little consolation, but, in part due to our efforts here in Ypsilanti, John Kerry won a tight race in Michigan. So, whatever the final outcome of this election, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we were part of the team that kept Michigan from turning red. The right’s appeal to the basest human instincts of fear, greed, and intolerance were not successful here, in spite of the dollars that were spent to cloud the issues and spin reality. If nothing else, that’s something to be proud of.

In the coming days, we’ll no doubt be hearing conspiracy theories concerning the election, and, specifically, the fact that the exit polls in Ohio were predicting Kerry as the clear winner, when the results of the electronic voting machines inside were indicating a win for Bush. We’ll also be hearing a number of our likeminded friends and neighbors discussing what you might call, long, or perhaps even permanent, “vacations up north.” Some might even call for an amicable secession from the faith-based states by those of us who, somewhat pigheadedly, demand to dwell in reality. I’m sure I’ll be obsessively following these developments along with the rest of you, as Linette and I try to map out a course of action for our family that we feel comfortable with.

For those of you who weren’t with us as the polls closed last night, it looks as though our efforts were directly responsible for bringing in 102 votes from people in our community who either hadn’t voted in the past, or hadn’t done so consistently. The final results of the national election should take nothing away from the importance of that achievement. Grassroots political activism in this case worked, and worked well… From the family seen voting only after having told two of our canvassing teams that they’d done so already, to the woman who ran outside her home, after seeing Barbara walking up her street with a “Kerry” sign, to ask if her mother and husband could still vote even though they’d requested absentee ballots (that hadn’t come), the day was full of little success stories. And, taken together, they made a big difference. We got people, lots of people, to the polls that wouldn’t normally have turned out, and we should be proud of that… Dare I say, if every American precinct had a team like ours, we’d be counting down the days to the Kerry inauguration right now instead of contemplating how Bush might further push his agenda now that he has the “mandate” of the people.

And that, my friends, is what worries me the most… The last time, in 2000, I could console myself with the knowledge that the election had been stolen in Florida. This time, however, it looks like a majority of voting Americans, regardless of what might have happened in Florida or Ohio, really wanted this man as their president. The thought that my fellow Americans would prefer to buy into the carefully constructed myth of Bush as the moral Christian warrior against “evil-doers,” instead of examining the complexities of the issues we face as a nation, is absolutely appalling. (And, I thinik, it speaks very poorly of our public education system.)

So, it looks like we are destined to spend the next four years slashing taxes and services, rolling back the Bill of Rights, imposing “Christian” values, and waging preemptive wars, instead of cutting our dependence on foreign oil, building strong international alliances in order to secure the world’s nuclear materials, and protecting our civil rights and our environment. The middle class, which has made our country so strong in the past, will continue to erode. Religious groups, flexing their muscles, will begin calling for advertisers to pull their support from “immoral” television shows like “Will and Grace.” Roe v. Wade, despite what the President says about there not being a “litmus test” for Justices of the Supreme Court, will be rolled back. (The effects of this, of course, will only be felt by those unable to afford the round-trip ticket to Sweden.)… I could go on and on with these scenarios, but I’m sure you get the gist of what I’m trying to say. America, at least in my opinion, is accelerating toward a cliff, and our fellow citizens either don’t notice or don’t care.

So, what do we do? Where do we begin? Is Canada an option? (Should I look into emigrating back to Sweden, the land of my forefathers?) Or, perhaps, should we push for a formal separation between the red and the blue states? Last night, it occurred to me that I could begin championing a movement on-line to keep “blue dollars” in “blue states.” If nothing else is working, I thought, why not use the economic muscle of the blue states to achieve change, much the same as we did with South Africa (over the objections of Dick Cheney, I might add)… If I decide to start with a tourism boycott, I’ll let you know.

Again, thank you for your efforts. Yesterday, until I got home and turned on the TV, was one of the best days of my life. (14 hours in the cold rain has never felt so good.) I really thought that we’d done it. I really thought that we not only beat Bush, but that we’d done so decisively. I came home thinking that I’d played a part in taking our country back. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case… Now, I’m just wondering if there’s any stopping the religious right. If we can’t beat Bush, who is so clearly the wrong man for our country, I wonder, can we ever win?

Thank you again for your time and your efforts. It’s comforting to know that people like you exist out there.

Now, what do you say we load up a few vans, and head over into the faith-based fantasyland? I hear they’re having a party.

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  1. arun
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    you should be proud mark. it is only you and all the other people who committed so much time, energy and money that is tempering my intense loathing for the general public.

    i found this at Steve Gilliard’s News Blog:
    and am forwarding it to your readers. i am still too devastated to be swayed, but maybe i will come to believe it.

    It’s as simple as this: we have to continue to fight. If Bush wins, and they’re starting to call it for him in Ohio, we do not walk away, we do not quit and we do not surrender.

    Whether that’s marching, or in court or in the next election cycle, we learn from our mistakes, and there is no Nader to blame this time, and move on.

    And Kerry did his best, just like we all did. But sometimes your best will fall short. Remember, Nixon won in a landslide and he was was gone in two years.

    I don’t know what happened. Whether there was chicanery or not. I can’t say. I watched it like you did. But we did our best.

    Now, we build. When Goldwater lost, he didn’t quit, he built a movement. And win or lose, that is what we will do. We will build and we will fight. If we win, we’d have to fight anyway. And if we lose, we have to fight.

    Am I depressed? A little. But I am also encouraged. We had a lot of good, hard working, dedicated people who we will need to see again. We will need to stick together and hold these people accountable for what they have done.

    When Jean Moulin was arrested by the Germans in 1940 for protesting a massacre of African troops, he slit his wrists and almost died. They let him go, and eventually became head of the French Resistance before he was betrayed and murdered. He gave his life for his country without hesitation.

    George Bush may have gotten the better of us, he may have managed to win, but he did not break our spirit or change what we know is right.

    In your despair, some of you may think of leaving, but you are who we need the most. We need people who care and think and feel. We need that in America, now more than before. Many of you thought Bush would steal the election. So what do you do now? Run, or stand up for the America you believe in? Because you will not find it in Canada or Holland or Australia. It is only to be found here, and where you make it here.

    But this is a democracy. If they messed with the ballots, we will fight them, and if they won fairly, we will oppose them.

    What would have happened if the people who fought Nixon left the US and went to Canada? Who would have stood up for us then?

    Americans have survived a lot. We will survive Bush as well. And we will fight and we will win. We have tremendous tools at our disposal and we will use them.

    Let us say something else. We will not do to John Kerry what we did to Al Gore. He ran a fine race, he is a fine man. We will stand by him and support him. We will not take out our disappointment on him as we did with Gore. He fought with us, and will fight with us again.

    I was wrong. Kerry fell short. It looked good, but in the end, they may have won. We cannot always be right. But that is politics. There will be more elections and more court cases and a Supreme Court to fight and Congress in two years.

    What do we do next? Where do we go from here?

    To end that damn war in Iraq. We HAVE to end it. It is our moral imperative. They will not draft our kin to fight there. They will bring our troops home. They will care for our veterans.

    We will build our movement and fight until we win. And that starts in the morning. And it would have no matter who won.

    What we can do is what we have done, watch these people, expose their misdeeds and hope that we can regain the respect needed for this country to thrive. Do I agree with the choice Americans made? No. I think it is self-indulgent and will end badly for us. But it was a democratic choice, and we must live by those rules.

    This wasn’t the night I imagined, but there is always tomorrow.

  2. mark
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Thank you, Arun. That does help a bit. I particularly liked the sentence, “Remember, Nixon won in a landslide and he was gone in two years.” (Although, wouldn

  3. Brett
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    my wife and i actually discussed the ‘blue cash for blue states’ plan early this morning- I considered including in each of my ebay auctions a “Will not Ship to” section (which many sellers have, but only relating to international customers), and including every one of the red states. Considering that in many cases I’m actually only pissed at about 50% of their populations, though, that doesn’t seem completely fair. I also entertained the notion of only shipping to non-U.S. addresses, and portray my ebay efforts as an attempt to rescue the antiquities of ‘Classic America’ before the blood baths and library burnings start.

    speaking of libraries, everyone better hurry over to the ypsi branches and look up websites about breast cancer, safe sex, and hemp while you still can.

  4. mark
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    And, get your abortions now, ladies.

    … As for the the “blue money in blue states” thing, I thought that maybe I was the only one who had that idea. It was going to be my big contribution to mankind. I guess a lot of us have been thinking about these things though… As most anything worth a damn comes from a blue state, it just makes sense. We should force them to accept modernity. “If you want our business, then you damned well better forget about teaching creationism in your schools.” If they didn’t go for the plan, then we could cut all ties and build a wall (or “fence” as the folks in Israel would say). Within a decade the blue states would become utopias and the red states would resemble Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban.

  5. Brett
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “As most anything worth a damn comes from a blue state, it just makes sense.”

    you know, this was the exact argument Northern abolitionists used in the 1840’s to justify why we should secede from the South.

    I’ve been waxing a little “Fight Club”, myself, thinking that the underpinning labor of society, including especially the teachers, artists, and scientists (who I suspect were overwhelmingly anti-Bush), could all simply refuse to serve their masters any longer.
    People should certainly be careful about wearing Bush pins into restaurants, as I think there will be much spitting in food over the next few days.

  6. mark
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Just heard from Linette (I’m working up the street at the coffee shop today) that a few people stopped by the house today to see if I was alright. (I feel like I did the afternoon of 9-11, but other than that I’m OK.) One of them was talking about the possibility of forming a local progressive think-tank / reading group… I’m still debating the urge to flee this place before they roll out the hijabs and the statues of Bush, but the idea of starting a little “reality cell” here in Ypsi does intrigue me. I should start reading about the French Resistance. Does anyone have a suggestion?

  7. Tamara
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 5:00 pm | Permalink


    Thanks for all your work and words. Chris and I have been thinking about you, Linette, and Clementine quite a lot. And we’ve been through all the questions you’re asking yourself.

    We’re not in Ypsi, but we’d like to be involved in the “think tank” on some level. We prefer to stay in the reality-based world.

  8. [steph]
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    Justin and I have been checking the site all day and all last night, just waiting for a word from someone who we agree with, someone we can trust. And someone who can verbalize what everyone is feeling, since I haven’t been able to manage much more than “this is so fucked up.”

    The gleeful way the networks announced the gay marriage bans made me sick to my stomach and I just can’t hear it anymore…

    Jeneanne Garofolo was saying on Air America Radio last night that the blue States need to merge with Canada… That would make me very very happy. Not that it would ever happen, but still.

    One of my best friends has volunteered 60+ hours per week for the past three years as an EMT at her college and in the surrounding area. Now she is terrified that when they reinstate the draft, she’ll have to go because she is a certified medical person.

    It’s nice to read what you have to say, and everyone who comments on this site, if only to know that the entire country isn’t comepletely full of disgusting, fanatical, hateful bigots.

    But these are scary times. I don’t know what to do about it, but I am very very afraid.


  9. Posted November 3, 2004 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    `My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

  10. mark
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    Steph, please know that all the stuff I said earlier today (in the comments section), about people in your demographic, doesn’t apply to you. Sometimes, in my anger, I forget that there are good young people out there who are thinking about these same issues. It just makes me sad that more young people didn’t see this election as being worth their time. (Even more confusing are those young, draft-age Americans who chose to stand in line to vote for Bush.) I want to shake them and say, “How much fucking worse does it need to get?”

    I think it must all boil down to the disconnectedness inherent to modern culture. We

  11. mark
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Very fitting, Dirtgrain. Depressing as hell, but very fitting.

  12. mark
    Posted November 3, 2004 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    If we do create a little “reality-based” book club, or think tank, we’ll be sure to make it virtual as well… Actually, I’m thinking of calling a meeting and really seeing if we can get something off the ground, some kind of progressive arts and education collective. While I don’t really have a lot of time, I’m thinking that keeping busy is probalby the only thing that will keep some of us sane. So, keep checking this site frequently. Sooner or later, I will ask what skills you have to contribute and how much time you have to give.

  13. Posted November 4, 2004 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    There’s an article in today’s Freep about how to deal with the depression we’re all feeling and one of the points was to keep busy, so I think the reality-base think-tank is a great idea.

    The idea that he now has a “mandate” scares the everliving daylights out of me. The man acted like he had a mandate in his first four years and look at the state we’re in.

    And it kills me all the people in this country who think that “some day” they’re going to be rich so they vote Republican now to ensure all those tax breaks are there for them when they make their first million.

    And the number of people who told me they were voting for Bush based on his record against terrorism. Um, hello? WTF??? That one I just didn’t get at all. I think we’re in more danger with that Christian fanatic in office than otherwise.

    Thanks for giving us this forum, Mark, to compare notes with like-minded people and realise we are not alone.

  14. Posted November 4, 2004 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    Anyone who kinda wants to move to Canada, but also wants to stay here and work for change in the States, can become a

  15. Posted November 4, 2004 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    Please remember that not all of us in the red states voted for Bush. If you have anything for me to do in the think tank, drop me a line.

    To Brett re: “including especially the teachers, artists, and scientists (who I suspect were overwhelmingly anti-Bush),” Yeah, that surprises me as well. In a department of 6 graphic designers, I am the only one who voted for Kerry. I’ve always thought that I was the lowest paid person here, now I’m almost certain of it. But even if I were paid enough to be helped by a continuation of the Bush regime I still wouldn’t have voted for him. He infuriates me.

  16. Rocky
    Posted November 4, 2004 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    First, I believe the election was fixed. Call me

  17. stella
    Posted November 4, 2004 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    “Well, you’re flag decal wont get you into heaven anymore
    we’re already overcrowded from your dirty little war.
    Now Jesus dont like killin, no matter what the reasons for
    and you’re flag decal won’t get you into heaven anymore”
    John Prine

  18. mark
    Posted November 4, 2004 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    From Shelley to Prine in just about a half dozen steps. Not bad.

  19. Dave Morris
    Posted November 4, 2004 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    From Mortimer J. Adler’s Syntopicon, Chapter 16- Democracy

    There is one other condition of equality which the status of citizenship demands. This is the equality of educational opportunity. According to John Stuart Mill, it is “almost a self evident axiom that the State should require and compel the education, up to a certain standard, of every human being who is born its citizen.” All men may not be endowed with the same native abilities or talents, but all born with enough intelligence to become citizens deserve the sort of education which fits them for the life of political freedom. Quantitatively, this means a system of education as universal as the franchise; and as much for every individual as he can take, both in youth and adult life. Qualitatively, this means liberal education rather than vocational training, though in contemporary controversy this point is still disputed.

    The way in which it recognizes and discharges its educational responsibility tests the sincerity of modern democracy. No other form of government has a comparable burden, for no other calls ALL men ( it was written in the 50’s) to citizenship. In such a government, Montesquieu declares, “the whole power of education is required.” Whereas despotism may be preserved by fear and a monarchy by a system of honor, a democracy depends on civic virtue. For where “government is entrusted to private citizens,” it requires “love of the laws and of the country,” and this, according to Montesquieu, is generally “conducive to purity of morals.”

    Universal schooling by itself is not sufficient for this purpose. Democracy also needs what Mill calls the “school of public spirit.” It is only by participating in the functions of government that men can become competent as citizens. By engaging in civic activities, a man ” is made to feel himself one of the public, and whatever is for their benefit to be for his benefit.” The “moral part of the instruction afforded by the participation of the private citizen, if even rarely, in public functions,” results, according to Mill, in a man’s being able “to weigh interests not his own; to be guided, in case of conflicting claims, by another rule than his private partialities; to apply, at every turn, principles and maxims which have for their reason of existence the common good.” If national affairs cannot afford an opportunity for every citizen to take an active part in government, then that must be achieved through local government, and it is for this reason that Mill advocates the revitalization of the latter.

    John Stuart Mill woulda been proud of you Mark.

  20. mark
    Posted November 4, 2004 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    Given the fact that Republicans are less likely to get the votes of the well-educated, is it really a surprise to anyone that the American public school system is being systematically dismantled by them?

  21. mark
    Posted November 5, 2004 at 4:59 am | Permalink

    part of a note just received from MoveOn:

    “In New Hampshire, where Kerry won by 9,171 votes, 9,820 people on our target lists got to the polls. In Wisconsin, where Kerry won by only 11,813, we turned out over 37,000. The 119,000 people we got out in Pennsylvania almost exceeded the margin of victory there, too. The effort that all of you put in clearly had a decisive impact in winning these states.”

  22. dennis barger
    Posted November 5, 2004 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    so mark, clearly several republicans out smarted into giving them a free ride to the polls on election day,

    or that some of the mindless drones who were too lazy to vote themselves that you drug away from their transient lifes forgot who to vote for once you got them inside the polls

    or it could just be a huge right wing conspiracy that Kerry and Edwards, 10,000 election lawyers, 1,200 michael moore cameras, how many members???, foreign election observers and the entire world news media have just so happened to have not uncovered yet….

    your choice

  23. mark
    Posted November 6, 2004 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Dennis, I like you, but I think that you might have taken one too many spins around your stripper pole

  24. Posted November 6, 2004 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Kerry actually won.

    Oddly supported by this.

    Also, Micheal Moore has these happy thoughts (via )

    And 51% is NOT a mandate. Using it as such will get W in trouble.

    The people I drove to the polls couldn’t stop talking about why they hated Bush. I had to calm them down. They had reasons I hadn’t even thought of remotely.

  25. Meta
    Posted August 20, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    Tom Ridge has now come out to say that he was pressured during the 2004 Presidential campaign to raise the terrorist threat level in order to help Bush win.

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