Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Continental Divide

I don't want to engage in melodramatic "end-of-the-world, I’m-moving-to-Canada" talk, but I'm troubled by the sharp cultural divide in this country. Maybe it was naive of me not to realize how wide the gap was, but if you look at the electoral map, the gap is as wide as that giant conglomeration of "red states" in the middle of the country.

I'm just surprised and, of course, disappointed. I thought we lived in a different country. But apparently, I'm out of touch with the so-called 'moral issues' (abortion, stem cell research, gay marriage, etc.) that are important to people. Just like the blue states on that map, my beliefs and principles are apparently on the outside edges.

It's disconcerting to me that 11 states, including my home state of Michigan, supported amendments to ban gay marriage. I probably shouldn't be surprised, but I didn't think the result would be so resounding. I hoped we were more progressive in this country. I should've known better. Now we're legislating discrimination.

Bush has won the popular vote. And Republicans won (or maintained) control of the House and Senate. What is this administration going to do, now that they don't have to worry about pleasing people for re-election purposes? I'm extremely skeptical that Bush will try to "unite the country" and “end partisan bickering,” rather than impose an agenda. I hope I'm wrong. But from the minority edges of the current continental divide, it's looking cold and lonely.

I hate to sound like a sore loser, but I can't believe that the majority of people are apparently happy with the state of the country, that they think Bush deserves to turn things (terrorism, national security, the war in Iraq, the economy, health care) in the right direction. Maybe they just didn't like or trust Kerry. It's baffling to me. I guess I'll have to spend the next four years attempting to understand this.

But those who want change in this country have to start acting right now. Democrats can't take another three years to figure out what our message and ideological stand is, as they did during most of the last three years. We have to keep the pressure on Bush and the Republicans from the outset and not let up until 2008. And we have to rally behind a candidate early in the process, whether it's John Edwards, Hillary Clinton, or the past two runners-up, Kerry and Gore. We can't waste time figuring out who we are, as we did with nine (??) candidates throughout most of last year.

All those youth voters who embraced apathy again this year and didn't go to the polls? I hope you're there in four years, after you realize the opportunity you squandered. Maybe you can convince the next wave of 18-24 year olds to help out, too.

And those who believe in a third party alternative to the current system? Do something over the next four years to organize – whether it's with the Green, Reform, Libertarian, or some other party that hasn't yet been created - and become a viable voice, instead of just waiting until Ralph Nader pops up again and support him when he did nothing himself until it was time to run for president again.

You know, I didn't want this to be a political blog, dammit...