Man, but I'm tired today. Didn't have to stay up too late last night, being in the Midwest and all. More emotional drainage. By ten o'clock we had the news. And we yelled and hollered so loud the cats went running!
A few minutes later, when it all started to sink in, we were watching Jesse Jackson's eloquently silent face at Grant Park and the tears streaming down his cheeks, biting on his hand to keep some of his reactions inside. We joined him - with tears of joy and relief and release, but tears also for all who struggled so long and so hard in this country, many of whom are not here to see this new American day. A new day in which the real message for Americans is not that a black man can be President of the United States but that any person regardless of skin color, religion or gender can be President of the United States. And that democracy, as freakish and imperfect a social and political system as any yet devised, can still respond to the will of the people when they decide to exercise that will.
It was an incredible moment. People in our little city were celebrating - we could hear them from blocks away! And the images of people dancing and cheering outside the White House - I'll never forget that. I hope it's burned on Bush's eyeballs, that he sees it in his meager dreams for the rest of his sad life.
For the rest of the world there was also cause for celebration. Like my pal Nuzz at Bleedin' Out, I know I've got quite a few overseas visitors here - to them I want to say thank you for your support and encouragement in this long, long election season. I hope that the end will justify the struggle, which is really just beginning as we try and clean up eight years of ruinous domestic and foreign policy, and that America will once again be a leader and a partner with other nations around the world. Thank you for hanging in with us.
Something I read this last weekend helped me hang in. I'm in the middle of a great novel right now by Christopher Priest called The Separation. I can't recommend it too highly. One passage hit me dead between the eyes. One of the primary narrators is writing about patriotism and the Second World War from several decades remove:
"I live in a time when it is fashionable in some quarters to be cynical about patriotism, bravery, political leadership, national purpose. I feel it myself sometimes, as in a properly sceptical democracy who should not? In 1941 things were different, for which I make no apology." (Pg. 71)I feel like the last eight years have been a tremendous war, not over yet even if a battle has been won. Not anything as pathetic as a "culture war" or as mundane as a military war, but a war to define America in the 21st century. (See my earlier, weirder post for more on this). I also feel that my own definitions of "patriotism, bravery, political leadership, national purpose" have been more finely honed and sharpened during this war, that my sometimes nonsensical pursuit of meaning has been directly tied to these ideas and ideals more than at any other time in my life. Frankly, the cynicism that walled me in for most of my life should have led me to roundly dismiss these absurd, antique daydreams, to throw them in the trash. But that was before I saw my country ravaged by foul, literally evil men like George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. Men for whom nothing mattered but their own ends, their own betterment, their own enrichment. They were wild dogs barely constrained by human form.
I therefore will make no more apologies in the round for the sometimes weird, sometimes angry, sometimes heartfelt things I write on this blog. If I screw something up or go beyond the pale and let my emotions get the better of me, I'll acknowledge it. But I'm done apologizing for caring and hoping. If anything, I'm more ready to continue the fight and win this war than at any time in the past. There's no going back, no giving up.
This is our time. Our time is now.