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Warning: Contents are an essay about personal-political pain. I apologize for myopia in advance. I promise, I will bury myself in work to try to get over it.

My Faith in the American Dream

My grandparents were immigrants.

They came from Italy with nothing. This country welcomed them at Ellis Island with the kind of open arms that would be unheard of today. Lady Liberty smiled down on them. America was still proud Lady Liberty was a gift from France--we liked being respected in the world.

Once here, my grandparents worked hard to achieve the American Dream.

Then the Great Depression came.

They were hungry, but proud. When my great uncle changed his last name from 'Marcanio' to 'Marc' so that he could find work, the family never spoke to him again.

They ate frogs, and squirrels, and dug up wild mushrooms to survive. My great grandmother had two miscarriages.

My grandfather's family suffered so much from cold that his brother tried to steal coal from a passing train. He was killed in the attempt.

The family never got over the shame of the stealing, or the death of the boy.

They did, however, survive the Great Depression because of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.

The government employed them and helped them survive. And once they were on their feet again, they never forgot it. So deeply imbedded was the obligation, that both my grandfathers enlisted in the military during World War II, even though one of them had not yet become a naturalized citizen and was an only son. He was asked to go back to Italy, and fight Italians. He did so, without hesitation, because he believed himself to be an American; he believed in the righteousness of a government that took care of its people and fought fascism abroad.

After the war, they lived their American Dream.

My father was born and my grandfather named him after the brother who had been killed stealing coal. My grandfather knew that he had built an America in which his son would never have to steal coal.

In fact, my father went to college. Both of my parents did; they became professionals, and answered John F. Kennedy's call to national service too. And I was raised into their American dream, believing that it was possible for anyone.

You see, the New Deal was literally that--a new social contract between the people and the government, no less revolutionary than the Magna Carta. In essence, the New Deal was a promise that the government would take care of the people in exchange for the people giving back money and service to the government. This was a sacred promise--and the Greatest Generation believed in it. They paid into the system to support the elderly and the poor with the expectation that future generations would support them.

They built the infrastructure that made this country great. They built roads, they built power-plants, they put up telephone wires, they cleared forests, they planted forests, and they built cities and schools. They built the most prosperous economy in the history of mankind. There's not a dime that you or I have earned our whole lives long that was not built upon their blood, sweat, and tears--and if we kept our promise, there would not be a dime our children earned that they did not owe, in part, to us.

That was the sacred compact of the New Deal.

One month ago today, my country rejected and broke this promise.

My Faith in Constitutional Protections

I was never the normal sort of child. My parents took me to many cities around the world, but the one I loved best was Washington DC. As a Catholic, I had felt spiritual exhilaration in Rome when I saw St. Peter's tomb, The Pieta, and the Pope. But I got that same feeling when I visited our nation's capitol.

I was only thirteen when cherry blossoms swirled around me and I looked up in the Temple of Jefferson to see the words, "I Have Sworn Upon the Altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

I was moved to tears.

I was never the same.

You see, my religion was authoritative. It was beautiful and encompassing, but it was passed down from God. Passed down from the Pope. But democracy was participatory.

The Founding Fathers had invited me, personally, to join them on a most sacred mission: to form a more perfect union.

God had given me a mind, and the blessings to be in this country, and a family, and all the tools I would need for this project, including the free will to build a just society. There was never any conflict in this for me. I was to render unto Caesar the things which were Caesar's, and unto God the things that were God's.

I believed in secularism. I believed that the Constitution would preserve it, and every other liberty that the Founding Fathers had enshrined. And it was not partisanship. I thought I might be Republican because I grew up loving Jefferson _and_ Adams, Hamilton, Lincoln, Justice Earl Warren, Justice Brennan, Justice Blackmun, and Justice Stevens. (It wouldn't be until later that I realized the Republican Party of today rejected most of the men from their party that I idolized.)

Politics interested me less than law, because I thought both parties believed in the same basic principles. I did not really believe that a majority of Americans thought we had too many rights. I didn't believe that the Bill of Rights could somehow become controversial. I didn't believe that an American President would ever show the Constitution such contempt and be rewarded for it.

One month ago today, I was proven wrong about all of these things.

My Faith in the American Character
A friend of mine once knocked a cluster of grapes out of my hand. I had been about to eat them, but she ranted to me about how I was hurting the migrant farm workers in California. I thought she was deranged. She took away my Coke too, because of aparteid in South Africa.

Her name was Coriander. She'd grown up on a commune. We would have screaming matches over whether or not the Founding Fathers were evil, oppressive men hell-bent on enshrining discrimination into the nation, or whether they were visionaries, striving to emancipate the world a little at a time.

Coriander believed that most Americans were greedy, selfish, uninformed prisoners of corporatism. By way of example she would point out all the times in our history where we had gone wrong.

I believed that Americans were the most charitable, service-oriented, literate, freedom-loving people in the world. By way of example I would point out all of the times in our history where we had turned away from our worst instincts and corrected our wrongs. A civil war was fought, at least in part, to correct one of them.

Where we had done evil things abroad, I felt that it was the doing of small-minded men in government, or desperate men in government, even well-meaning men in government, but that these acts did not have the consent of the populous.

Coriander had planted her seeds of doubt, but we ended on bad terms. I thought she hated America, and I resented it. My faith that Americans were not willing imperialists was too strong to admit her world view.

My faith that Americans believed in International Law was even stronger--heck, we all but invented it.

It was our Justice Jackson who changed the world's notion of the Just War. It was our idea to create the United Nations. It was our First Lady, Eleanor who lent her genius to creating a world in which war would be rarer. America was a signatory to the Geneva Convention and I believed that we honored it more than any other nation did.

In fact, I thought our poor soldiers were often put at greater risk because we followed the rules of war, and our enemies did not.

The thing about faith, when it is as fervent as mine, is that it trumps all facts to the contrary. My faith withstood everything that came before it.

Until the election.

One month ago today, these beliefs came up against the facts. Now I fear that a mass murderer named Osama bin Ladin understands the dark side of my countrymen far better than I ever did.

This election was different than any other in my lifetime. This was not an election about ideas for American policy. It was about the idea of America herself. I was sure, election day was going to be the best day of my life, that I would end up on my knees thanking God for confirming my faith in my nation.

Instead, I ended up on my knees in tears, with a mouthful of ashes. Now I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

My Faith in My Future
I never thought I would lead a life with less opportunity to prosper than my parents had. I never thought I would live in an economy where net jobs were lost four years in a row for the first time in seventy years and under an Orwellian government who called this tragedy a robust economy.

I never thought my tax dollars would protect companies who ship American manufacturing infrastructure and sensitive intelligence employment overseas to make a buck.

I never thought my own government would reward disloyalty and promote the humanity of the corporation while denigrating the humanity of our citizenry.

I never thought our media would become a propaganda machine--I remember the days when reporters asked real questions and Presidents quaked. I remember when Presidents held press conferences. I remember when the media held government accountable. I had faith in them.

Even when Al Gore's Presidency was stripped from him in one of the most poorly reasoned legal decisions of Supreme Court history, my faith persevered. I was angry, but I never doubted that this wrong would be righted.

I had faith that this President Bush, this accident of history, would go down in the history books as an aberration.

I had so much faith that I began to plan to bring a child into the world. In the days before the election, when I wasn't working hard on the campaign, I was working on our house. My husband and I were nesting. We were preparing for a family that I now fear we will never have.

As of one month ago, I have no faith that I could bring my child into a better world than the one I was born into. How would a child of mine bear up under the deficits being piled on his generation before he is even born? Will my child, one day, need to steal coal to stay warm?

But most importantly, I have no faith that I could now be a good parent. How could I look my child in the eye and convey to him or her, the faith that my parents gave to me? Children know when you're lying.

I don't want to teach my child that people are not naturally good and that we are citizens of the most dangerous nation on earth. I don't want to look at my child and tell him or her that we may not really live in a free and fair Democracy.

The Personal Toll
All of this is indulgent narcissism.

There are real people suffering in this world, and my personal anguish is nothing next to theirs.

After all, I'm a privileged white woman. I live in a blue state and I'm unlikely to get disappeared by the Department of Justice, or to starve to death, or to fall prey to all the ills that have come from Mr. Bush and his Administration. I'm not likely to need an abortion. We don't plan around social security.

And yet, it is deeply personal, because it is a crisis of faith.

It runs so deep that I feel personal betrayal that my father voted for George Bush. His one vote wouldn't have mattered, he would say. He voted in New York. But I feel like a little girl whose father won't listen to her when she tells him someone hurt her.

I get out of bed. I go out with friends. I work. I live my life. I love my husband. I find much to be grateful for about my life every single day.

Life goes on, there is more work to do, and I hope two months time will bring me more wisdom than one month did.

Perhaps too, the unusual and infinite tenderness I feel towards John Kerry since his concession speech may fade over time as well. I love him far more now than I did the day I voted for him. I can't explain it. But for now, he represents an image of profound personal loss, he represents the work I did, the dreams I had. He is the personification, by happenstance, of all that I valued. I am sure that is part of some post-traumatic stress syndrome too.

So, I am not yet over the election yet.

I fear I never will be.

There is a very dark hollow core in my heart where faith once was. I don't know who I am without it.

I feel like a priest who wakes up an atheist. When no one is listening, I ask myself how much of my life have I wasted? I fear the siren's call of a life in which government is simply that distasteful thing that sometimes appears on the evening news.

"Oh, I never vote," the girl who delivered my mail said to me. I looked at her aghast. Will I look at her, next time, with envy?

A month ago, I said it felt as if someone had died.

I think it might have been a part of me.

Originally posted to stephdray on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 04:38 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Wow... (4.00)
    Very powerful.  Thank you for saying so well much of what I feel.

    I'm not over it either.

    Decisions are made by those who show up.

    by poe on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 04:46:14 PM PST

    •  Very Good (4.00)
      Tip Jar please
    •  Getting over it (4.00)
      I've heard people say many times "get over it."  I can't, I won't.  I feel a lot of the author's pain.  I think both the author and Coriander are right about America.  Like people, America is not black and white, but shades of gray.  Right now we're dark gray.  I hope (wish) that the wrongness of what is going on right now will eventually be realized by the American people.  It takes a while.  We just have to keep working, working harder, to effect change.

      I'm a member of a minority group: the reality-based community.

      by Unstable Isotope on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 05:02:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  After the recent election (4.00)
        I really felt as if my country had died.  I literally felt grief.  Getting over it would be like getting over the death of a parent, or partner.  I don't think you "get over" that kind of thing.  You just learn to deal with it and re-build your life.  There have been darker times in American, and we can only hope that it get's better.
        •  Grateful to All of You. (4.00)
          Yes, you don't get over it. That trite expression "Time heals all wounds...." is just that. Time does not heal wounds, it just helps you deal with them in a way that doesn't bring you to your knees anymore. Time takes those ashes out of your mouth.  

          I'm late to this thread, I'm supposed to be helping the SO go through the four hundred boxes of Christmas Decorations....but instead I just lost over an hour and a half slowly reading every single comment on here.

          Which is why I put this near the top. You all gave me an early Christmas present.
          This diary. And Lawnorder's.
          Now you don't have to buy me anything.

          I don't know how to express my own thoughts very well anymore, but I want to thank Stephanie with all my heart for writing this diary, which though cathartic for the writer, must have also been written through many tears. The same tears I had to wipe away as I traveled through the story of her journey from hope to despair, if only a temporary journey (because that's what it will be).

          One of the most moving, eloquent, beautiful I've ever read since on DK.  I simply repeat what hundreds of already commented on before me, that these thoughts were taken from my very soul and put into words. I voiced some of them outloud to whoever has to put up with me, but it was done in a rant. Or in a sputtering rage. Or, as on the night of November 3rd, on the floor of my family room, holding one of my cats too tightly, the top of his head wet, as I tried to explain to the S.O. why I was so depressed, upset, disgusted, and so scared.  I cried so hard and for so long on that floor.  I wound up having the worst case of hiccups I've ever had as an adult. Watching the look of confusion on his face, that I could be this distraught, and watching him struggle to find words to comfort me, is a flashback I want to forget. Remembering how I stormed out of the room yelling that he never really understood me and didn't seem to care, is something I wish only happened in a dream. He worked so hard to help John Kerry. One of my ugly chapters. I printed this out for him to read. If I even have the courage to give this to him.    

          Stephanie, I finally saw your web site. Your talent, your gift, your accomplishments are extraordinary. I am humbled. So bring that child that is waiting into this world.  That piece of you that you think died will be reborn. And the piece of you that's wondering if you should get up and believe again again will be stronger than ever. And of course you won't make him or her jaded or cynical...a child only gets the best a parent has to offer. He or she will get live and feel and learn all your hopes and dreams and goodness.

          And I wish all the posters that commented on here could see this, but it's late, and I don't anyone will but I wish I could thank almost every single one of you as much as I want to thank Stephanie.

          I've read too many diaries and threads on DK in the past few weeks that criticized, chastised, and heaped scorn on John Kerry. And it broke my crybaby heart all over again. I too am in a news blackout, so this was the only place I could come to have a small connection to what's happening out there. And it was a place I thought I could too would be able to try to heal.  Too many times, it made the heartache even worse. I know this was very much a Pro-Dean site. I was one the Deaniacs back in December.

          But the vitriol against John on some (note: some) of the Dean threads was gut wrenching. I must have been into self pity, as I was drawn to them as recently as this past week. I guess I thought you could respect, support and admire both. That was not easy to find.

          But so many here have written what's I've felt about this man since April.  I too came to love John Kerry.  And it struck me as very very strange. I mean, I said it outloud, trying to be humorous, but I meant it. Repeated it to my girlfriends for months. "I looooove John Kerry."  Luckily for me, most of them, agreed. We became JK groupies. We went to one of his rallies and it was like Bruce Springsteen was up there on that stage (And Bruce was not there that day).  Just very odd. As much as I admired Al Gore and Bill Clinton, there were no pictures of them up at work.  

          I know I was desperate for a "hero" after four years of Bush. But it was more than that. Once I got to "know" John Kerry, I fell for him, and fell for him hard. I had pictures of him up on my cubicle, taken from the New York Times, from Daily Kos, from the A/P. My favorite being the one where he's talking to children on a wharf, bent down on their level, on a wharf with the NYC skyline in the background. It encompassed everything I came to feel for him.   President Kerry and Vice President Edwards.  Said it at least a million times, maybe thinking the more I say it the more it will be.  This country so needed this man to bring it back from the edge of darkness. Instead, we have to play this game again - it will get even colder and darker before we feel the warmth and find the light again. That's what still makes me cry to this day.

          So again, thank you for this diary thread. Where I again found the respect and gratefulness I have, and always will have, for this dignified, honorable, intelligent and compassionate man.

          And thank you to those who understand that some of us need to grieve before we're  ready to fight again.  There's this prevalent feeling in America, and probably much of society, that "You better get over it and move on".  Everyone is afraid you'll wallow in this depression or  become useless if you don't come out of it in a week. I can almost guarantee that not many Kossakes who are still really hurting are going to be lost to the party.  

          I think the knowledge that those of us, who are like Stephanie, realize we're not alone...well, I think that's the inspiration that's going to help us get up.

          If we can feel this damn sad and this damn heartbroken and this damn upset....we have the capability to feel that damn hopeful, that damn angry, and that damn ready to kick some ass when the next big election rolls around.

          That piece of garbage Bush made me a miserable, crying, human being.
          Not all the time.  But more than enough.
          Because that same piece of worthless garbage Bush is going to have me fighting his bullshit ever harder and with more passion than I ever thought I had.
          I don't know what me fighting against that tyrant is going to change anything in the grand scheme of things. But whatever. I'm doing it.
          G W. Bush:   I'm slowly coming back to hatin' you again.
          Which was a good thing as bad as that sounds.
          I just need to get through a few more boxes of Kleenex first.
          And I have like a five month supply.


          •  Humbled in Return (4.00)
            I'm not going to write a whole lot, even though so much of what you said deserves a response, because so many of the posts in this thread have really been illuminating to me.

            I know it's time for me to listen.  

            I've had my say.

            I want to thank you for your kind words and to express my solidarity with you.  

            I remember that on that day, as I sobbed, my husband was stone cold quiet.  He held my hand.  I wondered how he could not be sobbing, but then I remembered that he deals with grief in his own way.  And thank goodness he does, because I needed his comfort that day, even as I rejected it.  He wanted to hold me, but I withdrew.  

            I t wasn't for days and days that I was able to be there for him.  I'm not proud of that.  So please, go ahead and print it out for your loved one, if you think it will help smooth over the hurts of that ugly moment.  We all need each other.

            •  Returning to the root (none)
              Be completely empty.
              Be perfectly serene.
              The ten thousand things arise together;
              in their arising is their return.
              Now they flower,
              and flowering
              sink homeward,
              returning to the root.

              The return to the root
              is peace.
              Peace: to accept what must be,
              to know what endures.
              In that knowedlge is wisdom.
              Without it, ruin, disorder.

              To know what endures
              is to be openhearted,
              following the Tao,
              the way that endures forever.
              The body comes to its ending,
              but there is nothing to fear.
              -Tao Tao Ching #16, Ursula K. LeGuin's rendition

              I usually think of this chapter in relation to times when we are facing the death of a loved one, or ourselves.

              Somehow... it seemed appropriate.

              "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are." - Theodore Roosevelt

              by Andrew C White on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 07:36:59 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

            •  Christmas in 2004 (none)
              No, I don't deserve a response. Pouring out your soul like that was enough of a response.

              But what I will add is this, and I have no idea if you even need this...but maybe I did. I did something this week that was totally vain. For me. Something women can relate to. I changed my look, and I have to blame G. W. Bush. I let my hairdresser have her way with me for the first time in years. No more "just take off the tiniest bit, you know, just a a tiny trim.". I went shorter. I went into layers. I went into something totally modern and more in style that I've ever had. And I changed the color. To something warmer, brighter, and happier. Two radical changes. For me anyway.

              My S.O.'s jaw dropped when I walked in the door. For real. It dropped. And he told me a few times he loved it. God, I love him so much it hurts.  And it lifted my spirits for the first time in weeks. Just as important, if not almost more, my female friends loved it too and wouldn't stop talking about it. As a woman, you know it's what they, the female pack, thinks that really matters.

              I've been so wrapped up into the election for the past year I have lived and breathed little else. So I let myself go selfish for a few days and took care of me.

              This coming Friday a group of friends and I from work are playing hookey to spend the entire day in New York City. Christmas in the city is something everyone should do. The tree is as beautiful as it looks on TV, as is Rockefeller Center. And it's a healing place to be when you're mourning John Kerry's loss, which we all are.  And I haven't even spent much time with my friends since November 2nd. I spent a lot of time not talking and not wanting to socialize, so this will be like opening the windows on the first warm Spring day.

              Then I started with phase three. The most important. I've thought about this other years, but never really followed through. This time I'm doing it. Especially this year. No one, and I mean no one, is getting a gift from me that came from a retail store. No running to the malls. No gift wrapping. No exchanging. No stress. Actually, I guess I am buying some things...that would besome of those "The Proud 48%" sweatshirts and bumper stickers for my Pro Kerry Hangover closest Friends.  

              Each and every Christmas present will be a charitable contribution in their name. For my Bush Worshipping Iraq War Supporting Brother who said he doesn't care how many civilians have died...that will the most meaningful one to give. An Iraqui child that lost it's parents to this horrific god forsaken war will receive a ongoing gift in his name. Even if a piece of me is doing it out of confusion that my own brother could think like this, most of it is honestly because my heart aches for the innocents over there. So it's a win/win. And that's what matters most of all.  

              There are charities that I support that mean the world to me, animal, environmental and human based, and that took the brunt of me not giving as much this year because I donated so much to John Kerry and the DNC. I'll make up for that this Christmas season.

              It doesn't take away all the hurt and heartbreak of November 2nd. Nothing can do that.

              But it makes it just a little easier to carry. It's a small baby step to wipe away at least a few of the tears that still keep falling.

              "Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence."  Lin Yutang

              All of us here...and hopefully the 55 million Americans who tried...we're all going to walk on that road again.


  •  I feel your pain (4.00)
    It's like mine.
    •  P.S. I had to walk away (4.00)
      I got off the computer and walked way from the pain of recognition, from how much you spoke for me. I've been thinking about it for a couple of hours now, trying to sort out what I should offer in response:

      You must have a child if you are ready for one. You must carry your legacy and tradition forward into the next generation. Ultimately, and most primitively, this is all we ever have to leave. Everything fades into dust but, our bloodlines live on.  I raised two very evolved, progressive children and they will nurture their own kind.

      In some dark future, they may be the only ones who remember the ideals of freedom and liberty and whisper the hope to others. Politics isn't just local, it's personal. The greatest renewal of faith is having a child. Prepare for the worst but live for the best!

      Forgive me for lecturing, but I'm old and sick and deathly depressed. The only lights in my life are my children and grandchildren. I recommend having them.

      •  My child is the fire in my belly. (4.00)
        I was 6 months pregnant when 9/11 happened and I wondered what I had done, bringing a child into this chaos. When I heard the sound of her first cries, I knew that I had brought heaven to wash away this hell.

        Everytime I feel the sweet, numbing creep of apathy try to drown out my current pain, I look at my little girl and know that I have to show her how to fight for moral justice, love and courage. I never want her to feel so helpless and afraid that she yearns to cling to whatever is safe and easy. I want to give to her all she has given to me in spirit, and then more. She's brought back the fight I had lost in my idealistic youth only this time, I fight for her and those that follow.

        If I can transform into a revolutionary, you can.

        What an amazing diary from one of my favorite commentators here! Damn you for making me so reflective!

        •  9/11 babies (4.00)
          My youngest was 3 months old and I was so grateful to have her that day. She's always been a "lap potato" and I just held her and held her and kissed her and kissed her. My girls are my reason for activism.

          The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town--so whatcha doin' sitting around?

          by LynnS on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:31:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Mine too! (4.00)
            I want the American dream and FDR for my kids!

            Not Bush's wasteland...

            Bush started a war with a lot less proof. Recount!!!

            by lawnorder on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:41:19 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  My daughter Lucy was... (none)
            ...exactly two weeks old when the planes hit the Towers.  I will never forget watching the coverage that day and wondering how the same universe could contain something so pure and beautiful as my brand new baby and something as awful as the spectacle we all witnessed that day.

            I gotta say, having children is hardly for everyone, but you clearly have a great head on your shoulders and a big old heart between them, and I can't imagine life without Lucy now.  She IS my life.  She's brought so much perspective to me.  Don't keep a child out of the world because you fear they'll suffer.  Life brings some suffering, but it's LIFE, man!  Procreate!

          •  my 3 sons (none)
            are the reason I will fight this administration tooth and nail, and continue to hope for and work toward a corrected America.  We can't give up.  We just can't.
      •  For you, John Adams (4.00)
        We will just have to prevent those darker futures. Yesterday I spoke, today I'm listening. I'm hearing everything you say.

        John Adams: I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

  •  Beautiful (none)
    and terrible.  

    "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!" -- Benjamin Franklin

    by Joey Dee on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 04:49:44 PM PST

  •  Beautiful diary (4.00)
    And perfectly expressive of my own loss of faith, both in the system and the Democratic party.

    A true crisis of faith for many of us. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully.

    I fear I will never be the same again after this election, but I tell myself ... eventually ... we'll be stronger in the broken places.

    I'll let you know if it ever starts to work, this mantra.

  •  Great diary! (4.00)
    And reminding me of REM was great too!

    Bush started a war with a lot less proof. Recount!!!

    by lawnorder on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 04:52:21 PM PST

    •  Oh Life, it's bigger.. (4.00)
      It's funny how this old song fits -- law

      That's me in the corner.
      Thats me in the spot, light.. loosing my religion. Trying to keep, a view, and i dont know if I can do it Oh! no, I've said to much..

      I havent said enough. I thought that I heard you laughing, I thought that I heard you sing. I.. think I thought I saw you try.

      But that was just a dream.. Try, cry, why Try? That was just a dream, just a dream, just a dream...

      REM - Loosing My Religion

      Bush started a war with a lot less proof. Recount!!!

      by lawnorder on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:59:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Stephdray (4.00)
    Beautifully written. I'm working on longer response because this is worthy.

    Well, Watson, we seem to have fallen upon evil days. -- Sherlock Holmes.

    by Carnacki on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 04:55:25 PM PST

  •  Powerful (4.00)
    I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes.  I feel your pain because it's mine too.  Our histories are similar and I know from where you speak.  

    Thank you for sharing these beautiful words.

    "...Bush could kiss Osama bin Laden on national television and Karl Rove could spin it into a punch in the face." - Jim Hoover of Huntington Beach

    by fabooj on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:00:03 PM PST

  •  Personal narrative is the strongest kind (4.00)
    It's diaries like this that keep me from getting into the diary-writing business.  How can I top something like this?


    PS: Diary-pimping on the OT works.  That's how I ended up here.

    Bull Moose Progressive
    Supporter of self-defense rights for responsible citizens

    by AlphaGeek on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:04:08 PM PST

  •  Beauty in darkness (4.00)
    There's not much I can say to something so beautiful, other than thank you. - Erik

    "I feel your scorn and I accept it." - Jon Stewart

    by starkness on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:06:59 PM PST

  •  Liberalism without cynicism. (4.00)
    Thanks, Steph.  This is an amazing diary.  More than the damage to social security, the national debt, equality of opportunity, Congressional legislative perogative, redistributive mechanisms, America's place in the world that Bush's second term is likely to bring, it's the fact that I can no longer say that Bush is an aberation, a fluky mistake, that hurts the most, that raises the biggest questions about us as a people.

    By the idea of community...we are all enriched and ennobled. -- Michael Dukakis

    by tlaura on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:14:45 PM PST

    •  Yes. Thank you. (none)
      <i>I can no longer say that Bush is an aberation, a fluky mistake, that hurts the most.
      •  By the way, Steph, (4.00)
        I think you should stay optimistic about things, about the good in Americans.  As I see it, lots of Bush voters this year are good people living in a confusing time.  There seems to be evidence in the new post-mortems that a lot of white married women with children switched from Democrat to Republican this year -- those are women who obviously could and four short years ago did vote for a pro-choice, pro-civil rights, pro-tolerance, pro-progressive-taxation conservative Democrat but thought Bush would "protect" them this year.  They're people we can get back, but not (IMO and this is just MO) by accepting the fatalism of your friend, Coriander.

        Keep the faith in your politics and the American people.  Someday liberalism without cynicism will prevail.  I really do believe it even faced with the depressing reality of an "elected" Bush.

        By the idea of community...we are all enriched and ennobled. -- Michael Dukakis

        by tlaura on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 08:04:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes. (none)
          The good WILL die in America, if we cease to believe it exists, and don't patiently coax and nurture it out of the soil that has been polluted by this recent tide of evil.

          Stephanie, thanks for writing this. I too wonder if I still can understand my own country at this point. Is it my country anymore, the country I always thought I knew well? I grieved heavily for about a week myself, talking to few people and praying heavily for guidance, strength, and direction in this confusing devastating abyss we've fallen into. But then I started talking to people again, had a long heart-to-heart with my sister (who was "bluer" than I was even--she's always been a compassionate liberal Dem--in the middle of rural red Virginia), and realized that this country and its people, even the "red" ones, are still worth fighting for.

          I had been somewhat apathetic politically in the past, voting Libertarian, yes (I have always had some very strong views), but knowing that my third-party vote would never make a difference really, and basically not caring whether Dems or Reps prevailed. It was a "principled apathy" I suppose.

          This election cycle was of course very different, and I worked on the ground for Kerry in Minneapolis, the first time I ever did anything like that. I was pumped, I was very confident that reason and sense would prevail in the American electorate--I knew this country, and that there was a limit to the B.S., and the evil, they would tolerate. Watching the returns made me numb with shock. I didn't feel ANYTHING that night, I was afraid to. When Kerry conceded the next day, it was like a blow to the gut. I broke down and wept.

          But now, in the aftermath, it's like a new clarity has come upon me. I think God answered my prayers. I realized the fight wasn't over, that it had just begun, and that I must work for the ideals I believed in. I must stay involved and engaged. I must back my beliefs not just with words but with deeds--get to know people in my community, become a good neighbor, help people who I see troubled or distressed. There IS still good in this country, and if it is to prevail it is up to each of us to remind others it exists, and how good it feels to see it and experience it. My faith in God, which had wavered for a long time and was abandoned for awhile, has been strengthened considerably, in this darkest hour. I believe he is testing us all in these times, and that if we rise to the test we will become stronger than we ever were, and eventually prevail--and have a deeper understanding of what is good and just when we do, that we will remember our struggle and defend its fruits with everything we have, and pass that understanding to our children and theirs.

          Neitzsche, who IMHO had some very dubious ideas, nonetheless did say this: "that which does not kill me, makes me stronger." I've always believed that, and I especially do now.

          I've joined the Democratic Party, and will be active in it on the local level. I believe that the GOP needs all the opposition it can get now. Remember, 48% of the people understood there was, and is, a serious problem in this country, and that we were (are) in danger of losing all of what is good and right and righteous about this country. I encourage them all to not give up, that the good of this country depends a lot on all of us holding firm, and continuing to reach out (not pander, but seek to unlock the good buried in even the most cynical or hateful of Bush voters), and to be an example of good for the rest of this beleaguered nation to see, to be candles to defeat the darkness.

          The road has turned out to be longer than perhaps we thought it would be before the election. We've stumbled, and some of us still need some more time to recover. It is the Christmas season, time to share love and warmth with loved ones we don't get to see every day. We should all take time to recharge our batteries with that positive energy. But when we get up after our rest, let us remember that the ideals of the America we grew up to know and love, still exist within us, and it is up to us to replant those seeds on the befouled soil, to coax them into fruition in the people all around us.

          Treating people just like pawns in chess, wait til their judgment day comes

          by Alioth on Sun Dec 05, 2004 at 03:21:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Dearheart (4.00)
    that's alll I can say. I rarely have tears in my eyes reading Kos diaries, but I do now.
  •  "The Best of dKos" (4.00)
    If they ever do a "Best of dKos" collection of essays, this one is a must include.

    Those who fail to learn from history...are invited to submit an application for a position in the Bush administration.

    by Timoteo on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:21:27 PM PST

  •  Quite a joy (none)
    (odd word, perhaps, but accurate nonetheless)to read. Funny how pain can push us to think, sometimes more clearly than we like, or expect.

    Thanks for letting us read it.  

    In a democratic society some are guilty, but all are responsible. -Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

    by a gilas girl on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:21:46 PM PST

  •  Weeping (4.00)
    Thank you, Steph.  This is so powerful and really defines the locus of my own dread over the past few weeks.

    My parents are African-American, who spent a good deal of the early part of my life in marches, meetings, demonstrations.  They were jailed, threatened, subject to all kinds of surveillance because they were active in the Civil Rights movement.  They won their battle (with many causalties on our side), and were proud that they were leaving me a country that truly was trying to deliver on its astonishing promise to all.  My grandmother was particularly pround that she did not have to teach her grandkids how to live with the oppression of Jim Crow.

    And now, it feels as if the promise is over.  That magic conferred upon you as being a child of the Founders of the United States of America is gone.  My European friends and colleagues are clear that the age of American exceptionalism is gone.

    And I feel very much in danger -- a thing that I am not accustomed to and not sure what to do about it...

    Thanks again for such a powerful diary.

    Opinions can be argued with. A conviction is best shot. -- T.E. Lawrence

    by cassandra m on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:25:42 PM PST

    •  You made me weep more n/t (4.00)
    •  This experience made me admire (none)
      even more what your folks and others went through. How did they keep going when evil kept winning over the good. I think about them whenever I feel like giving up and when I feel like America is just a fucked up hopeless hypocritical lying piece of shit.
    •  Powerful (4.00)
      Although I am black, there is so much of your experiences and your feelings that I share. I guess that is what makes us AMERICANS. My grandfather and father served in the segregated Army. Both my parents were denied admission to graduate colleges because they were black (despite being o/w qualified) A generation later both my brother and I have doctorates in our respective fields. I too am a believing Christian and this election with this ham handed pseudo-Christianist coronation of Bush has thrown me for a loop too. What has always made America great was that we could come together regardless of our different religions, cultures or origin. The men in power seek only to magnify those differences for their own gain. Indeed they have little reverence for that America --our America! That is why it is so important that we take our country back. Take care my sister.
    •  Time for me to Listen (4.00)
      I know there's even more in there to say, but the responses to this thread, like yours, have taught me that now it is time to listen.

      So I thought I would thank you by letting you listen to some wisdom I sought today:

      "A child born to a Black mother in a state like Mississippi . . . has exactly the same rights as a white baby born to the wealthiest person in the United States. It's not true, but I challenge anyone to say it is not a goal worth working for." ~ Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) American civil rights activist, first black American Supreme Court Justice from c. 1980.

      •  Wisdom is Our Strength (none)
        Thanks to cho, never forget, bliss and of course, Stephanie for your words of encouragement.

        The words of Thurgood Marshall point out the key strength of America -- a thing he stood for, that my parents generation stood for and we have to stand for again.  It is very hard to think about fighting again for territory that we thought was safely won.  But, if Kossacks are any indication, the values of social and economic justice are still powerful ones for us.  We have to reconvince people that a life of fear is simply no way for an American to live.

        Opinions can be argued with. A conviction is best shot. -- T.E. Lawrence

        by cassandra m on Sun Dec 05, 2004 at 12:32:04 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this (4.00)
    If you've not done so, go read Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene. Given what you've written, I think you might find it a good read. It's about doubt and crises of faith, and why they're not always such bad things. Also it's funny, which any good book should be if it possibly can.

    Congratulations, also, on waking up from patriotism. It's hard and painful, and lots of people never do. And don't let anyone ever tell you that the political is not personal.

    Thanks again for a great diary

    I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth and I am a citizen of the world -- Eugene Debs

    by dove on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:26:05 PM PST

    •  This isn't waking up FROM patriotism... (3.85)'s waking up TO patriotism.  Americans are an idealistic people, and they should feel discomfort when their country strays from iis own principles.

      Grieve, if you must.  Then do whatever it takes to set our country right again.

      •  For myself, I'll stick with "from" (none)
        Ever since I read Robert Jensen's essay Saying Goodbye to Patriotism I've been trying to steadily reject patriotism for any country, including the one where I grew up. Failing sometimes, I'm sure, but trying.

        I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth and I am a citizen of the world -- Eugene Debs

        by dove on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:03:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  But that's not patriotism at all... (4.00)
's nationalism.  Don'r confuse the two.


          Unlike American nationalism, American patriotism is unique. The United States of America is "the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed ... set forth with almost dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence," wrote a British observer, G.K. Chesterton, in 1922. Expanding the compass of natural law in the famous phrase "all men are created equal," the founders extended the people's inalienable rights from safety alone to liberty and equality. As summed up in the nation's motto, E pluribus unum ("out of many, one"), this creed is universal, not parochial. It does not read, "All Americans are created equal." To the extent that the United States betrays it own ideals, American patriotism holds the nation under judgment.

          When established as national writ, "All men are created equal" excluded both women and slaves. The first feminist manifesto (written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848) invoked the Declaration of Independence. In condemning the curse of slavery, Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln did the same. Expressing his dream, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. looked "forward to the day that this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed." From the outset of our history, American patriots have challenged the nation to tune its actions to the key of its ideals. In his 1944 study of American racism, the Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal described U.S. history as "the gradual realization of the American Creed."

          We flirt with forgetting two central aspects of our history. The United States is built on a foundation of belief, not on a foundation of skepticism. And it is by our actions, not our words, that this foundation of belief will be justified or betrayed. "An almost chosen people" (in Lincoln's words), we demonstrate our greatness not by force of might or by virtue of our economic dominance, but through rigorous moral endeavor, ever striving to remake ourselves in the image of our ideals. When we have approached true greatness, we have been great not because we were strong but because we were good. Fidelity to our national creed remains challenging, but it invests our nation with spiritual purpose and -- if we honor its precepts -- a moral destiny

          American arrogance can only fan the flames American policy is designed to extinguish. One sets a backfire to control a burning forest only when the winds are favorable. Otherwise the backfire spreads the very flames that it was intended to quench.

          Iraq aside, not only does the impulse of American nationalism isolate the United States and turn others against us, it rescinds our nation's greatest gift. As the world's leaders struggle to act together -- whether to slow global warming, ban land mines, combat racism, or create an International Criminal Court -- the president of the United States is conspicuously absent. We have isolated ourselves from the very councils we are charged, by both power and principle, to lead. At a time when E pluribus unum -- however idealistic, however difficult to accomplish -- is becoming the world's motto, the United States, whose founders gave this vision as a gift to the world, increasingly stands alone.

          What a lost opportunity this represents. Recognizing their own tears in American eyes, people throughout the world expressed unprecedented sympathy for our nation in the wake of 9/11. President Jacques Chirac of France proclaimed, "We are all Americans now." Today even America is divided against itself. To have squandered both the world's affection and the united spirit of our citizenry in little more than a year represents a tragic triumph of American nationalism over American patriotism. We need a few more patriots.


          •  I think we'll have to agree to disagree (4.00)
            on this one. I think we need more internationalists, not more patriots.
            My guess is that your viewpoint is shared by the majority here, but I'm just the obstinant, disagreeing kind on this issue. From my vantage point, patriotism and nationalism don't look or feel distinct or mutually opposed at all -- they look like two sides of the same coin. To mix my metaphors, I think that nationalism is essentially a straw man -- all of the unpleasant things about patriotism are labelled 'nationalism' instead, so that the idea that patriotism is a virtue isn't challenged.
            That's my 2p anyway.  

            I have no country to fight for; my country is the earth and I am a citizen of the world -- Eugene Debs

            by dove on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:41:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Adlai Stevenson (none)
      "What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility ... a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." ~Adlai Stevenson

      Yesterday I spoke. Today I'm listening. :)

  •  thank you (4.00)
    you feel my pain.  i'm still angry and i don't see it changing.  i still won't watch the news and i can't bear to see the chimp at all.  i live in a red state and listen to their talk, and they don't get it, nor will they ever.  
    •  Another thing I can't forgive Bush for (none)
      He made me stop reading the New York Times.  I can't bear the US news - when I used to be such a news junkie.  

      It's just too painful when the mainstream press in the United States is all of a sudden the alternative press.

      "The state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation." - Pierre Trudeau

      by fishhead on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:04:19 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Loss and Lost (4.00)
        I don't think that I ever realized just how much of my daily routine revolved around news, whether from television, newspapers, or even on-line, until I unconsciously began pushing it away after the election.  I still get up in the morning, and turn on CNN, but I change the channel within minutes, whereas it used to remain on until I left for work.  I used to get up on Sundays, specifically, to watch the news programs, and to read my NY Times.  Now the TV remains off, and my newspaper goes to the recycling bin unread.  Even on-line, the headlines on my Yahoo login page go unclicked.  Out of habit, I check the MSM sites, but I read no stories.

        I stop only here, a habit so recently acquired -- just before the election -- that I have been confused by my attachment to it.  Then, I read diaries like this one, and I know why I am here.  For now, it's about acknowledging my own grief, having it revealed to me in the words of my fellow mourners.  In time, I expect that will change, that our voices will turn from our loss and focus on our renewal.  But not yet, at least for me, because in this loss, I have been lost.  

        "How exquisitely human was the wish for permanent happiness, and how thin human imagination became trying to achieve it." -- Toni Morrison, Paradise

        by orbitguy on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 10:25:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No news is good news (4.00)
          You're not the only ones who can't read the news anymore.  I was all over the WAPO, NYT, LAT for months leading up to the election and now I look at them and just turn away--BUT MAINLY BECAUSE THERE IS NO SUBSTANCE THERE.  

          I realize more clearly than ever the complicity of our national media in the Bush triumph (if he did in fact win?)  It is their toothless, spineless, myopic grasps at capturing what is really happening which is making me sick.  Where is America's tradition of a free-press?  Of enterprising and hard-working journalists?  Did I just imagine this existed?

          Luckily, there is dKos, and actually, I go here first now because I know that if anything were really breaking in the SCLM, it would have already appeared and been raked through on this site.  Besides, I honestly believe that the intelligence, insight and diverse opinion exhibited here more closely reflects the real world than does the puffy status seeking story primping that now passes as journalism.

  •  Hang in there, Steph (4.00)
    This country, to say nothing of this world, has been through dark times before.  The overall direction of history, despite serious setbacks, has been positive and towards greater democracy, justice, fairness and freedom.  No matter how much the misled and confused among us try, they can't stop it.  They can only delay it.

    The war's not over yet.

    Visit the Diary of the Lying Socialist Weasels, for commentary from the Original Progressive Web Warriors!

    by Jonathan on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:32:23 PM PST

    •  that is exactly what I wanted to say. (4.00)

      I remember, back during the late 80's, when Gorbachev was in power - and I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  Somehow, it was like the entire Soviet Union was just "waking up."  Gorbachev himself was doing nothing more than liberalizing a little here, a little there... and the whole country followed suit, and it turned into a landslide.

      Even if it doesn't, look at other nations. China: liberalizing very slowly, but as Gorbachev proved, that can turn into a landslide.  India: a poverty-stricken, third-world corrupt democracy - but they could turn into a first-world nation during our lifetime.  Imagine that: a democracy like the US, only six times larger.

      Have patience, and work, and don't be shocked when something amazing happens.

      •  If it acts anything like us... (4.00)
        India will scare the heck out of me. But in reflection of your comments, to show I am listening, I thought we can both listen to someone I admire.

        Thomas Jefferson:

        If the game runs sometimes against us at home we must have patience till luck turns, and then we shall have an opportunity of winning back the principles we have lost, for this is a game where principles are at stake.

    •  Martin Luther King (none)
      Yesterday I spoke. Today I listen. Thank you so much.

      "The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice." ~Martin Luther King

  •  Extraordinarily Beautiful (4.00)
    Well, you got me.  

    You've articulated so much of what I feel that I feel I know you.  Your immigrant grandparents could be mine. The beliefs you held were mine.

    The despair you feel, I feel.

    Things are dark, very dark... but there's still lights in the world. And you are one of them.

    The "Greatest Generation" voted for Democrats.

    by Malacandra on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:33:51 PM PST

    •  Thank you, Malacandra (4.00)
      Things are dark, very dark... but there's still lights in the world. And you are one of them.

      And thank you, dear Stephanie. You remind me of a courageous man we both love, because you've suffered immensely and yet found the inner strength to reach out to others. You really are a luminaria.

      •  You've been very kind (4.00)
        You've been very kind to me in this thread, and in others. I want to thank you for that.

        I must say that I have been very fortunate. I have not suffered much. And today I'm trying to listen to other voices. I thought I would share with you, Elie Wiesel, who suffered quite a bit:

        "Just as despair can come to one another only from other human beings, hope, too, can be given to one only by other human beings." ~Elie Wiesel, holocaust survivor and winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace.

  •  Wow (4.00)
    This may be the greatest of your many fine contributions to this blog Steph. Thanks for a moving and oddly inspiring story. Although I've had my doubts for a long time, the post-9/11 era has shaken my faith in the character of our nation beyond repair. If I had children or were I part of a non-priveleged group, I'd be inclined to just chuck it and leave, and well I may a few year down the road. This America is not the America I learned to love as a child.

    Let's stop worrying about who will lead us in 2008 and instead work on who we'll be in 2005.

    by pHunbalanced on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:35:00 PM PST

  •  Bravo (4.00)
    You've given articulation to my pain.

    I've only been able to survive it by mentally withdrawing myself from "the rest of the country". I'm now a Blue-Stater, a "Neo-Unionist" as I sometimes think of it.

    A month ago the USA rejected many of the ideals it was founded and florished upon, in favor of a nacent and niave nationalisim. Plualisim is under threat, and idealogical purity is all the rage. The founding fathers would shudder to see it.

    As for Kerry: one of the most dissapointing things about election night was that over the course of the campaign I became convinced that he would have made a very good president indeed. That doubled my pain -- that a good man would not lead our country, and a bad man (a man bad to his core, and bad in his falsely-pious soul) would continue.

    You and I are now Americans in cold-exile. We remain in body, but have expatriated ourselves in spirit and soul. My angst over this election was not political; it was social. I did not withdraw because of Bush. I withdrew because I felt I could no longer allow myself to be part of a social unit that condoned his actions and beliefs.

    You are not alone in your mourning.

  •  I wrote a very (4.00)
    similar diary 7 months ago. I'm losing faith in my country was in response to Abu Ghraib and its defenders in our govt. and country. I got some great comments from people that told me to continue to fight the fight, and I ask you to do the same now.

    We are in a dark time right now but this too shall pass. Peoples eyes will open if the light is continually shined on the abuses of this government. But we must continue to buy batteries, or recharge them, to keep that light shining. It won't be easy but we have to do it (so tempting to say for the children) in order to save what is a great country IMO. There are still a great number of people who feel as we do and even more who only need to be shown what we know.

    Many many years ago when an ex-girlfriend told me she was pregnant with my child I freaked and went to my father for advice. I worked in a poor paying retail job and kited checks to make ends meet. I knew there was no way that I would be able to afford to care for this child. My father said something that i will remember forever. He said that if the child was mine that I woud find a way to do it. There would always be somewhere that I could cut expences when I needed to. It was what his parents had done and what mine had done too. In the end it was moot because it was not mine.

    Stay strong and start your family when you are ready. It is people like you that are the future of our country. My wife and I are not having children for purly selfish reasons. What we do now will be our lasting legacy for the future. When you and your husband teach your child the lessons your family has learned your legacy will be in the future. For that I am somewhat jeolous. You will have the ability shape this country for generations to come.

    •  Reply (4.00)
      A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on.  {Not sure where I read that, but it fits.)

      Some years ago, Robert Kennedy spoke on the Senate floor against the Johnson administtation's policies in Vietnam. After RFK had finished, Everett Dirksen spoke in favor of the administration's policies. As he returned to his seat, Dirksen stopped to tousle RFK's hair, as an uncle would express affection to a favorite nephew.

      I miss those days. It wasn't that long ago that Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neill could share pleasantries after a long day of political warfare. Those days may be gone forever. I don't know if Kerry could have brought them back, but I have no reason to believe that they will return under GWB. There's just too much bad blood.

      •  John F. Kennedy (none)
        I'd hoped too that Kerry might lessen some of the poison, and that is one reason I liked the fact that he did not try to alienate all of the right. But I think now, we are nearer to the days when Senators beat one another near to death with their canes. I'm listening, today, to voices like yours, wiser than my own. Here's one of them:

        "So let us begin anew - remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof." ~John F. Kennedy
    •  Marian Wright Edelman (none)
      "Whoever said anybody has a right to give up?" ~ Marian Wright Edelman
      I'll keep fighting.
      I read your similar post about Abu Graib. It meant a lot to me.  Thank you for your reply.
  •  So much to respond to (4.00)
    I understand your love of what you thought this country stands for.  I am the daughter of a history and government teacher who spent every summer traipsing around Civil War battlefields or some historical figure's home.  Although I was a child and often bored, it affected me immeasurably.  I have great passion for that idea of America as the great shining city on the hill.

    I, like you, feel that numbness, that wonderment of 'who are we?'  Not who I thought.

    I sure understand the issue you have with your father.  I am in the same position with my mother.  This is a woman who has been kind to everyone she has ever met yet still voted for Bush and wouldn't discuss the issues with me. She has been Rushized.  I still love her and would do anything I could to help her, but there is now a wedge between us.  Thank you George Bush for being a uniter and not a divider.

    But, if I do take hope from anything these days, it's the fact that I believe, unlike many others, that those with the true Democratic ideals will begin taking back the party.  I believe we will see a rebirth of the Democratic party and George Bush has given us the impetus.

    It seems to me that we are not only stewards of the land, we are stewards of the Democracy that we hand down to future generations.  In my lifetime, I've never had a cause (other than my family) for which I would lay down my life.  Saving this democracy is a cause worth dying for.  I'd bet there are millions just like me.  That's a pretty strong force.

    Hang in there.  As painful and appalling as Bush is, he may actually speed up our agenda as others awaken to his actions.  I doubt we've lost any of those 55 million people who said no to Bush, nor are we likely to.  We'll just keep getting stronger.

    Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. -Orwell

    by TracieLynn on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:47:45 PM PST

    •  This is what scares me... (4.00)
      Even Ralph Nader's "just crazy enough to work" strategy in which Bush's crazy right-wing policies would speed the birth of a new, genuinely liberal consensus in America seems to have failed.  It was a dumb idea, promoting Bush just because his Administration would clearly discredit conservatism as a governing ideology, but at least it was something of a silver lining after 2000.  

      And yet here we are.  Bush has been worse than any of us every thought he could be.  But he won!  And his allies won.  Far from being disgusted, Americans actually support his policies.  I have no faith that the country will reject four MORE years of them.

      •  When I went to college (none)
        in the late 70s, early 80s, I was really disappointed in college life because I thought it would be a very activist place.  My hope is that the population will rise up in protest like it did in the 60s.  I realize that this administration has some of us, myself included, just scurrying around trying to provide for our families, which is a different element than existed in the 60s, but at some point, people have to figure, 'what do I have to lose by protesting?'

        I've read many things you've written and have great respect for your opinions, but I genuinely hope this is the one time you are wrong.

        Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. -Orwell

        by TracieLynn on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:13:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  There's a plot underfoot... (none)
        And I think it might be that Kerry conceded so soon because he was informed of it.

        Could it be that the Dems gave USA election to Reps in exchange for UN going to Clinton?

        I had a vision of Bill Clinton gathering up the strings of these scattered disaffected nations, giving them together a very large bite:  aimed at USA's backside!

        Does the means justify the end?  I wish they would just be honest with us.  There's too much trickery in politics.  

    •  your comments about your mother (4.00)
      and Steph's about her father reminded me about some letters from military families written to Tom Engelhart's blog about their loved ones over in Iraq, and about the estrangement they feel with their extended families who are Bush supporters.  One mother even uses the word 'wedge' as you did.  Its like there's no reasoning with a true Bush-believer.  It really is cult-like.

      The guy who cuts my hair was telling me about an argument he had with his brother before the election and his brother said something along the lines of, "Every once in a great while the universe brings forth a truly extraordinary person."  And he was talking about Bush!  Needless to say, there was not much point in him continuing the argument after that.

      I've read a couple good articles (Ron Suskind's 'reality-based community' piece being the best) that reveal the Bush movement for what it is.  A cult.  In the strictest sense of the word.  In its methods, and in its results, it is a cult.

      Draft Feingold in 2008

      by deoll on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 09:18:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope (or maybe I don't) (4.00)
        the guy that cuts your hair wasn't cutting his brother's.  Otherwise, I'd suspect there was an odd chunk cut out.  Not necessarily on purpose, but from the convulsion, the utter astonishment of the statement.

        The cult description is dead-on.  That word clicked in my head when I learned that Rush tells his listeners that they don't need any other source for their news, he'll give them the straight story.

        It's an odd thing for me to resent my Mom.  We made it all through teen years (many years ago) without me resenting her.  And, as Steph said, it is only one vote.  What I've finally distilled it down to is that I resent that this is the world she would want to leave to her kids and grandkids.  She had the advantage of the New Deal and the Great Society.  What should this era be called?

        Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. -Orwell

        by TracieLynn on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 09:54:11 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Neo-Con? (4.00)
          it sums up bush's whole life trajectory.


          thank you, steph, for a very moving, powerful essay.

          i hope you'll have children.  we need them for our future.  the bush types are having lots of kids, & teaching them anti-science, anti democracy  paradigms.  if the U.S.A. is to survive & our constitution is to be defended,  parents like you are essential.  your children will be very proud of you.

          A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future. Leonard Bernstein

          by x on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 12:48:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  synchronicity (4.00)
      Listened to NPR's Science Friday yesterday, I was hurled back in time, remembering a 5th grade homework session with my father. We were studying combustion engines and my dad, a science guy from his love of anything mechanical to his work as a systems analyst was amazed and so proud. He told me he hadn't learned about combustion until college. Sure, he was proud of his daughter, but he was more proud of  what he saw as the incredible progress his country had made in science and education.  This was the early 70's, the awe and inspiration of the space program gave my father hope, in an America filled with war, assasinations, riots, poverty hatred, the universial language of science could literally change our world.

      As I listened, I mourned my father 20 years after his death, seeing his beloved science cast off in favor of the ideology of domination through ignorance and fear.  Distortions of science so gross that evolution is now a left wing theory and global warming an alarmist myth. In my father's America,  in my father's dreams, knowledge cured ignorance, fear and hate. Curiosity was a virtue.  I will remember him as fearless and draw comfort in knowing that I am my father's daughter.

      "The further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge." - Albert Einstein

      •  Really nicely said (none)
        I know how you feel.  I lost my Dad 12 years ago.  I really missed him this election.  Even when we didn't agree politically, we could talk about the issues rationally and he was such a great resource.  That's hard to find these days.

        Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. -Orwell

        by TracieLynn on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 08:13:14 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I vote every single election (none)
          in tribute to my late father, who never, EVER missed an election, even if it was just for dogcatcher.  He also served as the head of the town Advisory Committee; in town meeting format, everyone votes but the Advisory Committee gives a list of  voting recommendations.  He took all of his civic tasks, even giving blood and refereeing Little League, very seriously, god bless him.

          Touching diary, StephRay, clearly you've touched a nerve here.  I too feel like a part of me is missing after the election.  I went to bed election night clutching my novelty John Kerry stuffed mouse (true!) and hoping for the best.

    •  It ain't over till it's over (4.00)
      I too have been blue, blue after this election cycle, though not from feeling any personal sense of alienation from my family.  My parents both survived the Depression, Mom in North Dakota without indoor plumbing trying to raise turkeys as the eldest of eight children.

      After she met my dad in college, he went off to fight the Good War and they hung on to each other through the mail.  They married and had nine children; I am number 8.  My grandfather was a new deal Democrat and I have a proclamation on my wall appointing him Postmaster of St. Cloud, Minnesota, signed by FDR.  My parents raised us to believe in community, in service, in pursuing noble causes--Catholics before the religion became obsessed with Abortion.

      The votes in our family came out thus:  11 Kerry votes, Bush nothing but scorn.  I ain't giving up.  In my neighborhood in Minneapolis, we went 90% for Kerry, the sea of blue was everywhere.  I held a banner against Bush over the freeway and got mostly friendly honks (and a few fingers).  I work in education, and there is a strong consensus that Bush and NCLB are exactly the wrong policy.

      Change is inevitable.  Yes the greed and militarism and SUV/mall culture is as sick as it seems, but I just know that there is a pendulum out there somewhere, that it is moving in a grand and profound way.  No one gets to control it; it doesn't belong to anyone, and it will roll right over the top of people who don't understand the change is the only constant of the universe.  

      I believe with all my heart that right now there is a large puss-filled growth with the initials GOP standing around with drinks in their hand wondering what that large thing is that seems to be coming their way.

      •  I think you're right (4.00)
        about the pendulum.  What is happening now seems unsustainable.

        How nice to be in a blue area.  I'm in Ohio.  I will say, though, that the results show my county, Butler County, went 66% Bush and I don't believe that.  There were just too many Kerry signs out for me to believe that.  I might have bought 55%, but my eyes and conversations will not let me believe that Kerry only got 34% of the vote here.

        The Republicans had better hope they can get the rules changed so Arnold can run in 2008 or 2012, because by the time the next election rolls around, the Republicans will be a disgraced party and he'll be their only chance.

        Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. -Orwell

        by TracieLynn on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 08:24:17 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Parents (none)
      Parents can tell but never teach, unless they practice what they preach. --Arnold Glasow

      I'm pretty unhappy with both my folks. I know my father supported Bush. My mother may or may not have. I feel as if they betrayed the things they taught me. It's hard.

      Thank you for your kind words, and your own story. Yesterday, I spoke. Today I'm trying to listen.

  •  I always read your comments Steph (4.00)
    I hardly ever post, but I read and I know many others do too.

    I have felt the despair you feel -- in some ways I am feeling it again these last weeks.  I can offer you only the assurance that standing up and following your star, your conscience, dispels this despair.  You are doing that, and in so doing, you help others.

    In my tradition, it is not doubt, but fear, that is the enemy of faith.  Doubt is the normal response of a rational mind to many events.  Your doubt will lead you to the right path.  Fear is what hampers us and enslaves us.  Many have said this better than I -- the names of JFK and FDR leap to mind.

    When I was a child, I saw body counts on TV every night, and students meeting in our living room because their teachers were on strike.  My parents told me that there were bad things happening in our world, but that strong people standing together could fight them off and make everything all right again.  Sometimes I still feel anger that what my parents told me was a lie.  But every parent I know today tells their kids the same lies.  And if I had a child, I'd do the same.

    Maybe there is no progress.  Maybe there is really more of a Manichean world with the forces of light and dark locked together in constant tension.  But what of that?  What else can we do but seek the light?  How can we live with ourselves otherwise?

    •  Agnes Repplier (none)
      "Democracy forever teases us with the contrast between its ideals and its realities, between its heroic possibilities and its sorry achievements." ~Agnes Repplier, US Essayist.

      Yesterday I spoke. Today I'm listening. But I definitely feel teased.

      Thank you for your insightful comments and for reaching out to me.

  •  wow (4.00)
    Thank you for your publishing your thoughts and so much personal information here.

    Your essay moved me such that I am at a loss for any witty retorts or smart ass remarks. (That's not so easy to do.)

    I hope some prominent Democrat employs your writing skills in the very near future. They need you.

    I had one thought after reading this piece. I feel more fear and dread about the future now than I did after the 9/11 attacks.

    It is a truly lousy feeling. I don't know what to do about it.

  •  Yes... (4.00)
    Man, sometimes you read something and you wonder how the heck the person who wrote it got into your head and managed to cart out some of your most difficult-to-present thoughts.  This was a piece like that.

    The sharp pain after the election is gone, sure.  But the sense of betrayal and fear is, I think, still there for me.  I feel like I really don't understand my country anymore.  I began to feel a little scared after seeing the hard right response to 9/11, and the credibility it was given, but this election was terrible because it seemed to suggest that, given a choice between sanity and extremism, Americans would choose extremism.  I just don't understand a country that makes choices like that.  I don't understand a country that casually accepts the fact that an inextricable and violent political situation was established on a foundation of lies.  I don't understand a country that simply rejects the idea that the government has any responsibility to provide a decent standard of living or craft an intelligent budget.

    I've spent much of the last four years screaming at frustration at the ineffectual political tactics of the Democratic Party.  But in some ways I think I understand the "consultocracy" a little better now.  I understand the risk-averse behavior, the conservative attitude, the strategies that were more concerned about fear of failure than hope of victory.  I think, at this point, Democrats don't understand America, or rather, they don't understand what it's become.  They know, and they remember, the nation they believe in.  A nation in which the survival and health of the state could not be compromised for short-term political gain.  A nation in which the government took responsibility for its citizens, and was willing to fight to protect their jobs, their economic future, and their fundamental human rights.  Democrats believed that Americans were a people that respected individual choices, respected fundamental freedoms, respected diversity.  Democrats believed Americans were a nation of people too smart to be easily fooled by fear.

    On November 2nd, it became clear Democrats had fundamentally misunderstood the American people.  The implications of that are terrifying, though.  Do we change the party in order to meet this new understanding-- giving up those few fundamental beliefs we continued to cherish?  Or do we stand and fight for those principles even as the nation as a whole no longer respects them?  I'm not as sharply or deeply depressed as I was on 11/3-- life goes on-- but I am still incredibly scared about the future of this country.

    •  I'm feeling much better (4.00)
      If you look at how Bush ran his election, you will realize that 1) He stands for nothing and 2) the election meant nothing.

      Why do I say this? Take any position he has. He ran on both sides (other than taxes).

      Abortion: Officially, his position was not much different than Kerry's. So Kerry could not attack it. Through the church network, he had his minions let it be known that he would have conservative judges in place to overturn Roe-v.-Wade. Not an official Bush position, not something he was morally for, only something he allowed done on the side. (Votes yes! Getting the whole nation behind him to accomplish and agenda? Not an issue.)

      Social Security: Again, officially he said he was not for privatization. Meanwhile, he told rich bankers he was for it. Again, he held two positions at the same time. (Votes and money yes! Getting the whole nation to actually do it? Who cares.)

      Gays: In states where conservative religion had a strong base, he brought up amendments. Elsewhere, Arnie and his 'Girlee Man' speech was the message. (Democrats are Girlee men for not voting the right way...) Again, not a 'leader' type direction, just manipulation of the message depending on the market.

      Like the war on Iraq, Bush used a massive PR campaign to sell himself. Every demographic was used to maximize output. But like every pop star, behind it is nothing. Bush does not stand for anything other than lowering taxes on the rich. Everything else is crap. Nothing but media manipulation. This is not the way a society solves problems, this doesn't demonstrate anything other than an ability to manipulate short term thinking in a society wrapped up in media manipulation.

      Bush is Milli Vallini. The American people are not stupid, they just faced an onslaught of information from their church, from radio, from TV, from newspapers that all said basically the same message.

      It's up to us to expose him.

      •  i LOVE it (4.00)
        "Bush is Milli Vanilli" -- I SO want that bumpersticker. ;-)

        Sadly, I disagree about your related point: I truly think that the American people, as a whole and relative to our peers around the world, are stupid. Not to say they're dumb -- which is when you don't know any better. No, too many American people are worse: they're willfully ignorant. Which, to my mind, is pretty much the equivalent of stupid.

        A good friend of mine, a fellow traveller on the lefty path, shared a story about her family, all of which are some flavor of Republican. At Thanksgiving, her father was actually compassionate about how she was after the "election."

        He asked her why she was so disappointed, and why she wanted Kerry to win so badly. She ticked downt the list of reasons -- and pretty much everything she brought up as concerns, he agreed with. "So why did you vote for Bush?" she asked. "I guess I just voted with my pocketbook," he replied. He's far from wealthy -- in fact, he did rather poorly the last few years. So basically he voted for Bush because he sure liked that $300 advance he got for his 2000 taxes.

        Which immediately reminded me of one of my fave comedians, David Cross, doing his impression of the typical American voter (I'm paraphrasing here): "So lemme get this straight, Mr. Bush -- If I vote for you, you'll give me $300. And during the next 4 years, you'll get to do whatever the hell you want -- rape the environment, screw up the economy, start wars, whatever. That's all fine. But what about your rich friends? They're not gonna get no $300, are they?"

        "Well... no. They'll actually get millions and millions of dollars."

        "But I'll still get my $300? ... Okay, you got my vote. Wooohooo! $300! I'm gonna buy me a hammock! Wing-ding-doodle-dee-doo!"

        So that's what we're up against (well, that and my apparently condescending attitude, but that's beside the point). A crazed madman with a bloody knife is threatening us, and our dominant response is, "Oh goodie! Someone's here to cut my sandwich!"

        Red = The Color of Debt. Coincidence?

        by swilldog on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 11:13:23 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Madison (none)
      James Madison:

      A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both.

      Our problem is that the unpopular government controls the means of popular information.

    •  We stand. (none)
      "Do we change the party in order to meet this new understanding-- giving up those few fundamental beliefs we continued to cherish?  Or do we stand and fight for those principles even as the nation as a whole no longer respects them?"

      We remind the people why these principles were once respected, and are still deserving of respect. I really hope the Dems in Congress offer spirited debate, stand boldly by their alternative proposals--and not just condemn the wrongs of whatever Bushite bills come down the pike, but provide real alternatives that the people will see as not only sane but making damn good sense. Deep down, our progressive values still do resonate with most Americans, I believe--it's just that the political debate has become encrusted with nasty "us and them", "he said she said", vitriolic "culture war" dialogue that in the end hasn't done anyone any good or solved any problem. Let's not play the game--but just hammer home, over and over again, our core principles. The only reason the "culture war" could be the trump issue in our politics is because our party has ducked from its principles--return to the principles, proudly and firmly, and the "culture war" rhetoric will start sounding like shrill noise to the people.

      Treating people just like pawns in chess, wait til their judgment day comes

      by Alioth on Sun Dec 05, 2004 at 04:37:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Loss of Faith (4.00)
    I think a lot of us will never really recover from this loss - the loss of what we believed America and Americans were really like.  I feel the same sense of betrayal at family members who voted for Bush that you describe.  The violent grief that I felt the first week has faded to a dull ever-present sense that my world has been turned upside down.  I went to choose Christmas cards yesterday and chose the darkest, most somber ones in the Hallmark store.  I usually choose something humorous with cats, but not this year.
  •  Thank you. (3.88)
    This is the first time I've written since the election.  But I wanted to say that.  Also, sounds like that piece of you won't be coming back anytime soon.  Me neither.

    Go Kerry! You are so much more than an ABB! Who knew?

    by CalDoc on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 05:55:46 PM PST

    •  CalDoc (none)
      I've missed you.  A number of times, I've been walking down the street, and I thought, "I need to see if CalDoc has posted anything."  Finally, I have had the thought while I am at the computer.  I have missed you.

      "Sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." --The Queen, Alice in Wonderland

      by DCDemocrat on Wed Dec 08, 2004 at 07:41:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  How very nice of you! Thank you! (4.00)

        I'm still figuring out how to deal with the election.  Can't stand to watch the news or even read the paper.  But somehow couldn't tear myself away from here, even if I didn't post.

        Silly question, but did you know the election would turn out as it did?

        •  No (none)
          I thought that we would win.  I think there is even a chance that we did win.

          I am in North Carolina this evening.  I am doing focus groups for the next couple of days.  My company is developing a tobacco cessation curriculum for adolescents who live in tobacco-growing communities, and we are talking with kids who use tobacco.

          I can't help but be conscious of what a red state I am in right now.

          I am glad to see you, Cal Doc.  I have been avoiding news, too.  The only thing I pay attention is dKos, and I tend to make more housekeeping than political comments.

          "Sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." --The Queen, Alice in Wonderland

          by DCDemocrat on Thu Dec 09, 2004 at 05:19:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  How funny! (4.00)
            I did some work in smoking cessation, too!  With the patches.

            I really dread the next 4 years.  I can't even imagine what they will do to the environment and our foolish public next.

            Anyway, I do thank you for answering!

            Have a happy holiday!

            •  Hi, Caldoc (none)
              I am back from North Carolina.  I did two focus groups in rural tobacco-growing counties.  I had a total of 12 adolescents who use (or previously used) tobacco who were on hand.

              I dread the next four years with every fiber in my being.

              "Sometimes I believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast." --The Queen, Alice in Wonderland

              by DCDemocrat on Sun Dec 12, 2004 at 06:50:19 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Better Days Ahead (4.00)
    I must agree with everyone else: You've written a very poignant post. At the same time, please take this from an old trooper who's seen his share of triumphs and tribulations, better days are indeed ahead, if we only stay hopeful and firmly resolve henceforth to act smarter than our traditional political foes.

    Finally, never allow the vicissitudes of imperfect politics ultimately to determine your mindset towards familial happiness. Life is simply too precious and too short for that. Unlike a bag of coal, a person's abiding hope should never be the object of stealth and can never be purloined from one's own heart short of one's own complicity and duplicity in the deprecation.

    •  A defiant hope (4.00)
      John Buchanan, pastor of the Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, preached the linked sermon twelve days after 9/11.  This sermon was also included in "Restoring Faith," a collection of sermons preached in the days following 9/11.


      What we dare to believe is that God is Lord of the future-that God calls us into the future in courage and hope.

      We have lived through difficult and extraordinary days. After the shock and the intensity of last week, we began, this past week, to deal with it, think about it, and it has been a common experience among us to be down, depressed-in a dark valley.

      A low point for me was Friday afternoon, after a long and tiring week.

      Friday afternoon I had been invited to speak at a memorial service at Holy Name Cathedral for the United Airlines flight crews that were lost on September 11 on Flight 175 and Flight 93.

      The service was sponsored by the Flight Attendants Organization and the Association of Airline Pilots. Holy Name Cathedral was full of United Airlines blue uniforms, men and woman, one week and three days after an act that had violently killed eighteen of their friends. It was a vulnerable congregation: proud professionals who were feeling understandably helpless and vulnerable. They have felt the full brunt of this thing. In the loss of friends, a terrible reminder of the danger of their work, and now, to add more cruelty, economic forces that seem to threaten their jobs and the entire industry.

      I reached for words. I told them that they were our neighbors, our airline in Chicago that had taken us where we needed to go and brought us safely home. I told them we were grateful for them and proud of them, that God loved their friends who died and that God loved them too.

      There were eighteen candles on the high altar at Holy Name. As a Pentecostal choir sang a stirring version of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," eighteen flight attendants and pilots lined up at the altar and each lighted a candle to honor a dear dead colleague. We sang "America the Beautiful" and "Amazing Grace." My good friend Father Bob McLaughlin led us in a prayer and sent us out into the world in peace. I was drained, tired, weary, and a little discouraged at my own inadequacy to find the words to help.

      And then walking up State Street, with my pulpit robe over my arm and a clerical collar on, I was spotted by a street person singing "Take Me out to the Ball Game" at the top of his lungs. They look for clerical collars-we're easy-and I saw him coming and reached for my wallet. "Father," he said (that's what happens when you wear a clerical collar on State Street), "Father, there's one God, right?" "Well, yes, there is one God," I responded, thinking "This is really going to be an expensive one." "So if there's only one God, then we're all sort of the same, right?" And I had to agree with that too. And then he said, "Cheer up, Father, we're all going to be okay." And he did the most extraordinary thing, like an Olympic athlete or like the Cubs relief pitcher Flash Gordon, who, when he gets the final out and nails down the win, raises his arm and points an index finger straight up to the heavens. It's an act of defiant hope, after a moment of extreme vulnerability. And I joined him, pointing up to the heavens. He said it again: "We're going to be okay, Father."

      We believe that God, the sovereign Lord of history, is out in front of us, summoning us.

      We dare to believe that even when we face uncertainty, danger, and fear, it is an act of faithfulness and defiant hope to lift our eyes and look up to the future to which God calls us.

      "We're going to be okay."

      Our God, our help in ages past,
      Our hope for years to come,
      Our shelter from the stormy blast,
      And our eternal home.


  •  We are all in the same boat (4.00)
    Steph:  Thanks for such an articulate, wonderful diary.  I don't have the same background that you do, but I have ended up with the same feelings for the same reasons that you are expressing.  I have always felt safe as a citizen of the US.  I have always believed that we were the greatest nation in the world. I have always been very proud to be an American.  I've lost my religion too, and it leaves me with an empty space and concern for the future of our country.  
  •  A great diary, eloquent and moving (4.00)
    My history is similar to yours, except that my ancestors immigrated from a different country, and it was my father's generation who fought in WWII.  But each generation expected that their children would have have better lives, and until now this has happened.  I am fortunate enough to have two young children.  They are everything to me, and I've devoted myself to them.  I've gone to great lengths in an effort to ensure their health, happiness, and optimal development. Two years ago, when I realized what was going on in this country, I became depressed as I realized that I might not have as much control over their future as I'd thought.  Howard Dean shot into my life like a meteor and gave me hope that, joined with thousands of others, I could actually effect change.  I worked hard for his campaign and, later, for Kerry.  I contributed to at least a dozen candidates and organizations.  I believed that we were going to defeat the forces of darkness.  

    In the past month, there have been several shifts in my internal world.  I've silently grieved each one.  On Nov. 11, a conversation made me realize that I'd accepted the fact that my children would live in a dangerous world.  More recently, increasing worry about the economy drove me to make some changes in our investments for retirement, college, etc.  As I discussed options with my sister (a financial advisor), I found myself saying things like, "If we're destitute, the boys are smart enough to get scholarships."  I've gone from assuming that our many years of comfortable income, extremely conservative spending, and aggressive savings would ensure our children's education and our family's financial future, to facing the possibility of financial disaster.  A couple of weeks ago, I was reading "A Wrinkle in Time" to one of my sons.  At one point in this book, a character recites the Declaration of Independence; reading it, I was overcome with emotion and nearly cried.  Previously, these words had been nothing more than a memorization exercise for school.  

    I don't know what to say to you about having children.  There is nothing more wonderful in the world, if you live in a country as fortunate as ours was until recently.  The future is uncertain, but it would be a terrible shame if they took that away from you.

  •  another 'me too' (4.00)
    You took the words right out of my mouth . . . but much better than they would have come out of my mouth.  My family had a loosely similar immigrant and climbing success background, and I have a similar reaction to this election - it's groundshaking that Bush is, well, -not- an aberration.
    And I do have two small children; how will I explain any of this to them?  It gives me a pit in my stomach whenever I imagine future rites of passage in their lives in the coming U.S.A. and compare them to how I've had it (nothing is easy, but I've had some advantages).  

    A terrific example of how dKos so valuably reminds me on a regular basis that, despite my more alienated moods, I am still not crazy.

  •  We are all Winter Soldiers now (4.00)
    Italics"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country. But he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."  Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    My own history is same thing, only different. My family, at least the patriarchal side I can easily trace back, arrived in Boston in 1636, off the good ship Increase. As a group we hung around Mass, fought in every war since King Phillip's and have sometimes survived, sometimes endured and sometimes prevailed.

    My grandfather got kicked out of his Protestant family when he married a shanty Irish Catholic woman and went to live in a Catholic-church slum in Cambridge, MA. (There used to be slums in Cambridge, MA. I know that is hard to believe, but it is so.) They were dirt-poor people, so much so that when twins were born and died at birth they were taken out and buried in the middle of the night at a family plot in Salem, cuz nobody had the money for a proper funeral.

    My grandfather died when my Dad was 12. My grandmother manaaged to keep him cuz he was the baby, but the other boys had to either go to the Church run poor-house or get out on their own. Hard times make hard people. Lots of shady things were done in the '30's because desperate people do what they need to to survive. My uncles helped run the old numbers game in Boston neighborhoods and took whatever jobs came along. 3 of my uncles (and my Dad) joined the war effort and then got good union jobs at the GE. And joined the Democratic Party. Because the Democrats understood what being dirt poor and having nothing in your future meant. And the Democrats organized at the local union shop and precinct captains got their assignments and knew what to do on election day, cuz you take care of your own.

    Time passes and the GE isn't what it used to be and some of the Democrats who understood what it meant to be dirt poor and who Father Coughlin was and why he was a nightmare for Democracy have died. And some Democrats got good college educations and way better rationalizations for why they are Democrats and could elucidate a position on paper and at a lecturn. And a lot of the folks who used to vote Dem found that the passion they used to feel in politics was coming from the Repugs. (I hate this with all my heart, but it is true.)

    I am a Democrat because I believe in what you believe. Compassion is not a virtue of the weak, but a wise stand for the morally strong. We help the poor and struggling because that is how you give people a leg up in a society that is biased against people without money. And that is how you prevent popular and fundamentally undemocratic movements from convincing people with nothing that the mysterious 'other' is to blame and that these 'others' should be punished. I believe in a partnership between people and their government that helps the powerless not just the well-connected. And that is worth fighting for even or because of the setbacks.

    When you feel the crisis of faith, come, stand with me, I will lend you some of mine. I can tell you about a fight my husband had on school committee to get a school built. It was full of budgeting nightmares and union compromises and that awful sense of hopelessness that envelopes so many municipal projects. (So many people now believe that all public works projects are evil and that nothing gets done without a payoff. This is a lethal attitude and keeps good people from getting involved with their own governments.) And many many hours of work and patience and, yes, faith later, a new school went up. Nasty fight, but the results are worth it.

    Don't quit. We are now living through a time that is testing your soul and your faith. But that is precisely when you need faith the most. It is easy to have faith when everything is going your way. It is much harder and more rewarding to keep your faith when times are hard. The times ask you to take a stand, be that beacon for others and talk about your beliefs. This is not easy and it will take a long time. But it is worth it. If you don't stand up for your beliefs, then who will? And there are plenty of others around to cry with, laugh with and, mostly importantly, lay plans for better days with. And in that way, Democracy and liberty become more than slogans but living, breathing things that enlighten your life.

    Keep the faith sister! We are here for you.

    •  The Catonsville Nine (none)
      Once upon a time, here in Maryland, three Catholic priests broke into the draft board and set selective service records on fire as an act of civil disobedience. My faith, in addition to all its abuses, also has a strong history of liberation theology.

      I think of them, and I think of all the people like you who wrote so generously on this thread to me, and how much you changed my despair in one day's time, and I have this to say to you:

      Marianne Williamson:

      In every community there is work to be done. In every nation, there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.

      •  When I am lying low, I look to friends for help (4.00)
        I also have what Douglas Adams called "Long dark tea times of the soul." At times like that, I look for friends who can help carry the burden for awhile whilst I rest and regroup.

        Where you are now, so once was I.

        Tis a distinct pleasure to have helped. That's what caring people do for each other. My time will come again and I know good people will be there for me. Cuz I got faith. In people just like you.

  •  speaking as a southerner let me (4.00)
    share a spin on our shared grief for what we thought we were that surprised me and, I don't know, may surprise or oddly encourage someone else

    what we consider the depths of despair ...

    to the working class blacks in my hometown, discouragement of this magnitude is SMALL compared to what they've gone through in the memories that can be passed from grandparents to grandchildren

    all the things you said in this post about immigrant family, the real, vivid, dreadful sufferings parents and grandparents told us of and what the New Deal meant.  oh god ... yes ... I staked my hopes on that New Deal dream.  even though I come from no money I was gonna rise because of my merits, my wit, my heart, my honor.

    yeah. for me that dream died when I got out of college just after Reagan's first election. there's a traditon of fascism here as old as the New Deal.  I think we are evenly split, sincerely.

    but, even in the days when I had every reason to believe in that New Deal hope for my southern-European immigrant self, even THEN, it was never as true for blacks here. and don't even start thinking about our whole history with first nations people. I'm just beginning to understand what a total-Nazi master-race face they understand about us.

    so ... dwindle, taper of rant/ramble ... when it comes to what black or first nations families were passing along between generations - the hopes and the hard truths ... compared to how deep it goes, we are innocent kids in a way - it's much deeper, older, harder than that

    and it still matter and there is still only one choice - hope, love, fight the good fight, love the children and have them anyway - on the other side of this despair, we find ourselves face to face with older, stronger, deeper fighters and dreamers

    •  thank you (4.00)
      for pointing that for lots of people of color, a "crisis of political faith" ain't nothing new. that's why i could not fall into the despair that it seems many of my white liberal friends did. hell, i imagine my colored forefathers, celebrating the end of the Civil War,the emanicipation proclamation, all to be cruelly ended and a new period of terrorism ushered in with the rise of the Black Codes and abandonment of Reconstruction. i try to imagine the anguish, the pain, of having so much hope only to be again, cruelly denied. but they fought. they didn't lie down and wallow in their hopelessness. they didn't abandon their faith in the Constitution. they formed the NAACP and kept believing that the Promised Land would come someday. we're still waiting, but i've learned from the examples of Ida Wells, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, A. Phillip Randolph, Medger Evars, etc etc that you can't ever stop believing in the promise of America. and i still do, despite what happened on Nov 2nd.

      That's not to deny the dairist's eloquence. it's just some of us didn't have much faith in the system in the first place, so there's little disillusionment to be had.

      I never thought my own government would reward disloyalty and promote the humanity of the corporation while denigrating the humanity of our citizenry.

      ha! this has been going on since the Supreme Court decided the Santa Clara Railroad case that corporations were human beings. Clinton rewarded corporations at the expense of humanity handsomely when he pushed through GATT and NAFTA.  

    •  Thurgood Marshall (none)
      Yesterday I spoke. Today I'm listening. To your voice, and the voices of those much wiser than myself. I thought you might like to hear this one:

      "Today's Constitution is a realistic document of freedom only because of several corrective amendments. Those amendments speak to a sense of decency and fairness that I and other Blacks cherish."
      ~ Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) American civil rights activist, first black American Supreme Court Justice from We The People, 1987
  •  thank you (4.00)
    Many of us, if not all, face powerful crises of faith in life - times when we feel so incredibly empty that we can't imagine what will fill us up again. That's when it comes down to one hour, one day, one week at a time.

    The only thing we can know about life is that change is constant. Sometimes we flow along with it. Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we give up. But, if we choose to flow along with it, we know from our experience that we'll find something different around the bend and that is what we can hang onto to begin to fill us up.

    We're not static. We are always becoming someone new. Endings are beginnings. And faith is found in accepting that.

    As a mother I have to tell you that, should you choose to have a child, your child will be so fortunate to have a person as richly warm, intelligent, loving, and deeply thoughtful as you are. Our children come into life with their own missions. We're just there to guide them along and I have no doubt that you would serve as a most fulfilling guide. That's the best we can do as parents if we're graced with or choose such a profound gift as a child.

    Your grief will pass and you'll find your own place in history just as your ancestors did. And I agree with others here - this is a powerful, personal diary entry and I feel humbled having read it. Thank you.

  •  Beautifully written. (none)
    That is exactly how I feel.
  •  Steph (4.00)
    I write for a living. I'd be much more proud of my work if I wrote like you have here.

    Bravo, Steph, and hang in there. So many of us know how you feel. There is light in the world, but none of it comes from Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Spare the poor people of Crawford, Texas. Send Bush a one-way ticket to the moon instead.

    by JacksonBlogs on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:30:57 PM PST

  •  Magnificent diary (4.00)
    I really know what you mean.  I've been almost sleep-walking since this devastating blow to our faith in America.  It is the third such blow in such a brief 4 years.  The election of 2000 devastated my faith in our "independent" judiciary, producing serious cynicism.  Then 9/11 happened, devastating my faith in the survival instinct that I assumed would bring Planet Earth through.  Then this.  How well these demagogues have done their homework.  How cynical they are, and how deluded.  They love power, aggression, and wealth beyond life itself.

    The frightening thing is that there's no bottom.  

    "Force always attracts those of low morality." -- Albert Einstein

    by eyeswideopen on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:32:21 PM PST

  •  So beautifully articulated (4.00)
    I hug you Steph.

    With a mouthful of ashes and the sense of being a stranger in a strange land, we're all here sharing the same painful stab in our hearts. I've been walking around, wounded - for a month. And changed from a previous, more hopeful self, whom I recall more and more dimly as the days go by.

    You made me cry. But, as others have said more eloquently that I, there is still a glimmer out there, for us. The pendulum, having swung so deeply into the shadows, will surely seek the light again.

    Plant your seed, Steph. We need your children in the world.

    The whole plan hinged upon the natural curiosity of potatoes. - Stanislaw Lem

    by bumblebums on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:32:25 PM PST

  •  Good guys/bad guys (4.00)
    My 6-year-old son has an appropriately black and white view of the world.  There is a large mural behind the circulation desk of our public library (painted as a WPA project!) that depicts a Revolutionary War battle that took place in the spot where the library stands.  My son has been fascinated by this mural for several years, and he always asks me questions about it.  He knows that we, in the blue and brown jackets, were fighting the British, in the snazzy red uniforms.  But he feels the need to label the "good guys" and "bad guys".  We, by definition, are the "good guys".  But he is confused, because this makes the British the "bad guys", and he knows that they were on our side in other wars.  When the current war comes up, I avoid the question of "good guys" vs "bad guys."  It's clear which we are, but I can't bring myself to tell him.  
  •  In a word. . . (4.00)
    . . . splendid.

    In more words. . .

    Oh. My. God. This is, simply, the most poignant take on the election, and what it really means to be a Progressive American that I have ever read in my life. All the kudos I can bestow are bestowed on you, for pulling the kernels from the insides of many Kossacks' hearts and minds, deciphering them, and articulating them in such a magnificent way.

    That said, although this left me in a puddle of tears and a well of hopelessness, it took me all of 30 seconds to sit up straight and vow that the 55m people who voted for Kerry this year will simply NOT give up without a fight. Bush's "mandate" will end up biting the Republicans in the elephant's arse because he will have another four years to bend us all over the table & do as he pleases. He struggled for re-election after four years. Think about how hard it will be for the next candidate after another four.  

    Never lose sight of the fact, not for a second, that even many red voters are kind and giving people. They are just severely misguided. We have four years to re-frame the debate. Good will always, eventually, triumph, and as we fight the good fight, we will come out on top again.

    Many, many thanks for opening yourself up & allowing us a glimpse inside.

    •  Helen Keller (none)
      You have all left me so contemplative, so humbled by all the wisdom you have left me here, that I don't know how to thank people. I talked enough yesterday, so I'm letting other people talk today . . .

      Helen Keller: I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.
  •  thank you (4.00)
    beautiful & poignant
  •  Fight The Good Fight! (4.00)
    This is the lesson of this election.  We have not been cheated of our democracy as some (here) would have us believe.  We have simply discovered there remains a large group of "Americans" who are not American.  In faith, belief, ideology, the Neocons are the return of the America of Aaron Burr.  The triumphal ressurection of the Ante Bellum South's aristocracy.  We must steel ourselves with this defeat...we must recognize that we must fight to make America what we thought it was...what is should be.


    Let the word go forth From this time and place To friend and foe alike That the torch has been passed To a new generation of Americans.

    by TheGryphon on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 06:48:32 PM PST

  •  Beautiful (4.00)
    I so admire the strength it took for you to share such a devastating loss of faith. Thank you for trusting us with your pain and doubts.
    It's been an interesting couple of days, hasn't it? The emotions of the Kerry diary last night and your moving words tonight.  
    I am truly humbled by this community.
    •  I was very scared (4.00)
      I was very scared, I admit, to post it.

      Debate, I can do in front of multitudes.  

      Personal weakness, not so much.

      I didn't cry again until I started reading the other replies to my post.

      I plan to answer them--but in a bit, when I can see through the tears, and feel slightly less exposed.

      Thank you very much for your kind comments.  And everyone else too.

      •  You have moved all of us... (4.00)
        and perhaps allowed us to feel our own grief.
      •  Thank you (4.00)
        I've been struggling to find adequate words to express how incredulous, anguished, and disappointed I feel about the Presidential election. Nothing that I've read or written before has truly captured the feelings which I (and I know many others) are struggling to understand. Then I read your diary. Thank you.

        - Trendar

        Visit The Blog Roundup - the Best of Politics on the Web.

        by Trendar on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 10:33:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You moved me (4.00)
        so much...see my bio, I am from the very first Americans (the first immigrants, I mean - Pilgrims and such - we all know who the first really were!) on one side; the hopeful immigrants on the other.  Funny, those in my family descended from the "firsts" have remained unilaterally "liberal" in politics, while the immigrants have gone from liberal to conservative, but now, are starting to wonder (though many of them voted for Bush, mostly because they bought the Kerry trahsing lies)...

        Anyway, I have been emotionally where you are now, and will be again.  Some days I am numb and don't want to think about it; others, I am outraged; most, I am despondent.  I feel like someone I loved and counted on for my personal identity has died, and an evil stepmother-type has stepped into her place.

        But there is no Prince Charming to break the whole thing up, is there?

        This is a brilliant diary; thanks for the tears, the stomach cramps, and the thoughtfulness it provoked.

        "Our particular principles of religion are a subject of accountability to God alone."--Thomas Jefferson

        by hopesprings on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 03:47:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Losing my religion (3.00)
    It is a moving post, thank you. I remember losing my faith in this country during the AIDS crisis, when our since-sainted President Reagan let years pass before mentioning the disease. I could go on because it's a gruesome tale, but that old sin is when the nation began to die. Mid-80's.

    I had a blip of renewed faith, however. Let me tell you how I regained and then lost it.

    I first felt a new stir of political activism sitting in my car in 1999 listening to a Press Club speaker - a man who spoke the truth clearly and was a tireless patriot of the people. That was of course Ralph Nader, who I still honor and respect. America would have listened if the Democrats had either shut up or given the man a mike. I cannot believe the gutter road the Dems took against Nader. America did not get to hear important words, thanks to the Democrats.

    The Democratic Party's rhetorical misdirection lied about Nader to avoid confronting his issue of corporate power. The ugliness and disrespect given to a genuine people's champion - not a mere politician - doused my hopeful spark of faith in the Dems. That betrayal hurt more than any Republican hate-filled slime, because it killed my belief in the side I was fighting on.

    I wish that rank-and-file Democrats had the independence to check out what had excited so many youth about Nader - everyone in his campaign, and the man himself, hoped that. Only the combined willfull denial by both Republican and Democratic followers could kill his vital message, it was so powerful.

    I am not politically active anymore. After 2000 and 2002 (when the storyline was, remember, "at least Nader won't SPOIL the mid-term election.") A hero was called a traitor by the Democrats. In fact, Democrats treated a dedicated and ABSOLUTELY CORRECT group of liberals as badly as Republicans have ever done. Trying to smear and destroy the reputation of one of the greatest public defenders of our time. It makes me sick.

    And the Republicans make me angry. So where to we go from here? The Democratic Party as it is, post-corruption, is only a slower road to fascism, and creepier, and more sad.

    •  "I am not politically active anymore. " (3.33)

      Some people may not be capable of accepting the heavy burden of the franchise. This burden always forces voters to set aside their Big Rock Candy Mountain visions of what politics should be and chose the best of imperfect choices. Some people are unable to bear this burden; it is best if they recognize it and chose not to participate. They would otherwise do more harm than good.

      Love the fetus, hate the child.

      by BartBoris on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:45:31 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    Once, in the 90s, when listening to some Republican friends rail on about the evils of big government, I asked them if they had ever received anything of benefit from said big government.  They paused, shocked.  Then they answered.  All of them had received major benefits--college education, farm subsidies, and on and on.  We talked about interstates,health care and many things.  The big government rant stopped and did not revive.  There was some shame.
    •  we need to sell gov back to the people (4.00)
      we need to point out all that you said, and more to the masses,  and start reversing the years and years of right wing ranting about the gov being the bad guy.  It isn't going to be the democrats that change people's minds it's going to be independant groups funded by us that run ads, that hold town hall meetings, and do everything else that is needed to defend social security, and all the other benefits that we will lose if the grover norquists of the world that is get their way.

      absolute freedom for one individual undoubtedly limit's the freedom of another.

      by jbou on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:35:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  We have to keep doing what you did (none)
      If we believe that people voted this way because they have not been informed, then we must inform.  One person at a time, at every dinner party.  Thank you so much for your comments.
  •  This is the winter of our discontent (4.00)
    Thank you.  Your diary moved me to tears, and I want to cry whenever I read or hear anything about Kerry.  If I'm lucky enough to have kids I'll probably bore them to death talking about John Kerry, "the man who should have been president."

    Always remember that when a fracture heals it heals stronger than it had ever been before.  Our faith is shaken now, but in the spring things may look completely different.  This election has changed me more than I ever imagined an election could.  And change is always painful.  But I have decided that I will dedicate my life to restoring my country to its proper greatness.  I have never felt such a call before, and although I'm not religious, I imagine that it's what the call of God must be like to those who hear it.

    We can't expect to do in just a few years what it has taken the Republicans four decades to accomplish.  We have only just begun to fight.

    "A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over..." - Thomas Jefferson

    by movie buff on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:15:17 PM PST

    •  John Kerry's Call to Service (4.00)
      He says his faith called him to public service. I believe him. By way of thanks for your warmth and the support you have given me here, I'll give you this:

      The first commandment means we must believe that there are absolute standards of right and wrong. They may not always be that clear, but they exist, and it is our duty to honor them as best we can.

      The second commandment means that our commitment to equal rights and social justice, here and around the world, is not simply a matter of political fashion or economic and social theory but a direct command from God. Christian bigotry and intolerance are nothing less than a direct affront to God's law and a rejection of God's love. ~Senator John Forbes Kerry, excerpted from a Call to Service

  •  Yes, thank you. (4.00)
    A beautiful expression of the meaning of the American dream. At least as I always understood it.
  •  Beautifully written and heartbreaking (3.81)
    Thank you.

    I am also struggling with how to forgive my parents for their votes for Bush.  Before the election, I pleaded with them not to vote for Bush, and sent a number of well-documented personal messages outlining the evidence for Bush's lies, his treason, his imprisonment of American citizens without due process, his approval of use of torture as policy, etc.

    What I feel most profoundly is a sense of alienation from my parents -- that these things so precious and so important to me do not matter to them, that we do not share the same values. I feel that my values were shaped by my parents and that they have abandoned those values over the years through their constant exposure to right-wing and corporatist media, and lack of exposure to alternative viewpoints. My respect for them has drained away and I feel more distant from them than I ever have in my life. I'm not sure how to heal this rift, or even whether it can be healed.

    I feel a similar alienation from the 58 million who voted for Bush, but obviously nothing so profound. It manifests as a sense of alienation from my very country, since so many of my fellow citizens seem no longer to believe in the ideals that make this country great.

    It's been a hell of a drop since November 2. But knowing there are others who are feeling the same profound sense of loss and yet have not given up on trying to effect change has been essential to helping me climb back and stay engaged.

    Thank you again for sharing your history and your journey with us.


    "Those who betray the trust...are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors." - George HW Bush

    by DavidW in SF on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:30:44 PM PST

    •  Alienation from Parents (4.00)
      My sister and I are suffering this acutely right now.  Neither of us can fathom how either of them could have supported Bush.  (We suspect my mother voted for Kerry, but my parents are somewhat private about their votes.)
      I love them so much, and in everything that has ever been this important to me, they have never failed me.  But in this, they failed so spectacularly that I was relieved we were unable to spend Thanksgiving together.
      It's a deep sense of betrayal, a wonder if they lied to me their whole lives about what they believed, or if they were simply too naive to doubt Fox News.  I am left with either lack of character or ignorance as my choices, and it will take some time before I have a clearer perspective.
  •  Wow. (4.00)
    Thank you.

    Between this diary and the Kerry diary, I've been moved to tears twice in one day, and this after a month of numbed shock. There's no doubt that we've all lost so much, both in terms of what was, and what might have been.

    My grandparents, Irish immigrants, raised my father and his siblings during the Depression. My father's most vivid memory from this period was that his parents had two pictures on the wall. One was of the Pope, the other was of FDR. My father was the first person in his family to go on to college, thanks to an ROTC scholarship. He felt he owed his country such a large debt that he devoted his life to the military, serving tours in Korea and Vietnam. He truly believed in the power of this country to make people's lives better, and he left me a far better life than either he or his parents had.

    Now I'm lucky enough to be the father of two beautiful children. One was born right after 9/11, and we drove by the still-burning wreckage of the Pentagon on the way to the OB/GYN two days afterwards, knowing that our children would grow up never knowing a world before 9/11, with so many vague worries abou the future that have, at least in part, become reality.

    So yes, we've lost a lot. It's important to stop and reflect, to come to terms with our grief about the direction our country is heading, and our shock and disappointment over things both big and small.

    But once we're done, we must regroup and fight on. Our grandparents and parents, and especially our children, deserve nothing less.

  •  thank you (4.00)
    for this diary step and for the comments encouraging you to continue fighting.  they have strenghened my resolve as well.  you see i am a proud American, i love this country and would never chose to live anywhere else.  i strongly believe in service.  my parents brought me up with the ethos that we all have the power to make a difference.

    i just spent a month of my life sleeping on bunk beds in my parents house, put 1,300 miles on the old jeep and generally worked my ass off to help win the election.  i did my part, we won PA, but like you i was left with this emptyness.  this was not the nation i believed so strongly in.  how could so many people not see, not understand, not... sigh

    i am back in dc now, struggling to find a job.  i am struggling, torn between finding a gig in some random law fim somewhere or competing against thousands of other young do-gooders like myself for an extremely small number of positions.  i know i can make a differnce, my perspective, skills and knowledge are unique.  but is that enough?  

    some days are good like today when i get a phone interview (thanks mlk) and requests for writing samples.  but then there are days when i feel like giving up.  all i want to do is help, i dont care about making a big paycheck or living in a fancy apartment.  i want this country to be my country, one that i can be proud of.  Jonathan above said that they can only delay progress. well i sure as hell will do everything i can to foil their attemps, we will, we must march forward.

    •  It's enough. (none)
      Be a prize fighter. If we stand together, we will do well, and the internet is one of the best things that has ever happened to people like you and me.

      Theodore Roosevelt:

      It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows achievement and who at the worst if he fails at least fails while daring greatly so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

      From a speech given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910

  •  great diary, I think (4.00)
    it speaks for all of us.

    this election changed my life.  I dropped friends--not even b/c they supported bush, but b/c they didn't care enough and I felt it showed a lack of values.  I got into a series of fights w/my family--the last of which concluded tues night on a visit, with yelling--my dad saying I sounded like stalin, and my accusation he had lost his ability to detect hypocrisy.

    (I called to apologize last night--not for views but for yelling, we are a tradition indian family and such a show is disrespect.  he stopped me and said, there are only 1 or 2 things that are so important to people.  they will see the whole world through these terms, people will never completely agree.  the best is almost.  and this made sense to me, since I can explain all of my views through the need for personal freedom and fair opportunity for all.  this is an aside, but it helped create a personal "peace"--which will be very much a war--with 11/2.  it might for you.)

    the only thing that pulled me out of the crying jags every day after 11/02, the bleakness, the helpless anger was the gathering determination to do something; to start breaking it down and detecting failures and build something that resembles what we love and want more closely.  

    there are so many things to fix, and we've got 3.5 years to fix them.  no time to lose.  not one minute.

    that is what 11/02 was to us, and that is why you will give your child a better world.  because the world you give it will not be the world we have, and because YOU will be responsible for that.

    the only way out is up, and you have to climb.  not the party, but each of us individually.  I'm trying to work on the premise that the party may not fix itself quickly enough--so what will I do, what will I innovate, what contribute (it's not $ that's worth the most), what passions, what will I build with my hands to create the change I need?

    and I'm grateful that I have a venue to communicate with so many people that I can agree with.  almost.


    p.s. (in ref to a diary point)  isn't it true that tom jefferson, lincoln all those guys were really dems???  b/c I thought it was back then the republicans and the whigs, then the republicans were renames democrats (not that simply of course) and the whigs were renamed repugs.  always drove me crazy to hear repugs claim lincoln on their side.  every great pres was a dem.  any counter-examples?

    He will never be a tough competitor. He doesn't know how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Lou Piniella

    by alivingston on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:35:39 PM PST

    •  Lincoln wouldn't recognize the Republicans today (none)
      Jefferson, though, was pretty much the father of our party.  Your post really touched me.  I haven't fought with my father--at least you two had it out.  I, on the other hand, am so profoundly disappointed in my father that I cannot even bring myself to tell him.  Or look at him.  I'm sure he'll see it in my eyes.
  •  Not myopic at all. (4.00)
    Vince Lombardi once said, "It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get back up." We got knocked down, but we'll get back up again. DFA has inspired many candidates to run for office and work to take our country back. There seems to be more and more evidence that Blackwell did not do a fair and impartial job of administering the election. After all, how can you when you are both Bush campaign chair and SOS in Ohio.

    Mutual Responsibility is a core Democratic value and the New Deal was just such a pact. Our job is to work hard and provide for our children in the future. The government's job is to be with us every step of the way.

    So, we need to nominate candidates in 2006 who will not negotiate any more free-trade agreements without adequate safeguards to protect American jobs. We need candidates who have a viable exit plan that is substantially different than what Bush is proposing. We need candidates who have a core set of values and are not afraid to articulate them.

    by Eternal Hope on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:46:53 PM PST

  •  steph (4.00)
    Thank you. I had to work my way toward reading this. I started a few hours ago, and couldn't keep going. I've opened it a few times, and then had to close it again. I had the same experience last night in the Kerry diary. I finally made it all the way through, and am so glad I did. I don't have any words for you, just thanks.

    All the snark that's fit liberal street fight

    by Joan McCarter on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 07:48:27 PM PST

  •  We must push on. (4.00)
    Thank you.

    But through it all, it has to be kept resolutely in mind that our cause is worthy of the greatest efforts and sacrifices. We must all continue the fight. Personally, I would rather die, to include in the streets, if necessary, asserting my beliefs and aspirations, than just fade away.

  •  beautiful (3.85)
    grief is the word.

    when my mom was sick with cancer years ago, I remember thinking to myself very clearly: one day soon she won't be here.  I tried to imagine it, but there was no room in my imagination for the the pain I felt when she died.

    A couple months back, feeling optimistic about Kerry's chances but still looking forward with trepidatio, I imagined that in the days after the election I might have to deal with a Kerry loss.   The same thing happened.  I could consider the possibility intellectually, but I sure did not imagine the terrble sadness I'd feel.

    I wish you'd think again about the baby.  I don't think you have to worry about what you'll say -- they really aren't looking for life lessons.  there are many good reasons not to have a child (and many who would say with reason that you're doing the right thing in not procreating) but it is an immeasurable addition to your life, and you sure sound like you could use it (and would make good use of it).  Anyway, if people like you don't have kids, my kid will find himself isolated in masses of home schooled fundamentalists.  Please -- give him some company!!!

  •  This entire thread is beautifully heartfelt (none)
    Thank you, all, for your dedication and eloquence.
  •  On our times from Nazim Hikmet (4.00)
    "To fall asleep, my love, and wake up a hundred years later..."

    "No, my century doesn't scare me.
    I'm not a deserter.
    My miserable,
    shameful century,
    my daring,
    heroic century.

    "I never regretted I was born too soon.
    I'm a child of the twentieth century
    and proud of it.
    It's enough for me
    to join the ranks in the twentieth century
    on our side
    and fight for a new world...

    "No, earlier--in spite of everything
    And my dying, dawning century,
    when those who laugh last will laugh best
    (my awful night that come to light with rising cries),
    will be all sunshine,
    like your eyes..."

    George W. Bush: All flightsuit, no flightplan

    by mapantsula on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:10:27 PM PST

  •  on having children ... (4.00)
    As of one month ago, I have no faith that I could bring my child into a better world than the one I was born into. How would a child of mine bear up under the deficits being piled on his generation before he is even born? Will my child, one day, need to steal coal to stay warm?

    But most importantly, I have no faith that I could now be a good parent. How could I look my child in the eye and convey to him or her, the faith that my parents gave to me? Children know when you're lying.

    I don't want to teach my child that people are not naturally good and that we are citizens of the most dangerous nation on earth.

    I don't want to look at my child and  tell him or her that we may not really live in a free and fair Democracy.

    I admire your courage to write such a personal diary for the public. Most of your emotions I can follow.

    There are some thoughts in the above paragraphs though, which I wouldn't allow myself to have. Why do you think you would be a bad parent, if you had to tell your child that it might not live in a free and democratic society? (BTW, if it were that bad, you wouldn't have to tell your child, it would understand it all by itself)

    Why do you allow a bunch of mediocre politicians to take away your trust into the ability of your potential child to deal with any societal hardship?

    Isn't there a saying that God never serves us something we can't handle?

    If we all could bring children into the world only, if we were able to guarantee that the life they will face will always be better than that we went through and it would work, we would live by now "in paradise on crack and ecstasy and would be destroyed by being spoiled to live on a constant high of super-duper freedom".

    One guy like Bush gets reelected and you give up on "producing the next greatest democrats to chase the bigots in the bushes?" Don't allow that. If your child couldn't go through the experience of potential political hardship, you deny your child to prove his man/womanhood and strength.  NO politician should get you down to the point to be scared to have children. Don't you think the world would need exactly YOUR child to continue the good fight?

    Please, get yourself together. There is something in this thinking that disappoints me. Actually, the attitude I would love to see is "making half a dozen great democrats to chase the hypocrits away". Your child can do it. Have a little bit more trust, in yourself and your child.

    For free speech, against free lies.

    by mimi on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:13:04 PM PST

    •  It's a tragedy. (4.00)
      I was talking with a group of moms recently. We became friends during the campaign season. These are all beautiful, intelligent, witty, charming funny, brave, amazing women. One woman said, "If I had known what kind of world this would be, I don't think I'd have chosen to have children."
      There were 9 of us there, the mothers of 21 children, none of us could really disagree.
      I grieve for my country, but more than anything, I fear for the safety, security and future of my children. I will do all I can. But it's terrifying! Much more so than if I were childless.

      All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Schopenhauer

      by rcvanoz on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:31:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then you should be grateful for your children (none)
        because it's them, who make you understand the need to fight for a better society. If you had no children, you wouldn't really know, because you were not able to "feel" the pain of living with children in misery. Children are motivators and keep you doing the "right" thing. No matter how terrifying, I would never, ever allow anybody to take away "my right to outlive any idiot" through my off-spring.

        For free speech, against free lies.

        by mimi on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 08:03:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Getting Myself Together (none)
      I think, at this point, the most I can possibly envision is adopting already born children who need a home.  We will see.  I'm still processing all the wisdom on this thread.  Thank you for it.
  •  Losing religion . . . finding new faith (4.00)
    To awaken from the myth of the United States of America and face the reality is sobering -- and yet there's inspiration to be found in the reality that means even more once we've faced the myth.

    I remember as a child and young teen losing my faith in the America of fairy tales as I awakened to the reality of the war in Vietnam, the reality of racism and injustice that the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. opened my eyes to, and the reality of an immoral foreign policy inherent in the U.S.-backed coup in Chile in 1973 (with the murder of the Chilean folksinger Victor Jara, along with so many others, in the National Stadium in Santiago), which made me realize that what we were doing in Vietnam was not an isolated aberration but part of a larger pattern of backing repressive regimes and thwarting the democratic desires of people around the globe.

    Yet as I despaired in my heart over each one of these widening levels of awareness of just how flawed America is, I became more and more aware of just how inspiring it is that people here and in other countries continue in the face of all this to struggle for justice, for truth, for peace.

    I wish you comfort in remembering both the widely sung heroes of the ongoing effort to "let America be America again" (as that Langston Hughes poem the Kerry campaign resurrected put it), such as King and César Chávez and Shirley Chisholm and Harvey Milk and so many others, but also comfort in the hundreds of thousands of us who put our hearts into working so hard on this election. We will not go away; we'll keep fighting; and in the end "We shall overcome"-- our very willingness to keep moving forward even in the face of the darkness giving testimony to a newfound faith in the deep purpose underlying our efforts.

    Thank you for this diary. To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, "The country we carry in our hearts is still waiting."

    Action is the antidote to despair. -Joan Baez

    by Nancy in Berkeley on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:20:09 PM PST

    •  You've just reminded me of something else (4.00)
      That John Kerry chose that poem for his initial campaign slogan, and then chose Bruce Springstein's line, is something I had forgotten.  It reminds me that he did understand, he did 'get' it, at least what was going on inside of me.  I try not to think of how he must feel.

      But I think you have just helped me find a reason to fill that hollow place in my heart, because if I don't keep our America safe there, it won't be safe anywhere...

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    for writing everything I've been feeling since 4:00 pst on November 2 of this year.  

    I too believed that America was that shining beacon of light for all "good" nations.

    I too believed that people would understand that the course our country was (is) on would destroy everything I hold dear about this place I was born.

    I too believed that common sense would prevail, and finally there would be a resident in the White House who truly embodied all that is good of people born to priviledge instead of the venality that was squatting in our White House.

    I too am afraid for the future of this country, but please don't be afraid to bring children into this world because this too shall pass, and we will need the hope a new generation brings to our lives to sustain us until a better time comes.

    he's not a leader, he's a texas leaguer swinging for the fence, got lucky with a strike ... Pearl Jam

    by tamens on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:21:31 PM PST

  •  Thank You! (none)
    This is a touching and beautifully written post.
    Know that you are among friends.

    All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Schopenhauer

    by rcvanoz on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:33:14 PM PST

  •  Thanks -- And a Hopeful Thought (4.00)
    My story has many similarities, many opposites, but the same concerns in the end. At the bottom is a reminder about a special blessing of this time. Briefly,

    My family experience, coming from northwestern Europe, was very much like yours during the jazz age, Depression and post WW2 era.

    Where your faith was authoritarian, ours is fiercely democratic. We're Protestants--Presbyterians who built their church as a type of republic some generations before they helped create a new representative political government here.

    So being accustomed to rational, representative government in both state and church, I began to experience your present political crisis 25 years ago when Ronald Reagan's vapid "there you go again" helped win him office and begin concluding the American experiment, restoring the ancient bondage of fairy tale, diversion and authoritarianism that we thought we had conquered two centuries ago.

    The Blessing of This Moment
    These times are the very moment that all humankind has dreamed of since the beginning of time. The internet truly replaces the Tower of Babel. Within living memory we have learned to fly, to travel into space, to build machines that can think and do unimaginable types of heavy labor, to watch events as they happen everywhere in our world, and we have taken the first steps to redesign and even create new life itself.

    So when you're pained and defeated as we all are so often in these struggles, maybe it will help some small amount to try to appreciate the privilege of being present at this moment.

    There's also the fact that several radically different futures lead away from this moment. Because of this it's especially important to do all we can. When life is balanced on a knife edge like this, very small contributions can grow into a world of difference farther down the road.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:34:19 PM PST

    •  For you, Ghandi (none)
      Thank you. I'm listening.

      "When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love has always won. There have been tyrants and murderers and for a time they seem invincible but in the end, they always fall -- think of it, ALWAYS." ~ Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian spiritual and political leader, called Mahatma "great soul"
  •  Thanks (4.00)
    Please keep writing.
  •  Okay. Thanks. (none)
    Thank you for the reflecting personal piece, it's one of the reasons I find Kos so interesting and enthralling.

    But please, no offense, but enough of the self loathing negative pieces.  I want to see positively pissed off activism encouraging others to do the same.  

    Love the site, love you all, but let's get on to planning January 20.

    The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers. - Ralph

    by CallMeOrko on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 08:36:09 PM PST

  •  Just beautiful (4.00)
    I share with you immigrant parents, mine from Albania and Greece, whose own parents brought them over, one in the womb. All four of these people spoke in mystical, hushed tones about the greatness of America, and of FDR. They raised me to believe that doing good for the smallest and most needy among us was the true measure of character, for both people and a nation. Thank you so much for articulating so well the same sense of bereavement for this country. What an excellent piece of writing. You might consider submitting it to your hometown paper for publication, as well. More people need to see it.


  •  Cathartic (none)
    Thank you.  muchly.
  •  Just amazing, Steph (4.00)
    Thanks for this.  Please keep sharing your eloquent thoughts with us.

    My grandparents are also from Italy and, like yours, they loved and believed in America.  Keep their faith.  Hang in there.  The promise of America will overcome even these times.

    Your diary reminded me of a song of similar despair, by Nanci Griffith, "It's a Hard Life Wherever You Go," from this album and also on this "best of" album:

    I was a child in the sixties
    When dreams could be held through the TV
    With Disney, and Cronkite, and Martin Luther
    Oh, I believed, I believed, I believed
    Now, I am the backseat driver from America
    I am not at the wheel of control
    I am guilty, I am war, I am the root of all evil
    Lord, and I can't drive on the left side of the road

  •  Beautiful, Stephanie (4.00)
    You'll be allright Sweet Heart, it's okay to weep, we have your back.
  •  There is hope. (4.00)
    Once, I was having a very frightening dream.  I was in a house full of demons who were trying to eat my soul, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find a way out.  But somehow I became aware of the dream, and the fact that I was dreaming, and the fact that I had control over my own dreams.  I decided I wanted to go to a more beautiful place, and suddenly there was a door in front of me.  I opened it and stepped into the most beautiful meadow, full of flowers and sunlight, the kind of meadow that appears in my happiest memories of childhood.  

    If I hadn't become aware of it, and realized my power over it, I would have continued to have been trapped in that dream until I woke up.  And that's how I view the present state of our country.  The dream isn't dead; it just needs to be reclaimed.

    Please remember, at least, that all of us at Kos want the same country as you thought you were living in, and work hard to create it.  

    (I'm even more determined to have children now that before.  I've been thinking of trying to convince my husband to have even more than we were planning.  Defiance seems so much better than despair.)

    "We kill when we close our eyes to poverty, suffering, and shame." -Herman Hesse

    by tryptamine on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 09:06:04 PM PST

    •  A sidetrack of sorts (none)
      The American Journal of Sociology had an article recently titled something like the Demographic Imperative of Religious Change by Hout. Ha. Good for you. One reason the Conservatives are gaining ground is because they're having more children compared to non-religious or mainstream religious. Sometimes more isn't necessarily better, it's just more.


  •  Tomorrow (4.00)
    The entire world stands on the edge of enormous change. It's a mystery and we're on chapter 21 and no idea how it will end. Challenges, yes! But 4 years of a monkeyking is a small blip.

    Have a child when you are ready but don't have a child because of what the world is or isn't doing today. The world is always doing something to change. Thank goodness. Stop worrying about what kind of parent you will be. For pete's sake, that you worry means that you'll do fine. The little dears don't come with instructions tattooed on their butts. Each one is a unique make and model with its own learning experience.

    Here's one point you overlook--technology. Our knowledge base is doubling every few years. I have a picture of my grandmother in her horse and buggy. I remember riding prop airplanes from Texas to Canada. I remember ice boxes and the garbage being collected by a wagon pulled by a mule team. My grandparents had a crank telephone and party line. I remember holding my first handheld calculator, my first cell phone, my first home pc, DVD, the first space flight, the first televisions. AND that's just a few decades. I can't wait to see what's going to happen in a few more.

    Social change has been astonishing-- for example the changes in equality of race and gender (still underway, but oh how different from when I was a girl!). And I think the internet(s) introduce a social change that's just beginning. My best friend is an Italian woman I've never met. I know violinists, architects, poets, engineers, all through the internet, and my family is only an email away. Think of medicine... WOW! I can't wait to see what's next.

    There may be some hard years but the pendulum always swings back. The are real problems with global climate change and economic issues. But when you are at your child's graduation, you'll look back and think... I remember standing on the edge.

  •  What a touching piece of writing! (3.33)
    My wife is Italian. She is third generation, but she grew up around both second and first generations, heard Italian spoken in the kitchen, made at home their own ravioli, conserved on energy, hid money in a coffee can, watched her grandmother's brothers and sisters fight prejudice in California. She was also raised a Catholic and a Protestant. She saw both sides of this division.

    She carries a potent immigrant spirit, without which she might be like many of her generation--spoiled or vain. Instead she has climbed in her career and keeps climbing.

    But religion or faith? She believes the right-winger has destroyed its dignity and the churches have caved in for fear of appearing too liberal. She is, as I am, in limbo.

    We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

    by southlib on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 09:14:55 PM PST

    •  Curious Southlib (3.33)
      What did your generation, since by your omission, your wife doesn't seem to be included in it, have a propensity for?  I only ask because you've unnecessarily and subtly, or, perhaps obviously, maligned the most likely propensities of "her" generation ("spoiled or vain") and I'm wondering why you haven't included the possible foibles of your generation?

      Apologies for breaking apart from the heart of this forum, but I feel the comment I refer to has already taken a wrong turn; one that I can't let go unquestioned.

      •  Excellent question (none)
        First, let me correct something, namely that "her generation" is also my generation. So, by all means, I also deserve self-critique. Second, I don't think it is any secret that OUR generation (tail-end baby boomers in the U.S.) has been characterized as narcissistic, spoiled, etc.

        For reference, fyi, see any number of books on the subject of MY generation, notably Dr. Alexander Lowen's book or Christopher Lasch's book.

        We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

        by southlib on Mon Dec 06, 2004 at 09:09:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  FDR (4.00)
    saved the world.

    GEORGE BUSH lost it again.

    God bless you, Steph, with  a child like yourself.

  •  I don't like this diary (2.92)
    And it's nothing personal against the author, but I just don't like these "woe is me" diaries lamenting about what could have been.  Yeah, shit sucks right now.  But drowning in our own tears isn't the way to handle it - and it doesn't win us voters, either.
    •  then please find another one (3.00)
      to critique.

      Stephanie has helped me by articulating much of what I've refused to acknowledge until today. I'm sure I'm not the only one. I hope with all my heart that her reaching out to others here has helped her a little.

      So please go piss in somebody else's diary.

      •  I'm sorry (3.00)
        I didn't realize that the only valid opinions were ones that conformed to the groupthink.  How invalid of me to have a differing opinion on how we should experience the aftermath of the election.
        •  you should be sorry (3.20)
          This isn't groupthink. One of our most beloved is in pain. Have you no decency, sir?
          •  no decency? (3.00)
            I made no personal attack - in fact, I made sure to state the opposite.  I am not attacking someone by merely stating that I don't like these types of diaries.

            I didn't troll.  I merely stated my opinion.  And yet I was troll rated simply because people didn't like the content of my post.  If that isn't groupthink, then I don't know what is.

            •  Really? (3.33)
              How do you beleive "I DON'T LIKE THIS DIARY" comes off to someone who has just layed themselves open to Bottom Feeders, feeding off the frailties of others, at their weakest moments, appears?
              •  asdf (3.75)
                First of all, stop troll rating me.  You've done it three times - and all of the times it has been during our discussion.  You should know the general decorum around here is to NOT to troll rate people with whom you are currently engaging in a conversation.  And yet you keep doing it to me simply because you didn't like my first post.  It's not fair to me and it's an abuse of the rating system.  If you want to rate people, learn the rules.

                Second, I don't see anything particularly mean about the title of my post.  Not liking the diary is a fact, not an attack.  Again, as I noted before, I even specifically stated in my first post that it wasn't a personal attack.  However, rather than ask me for clarification, you chose to attack me and troll rate me (3 times now) simply because you didn't like the content.  

                You talk about me attacking her and yet all you have done to me is personally attack me and troll rate me - simply because I offer a differing opinion.  Anyone who pays attention to my posts - not that anyone would - but if they did, they would see I believe democrats need to knuckle up rather than wallow in misery if they are going to move forward.  Perhaps that's not the most sensitive of approaches, but there isn't anything mean or personal about it, either.

            •  Troll ratings are pathetic (4.00)
              I disagree with you on the diary, which I found eloquent and moving.
              However I find your comment valid anyway, since the the whole point of the thread concept is to make the subject matter expressed in a diary/post more complete by shedding light on it from different angles.
              Troll rating you for this is pathetic.
        •  Spare us (3.20)
          Don't play picked on when you had no second thoughts on shunning someone at a vulnerable moment.
      •  mphysopt (none)
        no comments ever - just down-rating. Hillary Obama 2008, is that you, honey?
    •  Now that I'm on a negative streak (2.00)
      Well than my dear Super Being, go somewhere else where the trifles of heartbreak don't ruin your Winning day.
    •  the five stages of grief (4.00)
      I think we can see this clearly on this blog

      1. Denial - The "No, not me" stage.
      These are the election fraud-its gonna be overturned folk.

      2.Anger/Resentment - The "Why me?" stage.
      these are the folks pissed at Kerry or the DNC or..well you get the picture

      3. Bargaining - The "If I do this, you'll do that" stage.
      these are the folks talking about framing, and new messages

      4. Depression- The "It's really happened" stage.
      This is this diary obviously - so your nearly there Steph !

      5. Acceptance - The "This is what happened" stage.
      This is when we all become reform Democrats and start winning :)

      I am a Reform Democrat

      by Pounder on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 10:37:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you for your perspective. (4.00)
      I understand that this diary may not be everyone's cup of tea.  Your point is a fair one.  Lamentation and wallowing can be counter-productive and selfish.  It isn't even usually my cup of tea--it was uncomfortable to post.  I allowed myself just this once.

      I think people are rating you down because they feel that you're being insensitive.  If it was someone else's diary, I might feel the same way.  But since it is mine, and they seem to be trying to defend me, I am going to rate you up.

      Even if I were normally the type to take offense at this kind of remark, the strength, love and wisdom I have received tonight on this thread would have made me invulnerable.

      Thank you again, and thanks to those of you who have been so protective of me here tonight; it is both heartening to get the dissent and the protectiveness of my fellow kos readers.

    •  Hey Mahatma. (4.00)
      It's not "a lament about what could have been", it's a lament about what has come to pass.  Not every diary has the objective of "winning voters" - you can go back to your Walker Texas Ranger rerun now.
  •  Very good diary indeed (3.76)
    Can't say as I enjoyed it in the literal sense, because there is a lot to relate to at some level.

    howver, I have a slightly different perspective than most here I suspect. Being english Born, and watching america from afar, I have always thought that at its most baseness, America, and Americans in General have been pretty ignorant and arrogant, and what we are seeing now is just an extreme example of the general country as viewed from outside.

    Now being an american and living here for quite some time, my feelings have changed a little. I still see that arrogance from many. I still hate the nationalism and flag worship, and the "usa is the best country on earth" crap, but now I realize that there are considerable numbers of Americans who feel generally the sameway too.

    america is a young country, with much still to learn. It may die trying or it may grow up. I think its worth saving, and when it is saved, I hope america can learn that a country isnt about a flag, and many other nations have much to offer, and that nationalism and patriotism are 2 very different things.

    I am a Reform Democrat

    by Pounder on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 10:31:32 PM PST

    •  Pounder (none)
      My first reasoned response after 9-11 was, "OK, can our ever youthful country grow up?  Because the hour is at hand."  The early returns are not encouraging.  But such struggles can have surprising twists and turns.  
      •  My initial 9-11 reaction (3.71)
        was the same as everyones, shock. But quickly, within a day or so, I KNEW where we were headed. the instant all the flags started to be hung out, and the pictures of Eagles and tanks and all that crap.

        "these colors dont run" all those slogans appearing.

        Now its more insidious "support the troops" ribbons
        "God bless america"
        Flag lapel pins that are mandatory parts of political uniform

        Pure and simple we have gone from ultra nationalism to near fascism in 3 short years, and 1 more attack away from genuine fascism.

        Wit the way the US economy is going, we are ever increasingly becoming a paper tiger, and someon somewhere is going to call us out...only then will we see who the real patriots are.

        they sure as all hell werent those sick fucks at the RNC convention wearing purple heart bandaids.

        I am a Reform Democrat

        by Pounder on Fri Dec 03, 2004 at 11:53:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  No one is 'english' born pounder (none)
      I never heard of it old chap if I may say so.

      British? Washington took care of that in 1776

  •  Our immigrant past (4.00)
    Is what makes this country so special.  My father was born and raised in Mexico, so this is important to me as well.

    It's saddening to see the anger around immigration as well as the lunacy around legal immigrants.  How quickly we forget that most of us came from another country.


  •  You are precisely the kind of person - (3.66)
    that should have a child.  The world needs children raised by parents like you.  Now, if we can only get evangelicals to reconsider breeding we might have something.
  •  Almost as moving as Steph's diary... (4.00) the fact that so many people were moved enough to comment in such a soulful manner.

    Folks - if we can strip away the anger and defeatedness (as well as the irony) and simply approach the country in the open, idealistic and (dare I say) spritual feeling that informs this entire diary, we will begin the process of winning the hearts and minds of this country.

    Let's not be mad anymore.  Lets not accuse and point fingers and cut off friens and loved ones.  Lets just talk about life in a more meaningful world.  Bush is not the enemy.  The republicans are not the enemy.  Our enemy is within us.  Its the part of ourselves that allows us to be dragged down and act like less than we know we can be.

    If we all acted like the people I'm reading in this diary, Rush's words would have no  resonance.  Hannity's bile would not stick.

    And Steph = have that baby.  The world needs children from people like yourself.

  •  Touched by Diary and comments (4.00)
    America as our founding fathers meant it to be for people of courage and honor. The Italian fibers of your ancestors are intertwined with many of the great generation.

    Still today represents the backbone of true and lasting Patriotism. In God We Trust, for many fine Americans that has included the Presidency, not knowing their eyes are shuttered.

    Hope and Love are personal possessions to be shared.
    Thanks Steph for inspiration and a great supporting community DKos.

    When a moment of silence is so inspiring

  •  Welcome to the real world (4.00)
    What strikes me about your crisis is how much it seems necessary.  George W Bush is not an aberration of history, but it's fortunate son.  We do not live in a free and fair democracy, and I really think we need to wake up to that fact without being destroyed by it.

    Let me hopefully preempt any knee-jerk censors by making it clear that I'm not dismissing someone's grief but rather suggesting that as hard as it is to wake up from the American Dream, it's critical that more and more of us do.  The bleak reality that 11/02 brought into awareness is simply the world as it is.  The world where real work is done.

    Welcome... you're not alone.

    Sweet are the uses of discontent.

  •  Your statement... (none)
    I was to render unto Caesar the things which were Caesar's, and unto God the things that were God's.

    is being inverted by the Dominionists. As in:

    They desire to render unto God the things which are unto Caesar...God keeps the God stuff already acquired.

    "But then I viddied that thinking is for the gloopy ones and the oomny ones use, like, inspiration and what Bog sends." -- Alex de Large

    by rgilly on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 01:26:31 AM PST

  •  My 2 cents (none)
    I agree with your entire post. We haven't even felt the tip of the iceberg of the loss and suffering this country will endure in the coming years. However, we are at different stages of grief, I went through my mourning with Dean. To me he was the greatest hope of turning back the right wing tide. To me Kerry was a stop-gap measure the last barrier before we all felt the wrath of the most bigoted radical hateful Republicans this country has seen in look back on the Reagan years and think of them sentimentally was unheard of four years ago.

    This is where we differ and I think our only difference lies because as I said we are on two completly different level of loss. I am on the anger level now.  Kerry to me was our last wall of defence. My anger comes from my feeling that he did not fight until the last drop of blood in his body was drawn. I am angry because we had it in the palms of our hands and he was too afraid to grab it and hang on with all his might. I am furiuos because he had a Plan "B" for himself. Setting aside the campaign funds is ridiculous as storing up on food in case of a nuclear attack. To me Kerry didn't get it that this country was on the path of no return. There are no Plans B, C, D... That was it...there will be no re-match for years to come.

    If there is a next time I want someone who won't hesitate to get into a bare-knuckle knock-down drag-out last man(or woman) standing brawl to save Democracy...gracious people need not apply. [This is why I sent Gregoire money, hell if she is gonna fight to the last second I will do I all can to support that]

    The point of your diary that hit me most was the children. That was in my wave of FIRST thoughts hearing Kerry's concession speech..."OMG, I can't have kids now".

    •  Kids (none)
      We have to have as many kids as we can to help off set all those home school creationism fundies! They are multiplying like rabbits>;-)

      The beatings will continue until moral improves!

      by mad ramblings of a sane woman on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 06:02:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That my first reaction (4.00)
        We need to have more babies just to get our numbers up a bit.  But alas I have three children:  2 have gone to the dark side after marrying, both boys.  Gotta keep the good woman happy dontchaknow!  Heartbreak for me.

        My daugher is hanging on as a dem.  She and her husband and 4 kids (she is doing her part) are in the upwarding mobile, well educated, suburbanites that bush is winning with his low taxes no matter what.  the only thing that keeps her a dem is rising cost of school as one bond issue after another is being passed just to keep up the surge of newly minted suburbanites and Bush's underfunding local public schools.  She sees the big picture, but still hard to keep her on the good side.

        So no guarantee, but kids can give you your heart back.  They are your heart walking about in the world.

        •  That is the sweetest thing I have ever heard (none)
          They are your heart walking about in the world.
          •  Isn't mine directly (4.00)
            My father set a tradition by buying a "special" gift every Christmas.  Mom took care of 99%, but there was always one "dad" type present.  Usually totally worthless and totally loved.

            When my first born came ,my father kept the tradition and gave me a poster named "the Receipe for making good kids."   10,000 hugs and kisses etc.  It is now reframed and in my daughter's kitchen.

            I gave Kris a new small "special gift" each baby.  with the birth of her 4th and last child, the plaque I gave her was about understanding motherhood is to watch your very own heart walking around in the world.  It was a difficult pregnancy for my daughter (life threatening) and when they both came home I gave her the small plaque.  For the very first time her stiff "I am strong" demeanor broke and she wept full out.  she understands.  

            That she understands this is one of my best gifts to her.

          •  and it hurts when they are walking in Iraq (none)
            it kills your heart just thinking about it ...

            For free speech, against free lies.

            by mimi on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 07:49:00 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  When you have children.... (4.00)
    I'm sure they'll look just like this, Steph.  ;)

    (Seriously -- They are the greatest gift.  And I say that even though my youngest is keeping me up all night.)

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    for this beautiful post.  You have moved me with this expression of grief and sorrow. Half of a Nation in mourning for the potential loss of all that is wonderful in this country.

    But after the grief, let's all start to work together to rekindle the dream our Grandparents had when they came to what they thought was the best country on earth.  They made sacrifices to make sure we lived in a world better than the one they had.

    We have become complacent, thinking they had won. Now is the time for us to make our sacrifices to ensure the sacrifices of those before us were not in vain.  It is time to bring back that promise for the next generation.

    All the things you found beautiful as a child are still here. We just need to shine the light on them. Don't loose your faith.

  •  I'd rather just read this here first (4.00)
    than only kos readers get to read it. I don't want this to be an exclusive privelege of kos readers.

    I know a lot of print publications have qualms about printing something that's already been published. But that shouldn't stop them.

    This is better than anything I've read since the election.

    You know how amazing it is when she says "will my child have to steal coal?" and before you are able to reflexively criticize it as a predictable device or something you notice tears running down your face. Only the best films do that to me. It confounds my mind.

    Must be something about it being true.

    The opening, defending the New Deal, is absolutely smashingly powerful. This is like the Obama keynote, maybe even better in substance. Obama gave us hope that we could find an inspiring candidate. This slams home, right in the gut, the forgotten core of liberal philosophy.

    Something should be done with this. I mean, is this just going to scroll off into the bit bucket?

    •  Hmm, a book of essays (none)
      What Liberalism (L word loud and proud)Meant to Generations, What Dismantling it Will mean for the Next?

      Yeah, shorter title.

      Or, maybe the whole idea is corny.  But, the diary isn't, and other essays and poems, where the seriousness of what has been lost told through personal generational stories could be a good thing.

      Yeah, people have to buy it.  

      A smarter more creative mind than mine could make it marketable outside liberal circles because I'm talking about touching everyday people leading everyday ordinary lives where not much thought is given to politics or government but just getting by because the don't believe in any of it anyway.  

      Powerful stories that look like their own life, their families history, their story! could be very persuasive that progressive government is worth believing in for a better society and it's worth the activism necessary to make it possible.

      Great essay, Steph.  I'm familiar enough to know that you're not a wallower so it never occurred to me that you should be told to buck up and get back to work.  You have been the one encouraging all of us to do just that, before the election and after.

      "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine

      by Cathy on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 04:20:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Could even the most ignorant fundie (4.00)
    disagree with the observation that what America has been was far better than what America has become?

    You may have hit on the common ground, Steph.  The people I know who voted for Bush are not evil people.  Benighted, sure.  Ignorant?  Perhaps.  Ill-informed and lacking the tools or inclination to  think critically?  OK, I'll give you that, too.

    But they claim to love this country, and I suspect we should give them the benefit of the doubt.  Because if they do, they must recognize that  every thing they have, and are, and hope for their children to become springs from the compact FDR made between the government and its citizens.

    Looking back, it's amazing that we ever held a position of moral leadership in the world.  When we were a young, boisterous fromtier country, we slaughtered and dispossessed Native Americans, and the world winked at our "youthful transgressions." We made the world safe for democracy with a segregated army, and nobody blinked an eye at the irony.  Even as dogs and fire hoses were brought to bear against American citizens in Birmingham and Montgomery, we held our ground as the leaders of the free world.

    Clearly, it was not our conduct as a nation that earned that lofty position;  it was our ideals.  Because we are human, and our institutions are occupied by humans, we often fell short of the mark.  But our ideals were never in question, and as long as we were making progress towards those ideals, we were forgiven for not being perfect.

    Our ideals have been corrupted.  There is a sad disconnect between the conservative wish for a return to the 1950's, amd Eisenhower's (a Republican, BTW) warning against the impending hegemony of the military-industrial complex. In the idealized America of the average red-stater, you might spend a Saturday morning at the mom & pop hardware store, picking up supplies for a leisurely home-improvement project.  In the real world, Wal-Mart has mom & pop in their sights, and  wants nothing more than to rape mom, sodomize pop, crush their business, and if they're sufficiently compliant, allow them to spend their retirement years as cart-jockeys at one of their Giga-Stores.

    I can't believe that the people I know consciously want this.

    The peculiar thing is that our government still stands ready to hold up its end of the bargain.  The laws are in place, the agencies are staffed and funded.  Those ideals still reside in the American breast.

    Maybe what we need is another social compact; not between citizens and their government, but between citizens and each other.  Start with some basic precepts with which few would disagree: Fairness is good.  Kindness is good.  Being helpful to those in need is good.  Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless......good, good, good.  Americans do these things reflexively in times of emergency, with great energy and generosity.

    Why should we wait for the next flood or hurricane?  These are our everyday values, our everyday ideals.  We Americans know this at our core.  We, as individuals, have betrayed neither our values nor our ideals.  We have, however, become complacent in the assumption that our government continues to share those aspirations. Many of us have not yet come to understand that this administration serves corporations, not citizens.  Most of us, if we thought about it, would reject that policy.  Job one, it seems to me, is to get our friends and neighbors to think about it. It is, as they say, like eating an elephant.  A big job, but it can be done, one bite at a time.  We can rebuild the temple of Democracy one brick at a time.  Grab a brick and get to work.

    A proud member of the reality-based community!

    by roxtar on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 03:52:40 AM PST

  •  From an old lady with kids and grandkids (4.00)
    Please do not be childless if you would really prefer to be a parent.  We need people like you to be parents.  Otherwide only the bigoted will reproduce.  That is worse than anything else that has been done to us so far.
    •  One old lay to another (4.00)
      Right on!!!  With a heart this big, altho breaking right now, she definitely would be a great mother.

      one of my common lectures as my kids were growing up [which they can recite verbatim] is change what you can today, work to make tomorrow better, and always have a dream to work towards.  But first, right now, take care of today.

      Have a child, relish the love going both ways, plan for tomorrow financially and physically, and dream about a better tomorrow.

      Plan for today? Go outside -- touch a tree, look at the sky, watch a flock of birds soar on wings of air, plant some flowers.  The elements of earth have not changed.  They are our constant as people go about doing good and bad things.  there are miracles happening each day.  Inspite of Bush.

      Miracle of today? Here in Minnesota it is cold and the ground is frozen.  Yet -- I saw the tiniest of birds outside flying around,and then sitting, happily it would seem, in my pine tree singing his chickadee song.  Why isn't he frozen solid?  A miracle today.

  •  Depression, Regression, Power, and Action (4.00)
    What a beautiful diary!  And what a sense of deja vu reading it.  I'm a bit further down the recovery timeline than you, and I have some thoughts on what you've written.  This is just my personal philosophy, please feel free to discard it if it doesn't suit you.

    The story of your immigrant family was very familiar to me.  My great grandmother's last address before coming to the US was a poorhouse in England.  Her father had come here first, and gone to Minn. as a logger to earn money to bring the family to America.

    When I was young, I never reflected on the amazing strength that those people must have had.  After overcoming enormous hurdles just to get here, they then coped with the Great Depression, the World Wars, McCarthy, the birth of the Civil Rights movement, and Vietnam.  They toiled under horrible labor standards.  All the while, they coped with technology advances occurring at breakneck speed, which made their world seem new and alien every day.  They successfully made a transition from Slow Time to Fast Time, and they did it as they were growing older, which is incredibly difficult to do.

    I have no idea how they kept from losing themselves in this hostile and alien landscape, but they did.

    Building a better world is a marathon, not a sprint.  I will resist the 21st century notion that a person can be beaten by short-term events.  I will change my timeline to a longer view, and embrace the fight.  I will not betray my genetic gift and throw away 4 generations of hard work because of 4 years of short-sighted small-mindedness...or 8 years..or even 12 years.  My great-grandparents did not curl up and die, and neither will I.

    And in the end, I realize that I hold the power over my own thoughts.  My outlook is mine, and I am responsible for it.  I will not allow the thugs to spoon-feed to me my outlook on life.  I do not wish to be beaten, and so I will not be.

    If I get the chance to make a major difference, I will do that, but it's much more likely that I will do as my grandparents did -  make the best life I can for my family, make the changes I can, lead by example, and always do what I think is right, no matter what the people around me are saying and doing.  I owe my forebearers this much, and they've passed me the genetic gifts of backbone, stubbornness, and independent thought so that I can accomplish it.

    _As I was going up the stair, I met a man who wasn't there. He wasn't there again today. I wish, I wish, he'd go away._

    by Clues on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 04:33:20 AM PST

  •  Thank you, girl (4.00)
    That was so beautiful. I know that America you speak of; I grew up there, too. I love it so much, I cry at Capra movies.

    I know the loss of faith, too. I cried the night Clinton was elected, because my fellow Americans had rejected hate and embraced this man who spoke of bringing us all together. I was sure this time that kindness and hope would prevail once more. That's what hurt the most. My people let me down.

    I'm so grateful to you; I've finally been able to cry.

    Oh. Have the baby. Humans are tough. We need more with your kind of strength and wisdom.

  •  Your Words. (4.00)
    Excellent. Impressive. Powerful. First class. Compelling. Eloquent. A very moving and well written piece.

    Those are all words and phrases I've used in the past to describe posts I've read here on Kos and maybe on other sites.

    It goes to show you that we should choose our words carefully, as I have no adequate superlatives left to describe what is definitely the finest and most gripping post I've ever read on a weblog, bar none, anytime, anyplace.

    I think you gave voice to the innermost feelings of millions of Americans, but I speak only for myself when I say that you perfectly captured my own despair.

    If Cheney can ban the New York Times, why are the Washington Democrats still appreaing on Fox News?

    by Lords on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 04:57:32 AM PST

  •  Yes! We are All a Nation of Immigrants (4.00)
    Don't forget the newer ones, even though they may be illegal, don't look like you, don't speak like you, in fact are scared to death of you.

    And aren't privileged like you.

    They are the future of America.

    Will the circle be unbroken?

  •  Welcome to my world. (4.00)
    I hear you. I've been there for a long time now. A lot of us have; everyone has their own threshold beyond which they can no longer believe in an idealized fantasy of what this country is. Some take longer to get there than others; some never will. I envy you the years of unshakable faith that you had; that was stripped from me a very long time ago, and once lost it is not easily regained, if ever.

    The struggle, I think, is to achieve a balanced perspective. Too many on the left, after having their eyes opened to all the things that are wrong with America and American culture, allow this cynicism to spread until they become, to one degree or another, a caricature of the "blame-America" haters the right thinks we all are. This is just as bad as those who can overlook any wrong in the name of nationalism--or worse, subscribe to some fantasy white-knight America that doesn't exist and has never existed.

    My immigrant ancestors were long-dead when my grandparents were born, so I never grew up with the kind of experiences or stories that you and others like you had. It made it easy to take this country for granted, and to fall into that trap: for years I was so cynical, so disgusted by all that was awful about America and its bloody history, that I lost all perspective. I had never traveled abroad, so I'd never had the opportunity to see firsthand just how good we have it here in the worst of times. It's only these recent years that I've gained that perspective, and started to achieve that balance. This election set me back a ways, but one thing has helped me see it through, so in the hopes that it helps you as well, here it is:

    My faith in this country rests not on what it is, but on what we, as a whole, in our best moments, aspire to be. All those lofty ideals that gave a cynical teenager sugar shock in civics class are things I cling to now as rays of hope for the future: equality under the law, decency to one another, the notion that one individual can make a difference and make their voice heard, that participation in the civic process is not only a right but a duty... all these things and more, the things that feel like cliches to the cynical, reflect not necessarily where we are as a country, but where we must aspire to be.

    It sucks that we're not there. It hurts to think that more than half the country was so (insert choice adjective here) that they voted to reward four years of failure and assault on the fundamental ideals of this country with four more years to do worse. But keep faith--keep perspective. Remember that no matter how much damage these people do to what this country is now, they cannot take away what we aspire to make it.

    Slouching Donkey, Lying Elephant:

    by Catsy on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 05:00:28 AM PST

  •  Wow.. (none)
    Beautiful diary.  Steph - I'm a fan.
  •  For those without a story (4.00)
    I echo the sentiments of so many here. What a profound and beautiful diary. I'm still weeping as I ponder it.

    So much of what makes these words profound is the sense of history that is heartfelt and well-told. Many comments here have reflected a similar connection with their own personal histories, and honor for the brave men and women from whom they descend, and, in many cases, from whom they learned their own activism.

    For many people, though, the story of their own history; the struggles of countless ancestors, poverty, perhaps bigotry and religious persecution, are not accessible. They don't know their own stories, either because no one in their families preserved them, or because, the way they look at it, they've earned every bit of good fortune that has come their way in life. Without those stories, and without a connection to the American Dream as fought for by a family's first citizens in this country, most people will never make this kind of connection with the fundamental reason for politics and government--the preservation of liberty and justice for all.

    At this point, I feel the need to say something hopeful and I'm not sure I'll be successful. Will my twin nieces, born into the upper-middle class in a safe neighborhood to parents who vote Republican have any concept of the struggles that made their blessed lives possible? Will they honor their granddad who dropped out of high school to pick cotton and got his college degree with the help of the G.I. Bill. Will they understand that their relatively successful aunt, who is disabled and couldn't get a job flipping burgers, fought prejudice and stupidity from potential employers for four years after college before she landed her first job? They won't know about these things unless they're told, and unless they have the experiences and wisdom to see beyond their fortunate places in the world to the lives of those who were more difficult than their own.

    So find your story. Don't embellish it or turn it into a sound bite the way office seekers do, and as the people in this community have NOT done. But find it. Try to understand how your story can help the children and young people in your life, and how it can be made relevant to them.  Please! Let's raise up a generation of people whose first religious impulse is not to condemn, but to give thanks.

  •  Thank you (4.00)
    Stephdray, your diary was very helpful to me.  I forwarded it last evening to a couple of non-dKos readers because you've put into words many of my emotions over the past month.

    I'd like to share my experience with you.  Two weeks before the election, my father-in-law died.  My family traveled from the west coast to Ohio for the funeral.  I was encouraged by the large number of KE04 signs I saw in Ohio, and I even brought a magnetic KE04 sticker and put it on our rental car.

    I fooled myself, I suppose, into thinking Kerry would win Ohio and therefore the election.  When last month's disaster happened, it was like a slow-motion horror film.  I stayed up until 3:30 AM watching in disbelief.

    On the Saturday following the election, my wife of 23 years and I got into a rare argument.  Of course, she still was in emotional pain from the loss of her father, and she complained that I should quit being so negative about the election - that this country had been through worse and survived.  

    The argument escalated and when I said I was feeling "grief" over the election and the loss of the ideal America was held for me, her face turned to stone and she turned away in silence.  To make matters worse, as she walked away in tears I raised my voice and said "I'm sorry about your Dad, but you don't have a monopoly on grief, you know!"

    What an idiot.

    I left to run errands.  When I got back, we talked through it, as we fortunately always do, and things are back to normal between us.  

    I lost a parent several years ago to a lifetime of tobacco use, so I know the feeling of grief.  Grief and a feeling of betrayal by this nation was what I was feeling, and I knew it. But I shouldn't have thrown that at her in her time of grief.

    I printed your diary out last night and will ask my wife to read it when she wakes up this morning.  I think it will help us discuss the differences in our feelings about the election, and what we should do about it as a family (our oldest son will be draft-eligible in 2005).  

    For that, I thank you for sharing your feelings.  It will help my wife and me, and I'm confident it has and will help others as well.

  •  This election... (4.00)
    has profoundly changed the way that I feel about the American political process, hence about America herself.  I call it a loss of "innocence", though it was the loss of my innocence. America had long ago lost her's. We are returning to a time now in which a few very powerful people control the wealth and media and government of this country, when there was no middle class, when the growing very bottom of the rung struggled to put food on the table.

    I saw the demographics of people who participate in this forum. I think the majority probably earn over $50,000 per year, probably well more than that. I am below that figure, and many who work with me earn minimum wage and slightly above. I'm  not sure you can really understand the plight of the working poor until you open your eyes and see it for yourself.

    Politics and everyday life are co-joined, though many refuse to see this. I think it is because most refuse to understand the threads that tie our society together, that we as a country are in the predicament we are in.

    I have no more faith in a political process that spends millions each year to misinform the public through propaganda ads. There are hungry and homeless people in this country. Has anyone hear read "Nickel and Dimed"? There are people working everyday, who can't afford to eat some meals.

    Here in Louisiana, the republican and democratic parties have each spent over 1 and  one-half million dollars on the third congressional race. People are getting rich off of these campaigns, and of course, have vested interest in divisive campaigning.

    For the very poor in this country though, or the working poor, things are getting worse.

    I am close to swearing off of American politics altogether. Democrats can talk a blue storm about boycotting "red" corporations, but to me, they are all red because they feed into a gigantic, monstrous system that feeds itself, greedily, while children go hungry..

    Shame on America. I'm losing my faith in her to change for the better.

    •  And this site... (4.00)
      is more important than expensive, political campaigns. The true heart of American democracy sings right here everyday, and in a million other ways in this country. I feel we are not yet awake to, the immense odds we are up against; what is truly at stake here.

      It is a corporate-run, environmentally degraded world for our children, and children's children...

      or it is a world that explores the concept of social justice in each and every one of its decisions. It is a world that cares for the ecology of the planet, and refuses to base a social system on "consumption".

  •  Losing Faith (4.00)
    Thank you for your heart rendering diary. I too have woken from this heartbreaking election with more of a awareness of myself. I have never been very religous and since this election have become less. I too feel that America has been swept away from the real ideal that has made us who we are. This has been in the works for a long time and the events of the last 4 years have only given the power to the ones perpetrating it.

    Unfortunelty, it will get a lot worse before change can come. It has been about 70 years since the 1st round of reform and it was a long time coming to tear that down. The neo-cons just cannot stand it that they cannot be the only trough feeders. They want complete control and we are on a slippery slide into Facism. The signs are here be aware.

    I hate being so negative. I am one that will get swallowed into the doward spiral. See I am a middle age woman (approaching 50), married, no children and in not very good financial standing. This is not because of irresponsibility, neglect or ignorance. Just a result of living a modest lifestyle without any longterm benefits from employers. So you see Social Security was to be part of our retirement. If this administration has its way that will not be a benefit. This means hardship until we die. I hope that when that day comes there will be choices like in the movie Soilent Green. Have your wishes for you last meal and go away peacefully.

    Your diary brought tears to me. I feel the same pain and for now living day to day and hoping for a miracle if that is possible.

  •  The Joy of Children (4.00)
    I too feel that my children are my joy and reason for living.  I remember when my oldest son was four years old.  I picked him up at preschool, and on the way home, he said, "There's a new boy in my class.  He has the same name as me.  Why do people say he's black?  He doesn't look black to me."

    Wonderful.  My son and I than had a great conversation listing all the ways he and this boy were the same and different, beginning with the same name. My son considered this especially significant.  When we got done, my son knew they were 99% the same. My son concluded that the only real difference between was the inconsequential one of, "He looks like he been to the beach more than me." (We lived on an island at the time).

    Out of the mouth of babes.

    Thank you for your beautiful diary.  As a child of immigrants (Irish Catholics), I was feeling the same way.  You put my thoughts into words.

  •  Thank you. (4.00)
    My God, it's as though you took what I have been thinking and feeling out of my thoughts, heart and soul and put them into words.

    Yours is the most beautiful, moving post I have ever read.

    Thank you for taking the chance to post it.

  •  I'll chime in with many others here (4.00)
    and say that you seem to have gotten inside my head and moved me to tears.

    I've been in a virtual media blackout since the election. And it was due to far more than just Kerry's loss. My daughter, our first child, was born at 9:45 pm on Nov 2nd. At the time, my husband and I thought it was fate, or at least fortuitous that I went into labor on election day. We had been so invested in the election, intellectually and emotionally, for over a year that waiting it out all day would have been torture. Having something else momentous to focus on seemed a good thing. Besides, in our heart of hearts, we believed, truly believed, Kerry would win. America couldn't, just couldn't choose Bush knowing all that we know. I kept talking to my belly, telling her that the world would be a much better place when she arrived than the one her parents had been enduring for the last four years. So we went happily into our news blackout (easy to do in the weird closed universe of a hospital) sure that we'd wake up the next day to a bright new future.

    Sometime in the middle of the night as we got settled into our room with the new baby, we began getting an unhappy vibe about the election, doctors and nurses whispering in the halls, people quietly cursing their tvs in their rooms (this is NYC, where absolutely everybody voted for Kerry). My husband and I, without exchanging a word, mutually agreed not to face it, not yet.

    By the time I got home, it was all over. I'd missed the networks calling the states, the proclaiming of a winner, the concession speech. I felt I couldn't turn on the tv, couldn't read the paper, couldn't read the blogs, all the things I'd done so frequently before the election. A huge part of my life had just evaporated overnight. A week later, still swamped by hormones (and a profound lack of sleep) when my husband and I finally began to talk politics, I broke down sobbing. The future of our country seemed so bleak and hopeless. All the work we all did seemed all for naught. We had worked our asses off to win the game and it seemed the whole time the other side had quietly figured out a way to do away with the game altogether.

    Before the baby, we had been debating whether or not to stay in New York, or decamp for someplace quieter, cheaper, where it's easier to raise a child. We were definitely leaning towards moving, just waiting for the right opportunity. Now I have to admit, I'm afraid to leave. New York is a cocoon. It's liberal, multicultural and intellectually progressive without even trying. You can say "Bush is an idiot" outloud on the subway platform and be fairly sure that everyone around you will nod their head in weary agreement. Since the election, I no longer feel welcome outside the city. Clearly I don't have nearly as much in common with the rest of America as I previously thought. It feels like America rejected more than Kerry. They rejected me and my family. We don't belong there anymore. So how can I raise this girl we have out there? The challenge of parenthood is already staggering. Now we have to find a way to raise her to be open-minded, open-hearted and intellectually curious in an America that has turned it's back on all of those things. The challenge seems more than we can overcome in a red state. Better to stay here in our little bubble.

    I'm sure my malaise and trepidation will ease over time. I just hope that when it's gone, my old passion, my belief that I can personally effect change, will return. It has to, because I can't raise my daughter to be as jaded and weary as I feel right now. She has a big job ahead of her and somehow I have to instill in her a faith that I seem to have lost.

    •  Teach her this... (none)
      "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today, at home and around the world!"
      ~ John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
      American Statesman (35th US president: 1961-63), youngest president from Inaugural Address, 1961

      Thank you so much for your story. It moved me tremendously. I'm very contemplative today and listening.

  •  best.thread.ever. (4.00)
    not only was this essay amazing, but the comments were as well.  it seems the entire community really opened up on this one.  thank you steph, for your diary, and thank you to everyone else for bearing your souls.

    "Democrats: Always standing up for what they later realise they should have believed in." -Jon Stewart, the Daily Show

    by anna on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 09:28:16 AM PST

  •  Where the hope is (4.00)
    Wonderful account. On the personal side, we're about to have our first child next May, and with the timing I gave half a thought to setting up a Website for the fundamentalist fraudsters to enjoy on the theme of "Elect Kerry or we'll abort this child. We could not bring it into a world of Bush." But I didn't, and we didn't.

    Okay, so as you point out we can't raise the child on the myth of America (presuming that the full scope of the election fraud never comes out, and that when the child is 12 Jeb will still be president). Except ... we can raise the child on the myth of resistance. And that myth of resistance can be a bright hope indeed.

    Okay, it helps me picture this that we're in Vermont, a self-mythologizing place perhaps more than any other state. Of course, on one level such myths are "false." There's less difference between here and New Hampshire a few miles away than between the myths of the two states. But still the myth of Vermont is in large degree true simply because people here like to constitute it in our lives. And part of the Vermont myth is a myth of resistance, against New York which tried to seize it at one point, and against the British, and then as the state to contribute the largest proportion of its population against the South. The Green Mountain Boys are remembered.

    The feeling called "patriotism" is emotionally rooted in a sense of tribe - nations haven't been around long enough for us to have evolved distinct human emotions towards them, but tribes have, and its tribal feelings we lend to nations. And it's important to have a tribe that you can honestly be proud of - so important that testosterone levels go up across a city the next day when one of its major sports teams wins a game; our biologies are keyed to these tribal emotions.

    But tribes can survive as minorities, the heroic examples of this being Gypsies and Jews in their disaporas. The preservation of elements of myth that facilitate such survival is partly what religion is about; the reason many consider themselves culturally Jewish who don't literally believe any of the scriptures is an example.

    Liberalism - in the best sense of the term - has been in diaspora in our nation for several decades - long enough that our myths and rituals have drifted apart, and many of us have assimilated, stopped being proudly liberal. FDR, if you listen to his old radio addresses, was mythic - Reagan learned everything about political voicing from him. Dean has a bit of that; and Kerry, in the convention's portrayal of the war hero, began to get that going before the Swift Boat sodomists reamed his image.

    But myths are not the same as heros, never mind Joseph Cambell. And that's why myths like Vermont, or like the former myth of America you write so well on, are larger even than the heros within them, and being so lend heroism and bravery and meaning to normal people living within them - not the reflected heroism that depends on leaders, but the original heroism where one recognizes that ones own affection for the myth, and for the reality in which it stands, is a wellspring for action - an inspiration in the full sense of being a source of ones spirit, the way ones place and ones tribe lives through you.

    The myth of resistance: We're all Jews now and the Bushies are after us. Our dreams of a world where truth and beauty and mutual support prevail over liars and exploitation - where beauty is not just decoration for the second homes of the richest, but the necessary landscape for all, where it's not "elitist" to preserve nature from the ravages of industry; where truth isn't just any lie that can be fit to the incoherent jumble of the Bible, but instead is what can stand the tests of both science and direct mindfulness; and where the economists in the business schools finally realize that the surest and best road to personal riches is the road that most enriches others.... We all know these dreams but MSM works hard to mock them, in strong contrast to the films and novels and news reports of the 30s, 40s, 50s, back when we were still a hopeful, and sometimes astonishingly generous and just, tribe (despite all the underlying corruption, compromise, prejudice ...).

    Which brings us to the 60s, to the time when the American myth and tribe split over the future: One large portion of youth wanted to go there; a larger portion of the elders wanted to retreat. So now - in contrast to Canada and much of Europe and Asia - we're in retreat from the future, and finding as we re-enter the past that its foundations have cracked and sagged and warped and twisted to the point where it can no longer be set true.

    This is as much the case, unfortunately, of the New Deal as of the Roaring 90s where the Bushies would like to live as Barons, by all means including robbery. So what we are left with is like a myth of a myth, and our faith must be more abstractly in the hope that an empowering myth will come again, dressed not in the autumnal colors of the toddering New Deal, but in the fresh array of spring.

    Of course, we can help it along, carry it forward, even be pregnant with it. But we have not yet seen its face. The meta-myth of America is that myths the size of America - of that myth that was strong enough to vanquish slavery and nazism and build the New Deal - myths the size of the fallen America can and will arise again, if we lend them our imagination and our will.

    It's pretty obvious around here plenty of us are ready to do that.

  •  Thank you, very finely said... (4.00)
    You describe a lot of what I've been feeling myself.  Although I think it was less of a shock to me in some ways.

    My family and friends are my oasis.  The world is crazy, always has been, but love sustains us and is what gives meaning to life.  Politics will never do that, and if you try to find fulfillment in political life, you will crash and burn at some point.  Politics is work that needs doing, but it's not food for the soul.

    I'll join the 'have that baby' crowd!  We need more like you.  I have two children, one is less than a year old, the other was six months old when I was nursing him and heard someone break into the music on NPR to report that 'a small plane seems to have crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers...'

    Being a good mother is about love, consistency and guidance, not politics, not the government you live under. One of the great benefits of having my children is they have no clue about politics.  Their lives revolve around people, exploration, learning, food, fun, and love.  I will be in a funk at breakfast, and my three year old sun (heh, that was a freudian typo, that I'll leave!) will look out at the gloomy grey day with a hint of sleet and say brightly, 'it's a nice day, isn't it?'

    My parents had me and my sister in the late sixties and early 70s, when the country was terribly split, riots were burning cities, great leaders were being assassinated, groupthink of various kinds was raging, and the Vietnam war was at its worst, including the draft.  They have often told us that we are the best part of their lives.

    Children are not that fragile.  And despite the sleep deprivation, they refresh you with their energy and enthusiam and the incredible love they inspire and return, remind you of life and the beauty of the world, get you out on the grass in the sun, or pausing on the way out the door to listen to the snow fall.  

    Short of living in an actual war zone, I find it hard to imagine a situation that would make me regret having children.  What is going on in this country breaks my heart, horrifies me, but my children get up in the morning and they know none of that.  They find a peaceful secure fascinating world and a loving family, and they start making the most of it.  And that makes me stop staring at the computer or brooding over the news and pulls me back to life again.

  •  Tears, thanks (4.00)
    I have read you post and all of the comments... thanks for sharing your story with us.

    I agree with the comments about going ahead and having that baby.  You should be a mother, and will do a fine job.

    Kos is the only place I can come and find acceptance for my post election feelings.  My husband is sure this is a tough country and can survive four more years of Bush.  My grown son, bless him, voted for Bush as did two of my brothers and my son-in-law.  I haven't talked to my best friend since the election.  I don't watch the news any more.  I feel lost and hurt and angry and scared.  

    Lots of mindless stuff on TV, constantly reminding myself of my blessings.  Which do include my son, in spite of his vote.  My beautiful grandchildren.  

    Christmas is usually a joyful time around my house, and probably will be again this year.  Slowly, I'm going through the stages of grief.  

    And that is why I am grateful for this contribution to Kos and the following discussion.  We need to own our feelings first, before we can move on.  And you articulated them beautifully.  Again, thank you.


  •  178th comment (4.00)
    Like most of the people here, I found this diary tremendously moving.  It speaks for my background & a lot of my feelings. And my heart hummed right along with most all the comments.

    Finally, however, I began to feel a little uncomfortable.  Maybe my empathetic response-gland got plumb tuckered out. Whatever the reason, one troublesome thought kept cropping up.  So, though my first instinct was just to rate the posts that moved me most as I read and go on to another diary, I've come back to articulate it.

    First things first: I don't think the recounts will overturn the election results as some do. I agree they must all be investigated, fraud exposed as much as possible, procedures put in place to eliminate them-- as much as possible. All that sensible stuff.

    That said, here's my main point: this election was stolen.  Systematic fraud and criminal conniving of many many different kinds were used, all along the way, in every state of the union. Whether you use the example of the richly funded SwiftBoatVets venture, or Sproul's registration-burning activities in every battleground state, or "misplaced" ballots, or emachine irregularities or any of the other subversive activities invented and funded by the GOP, this was primarily a supremely unfair, unrepresentative election.

    Tricks, lies, fraud, intimidation, fear, big money-- that's what triumphed. And they're getting away with it. Again.

    We knew all along that they were prepared to steal what they couldn't buy or get by bullying.  We fought to keep them from succeeding. Did it work? Deep in my gut (yes, GWB's not the only one who's got one) I know it did.  It really did.  

    Sure, some people were fooled. Others, complicit.  But by and large, this election was stolen.  And now, the forces of corporatism, the media, the state and religious fanaticism are parading around trying to convince us that they are the most popular-- as well as the most powerful-- game around.

    On some level, most of us know that.  Though we don't know exactly what to do about it yet-- how to fight, and protect ourselves. So, grief, fear, self-doubt and rage are the order of the day.

    I feel so many of the same things you do, Steph. But, part of our task, our obligation, is to remain lucid-- at all costs-- despite all inducements to the contrary.

    I guess all I'm saying is, there's a lot to grieve about, and grieve we must, as long as we don't cry ourselves to sleep.

    Lots of love, Tulip

  •  Dear Stephanie (4.00)
    As you know, I've been a diehard fan of yours for a while. And once again, I'm touched by your willingness to open yourself up and respond thoughtfully even to people who declare that they don't like your diary. I wish we could all be as generous of spirit.

    I believe that with the existence of such heavy media manipulation and large-scale fraud throughout the election, it's literally impossible to tell what the people of this country actually think. When there are tens of thousands of reports of election irregularities, suggesting the presence of many more, fraud can hardly be brushed away as a mental crutch for those unwilling to accept a Bush victory. And multiple-choice exit polls ("values"? "terrorism"?) cannot tell us why the people who actually voted for Bush did so. So the primary nightmare I'm wrestling with is not that the overwhelming mass of people of this country don't believe what I believe (which, of course, is true to some extent), but that they've been separated from the right to hear the truth, make their choices based on that truth, and have their votes counted.

    I probably will never "beget" or adopt any children, but I know that there are people who believe that being a foster or adoptive parent for a living child is a choice for those who are or feel unable to bring a new one into the world. But whether you choose to bear, foster, adopt, mentor, or simply smile at children, I know you will make their lives better.

    Anyway, Stephanie, keep on shining!

    Looking for dKos fun in Boston?

    by AlanF on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 01:02:56 PM PST

  •  I remember (4.00)
    how irked you were with me for arguing the reverse of the "Americanist Heresy" like Coriander, back before the elections. No matter how much it hurts,  I can say, as someone who had to accept years ago that all the people I thought were the Good Guys, weren't, is - it really is better to be free of illusions, because then you can know that what ever you have that is good, is positive and affirming, is solid.

    In a theological battle last year I came up with the expression "hothouse faith" to describe that of the fundamentalists I was arguing with - a faith that has to be protected from challenging theories and data (in this case, scripture study and evolution) isn't much use in the end. We need a faith (general not specific meaning) that is "hardened off" like growing plants that can survive on their own outside in harsh weather instead.

    The fact that only half the people in the country voted for Bush is actually more of a surprise to me, in the long haul, than anything else: I had allowed myself to hope that we outnumbered the greedy, complacent and fearful, towards the end, with all the evident enthusiasm and the reserve and lack of mass displays among the Rs, but as far as the Middle America I grew up in, the ordinary blue-collar public high school and the mainstream liberal Christian college where I was the only student in '90 in a class of thirty to argue against torture, and no one of the middle class who I knew believed that they could ever be poor, or that poor people didn't deserve it by being lazy - the fact that so many rejected the seduction of the Dark Side and are so informed/vocal against the complacency and exploitation of fellow humans here and around the world, these days, despite the passive media - this is reason to hope, not to despair, for me.

    But as far as having children, that is such a momentous responsibility that only you can, or have the right (as we talked about on my post) to make that decision, and no one else should guilt you into it or out of it. I cannot think of anything more horrible than trying to parent in wartime or other disaster, and the very real risk not only of losing your child, but also of coming to hate your child as a burden on you. This happens. People get broken inside as conflicting survival imperatives wreak havoc. It gets whitewashed out of the iconic stories, but it happened in my own family back in the Depression, reading between the lines.

    If you are ready, can afford it and don't forsee not being able to in the forseeable future, then there's the positive aspect that the world has always been ending, somewhere, for somebody, and yet people have always pulled through so far. This is i grant not very encouraging. But being a pessimist, I tend to take worst-case scenarios as most likely, and then work up from there: any little's a gain, if you look at it that way!

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 01:13:14 PM PST

  •  Wow (4.00)
    Everything I could say has already been said here far better than I could say it.

    I will just add that I have been feeling all of the same things written in that diary - a sense that I awoke one morning to find that the country which I grew up in and admired and believed in suddenly no longer existed.  I find myself enraged at the people who took it away from me, who sabotaged the Great Experiment out of their own sorry greed for power and money.

    People like a man who I work with who once worked as an artist for the Moral Majority and Jerry Falwell (who he later sued for not paying him, but quixotically still seems to admire).  He seems to see it as his mission in life to make a mockery of everything liberal and progressive, turning everything decent into a grotesque charicature of itself.  This bastard who is so quick to judge others and yet sees nothing whatsoever hypocritical in calling himself a good Christian and supporting a party so hellbent on using Christianity merely as a tool for furthering its own ambition.

    People like the countless gay people I know who STILL voted for Bush - or just didn't vote at all - even after all the things he has done.  These people are traitors to themselves and to the rest of us who believe, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for men of good conscience to do nothing."  They are responsible for the elimination of my rights and I will never be able to consider any of them a friend of mine.

    People like all those in Ohio and other places who stayed home because voting Bush out of office wasn't important enough for them to be willing to stand out in the rain for an hour or so.  God damn them for their laziness.

    People like the guy I met at a local coffeeshop who has a gay brother but voted for Bush anyway, and seems to think the Republicans don't have anything against gay rights.  How could he be so fucking ignorant?  Even when informed, he seemed not to care.  How could any rational human accept the oppression of any other, without being thoroughly sickened and enraged by it?

    People like the idiots within our own party who seem to think that the way to beat them is to become more like them.

    All those responsible for the destruction of my country are my enemy, these people far more so than any terrorist, for they are responsible for its rotting from the inside out, destroying the very foundation of freedom where the terrorists could only hurl mud clods at the ramparts and annoy its keepers.  I curse every day that I wake up and these people haven't yet died off or left to form their beloved theocracy somewhere else.  They are the enemies of everything I believe in.

  •  Get this to John Kerry (none)
    Is there anyone here who can get these comments to John Kerry? He needs to be aware of the depth and poignancy of the feelings expressd here.

    I think it would help him to read it, and it might spur some activity we can't yet imagine.

    This race is about restoring trust...that the things we talk about in a campaign are not promises to be broken, they are promises to be kept. - John Kerry 2004

    by etherapy on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 03:52:26 PM PST

  •  This is the best diary (none)
    I have ever read.
  •  Your sentiments heavily resonate with me. (none)

    While mine is a very different story to tell, we seem to have come to value much of the same things as adults - but that was when America was America.

    I hear you when you say:

    A month ago, I said it felt as if someone had died.

    I think it might have been a part of me.

    As the kids now say, "I feel you".

    "I participate therefore I am, I do not participate therefore I am not." Henryk Skolimowski

    by libby on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 06:57:19 PM PST

  •  Hang tough, that hollow will be filled, (4.00)
    in due time.

    There is a very dark hollow core in my heart where faith once was. I don't know who I am without it.

    I feel like a priest who wakes up an atheist. When no one is listening, I ask myself how much of my life have I wasted? I fear the siren's call of a life in which government is simply that distasteful thing that sometimes appears on the evening news.

    "Oh, I never vote," the girl who delivered my mail said to me. I looked at her aghast. Will I look at her, next time, with envy?

    A month ago, I said it felt as if someone had died.

    I think it might have been a part of me.

    So much of what you've written speaks for me as well.  When I first read this diary, I couldn't think of anything I could add; I just recommended it.  But then I realized why the ending seems not quite so dark for me, although I would describe so much else of the substance almost exactly the same way. Here goes -

    It is not our situation and the things that happen to us (and those that we love) that define who we are. It is what we do when confronted with these events. Or, as Robert G. Fox explains Heidegger's concept of "thrownness" (emphasis mine) - I hope this is not too far a reach, but it speaks to me -

    Now we turn to thrownness. This is one of the most evocative of Heidegger's concepts. Wherever we are, at any moment of our lives, with no exception, is where we have been thrown. It is not necessary to figure out who threw us, why we have been thrown, or towards where we are being thrown. We spend an inordinate amount of energy on those three distractions. The key to thrownness is not about that; it is that we are thrown, and that we can attend to our thrownness.

    Our essential possibility, says Heidegger, is in our freedom to choose how to attend to our thrownness...Our being as possibility is shaped by the way we are with our thrownness.

    I cannot emphasize enough the fact that, in our being thrown, we did not nor could not choose the way we were thrown. We did not choose to exist, nor did we choose to exist in this particular body, with this particular family, at this particular time, in this particular place. What we can choose, and this is the crucial responsibility of being human, is how to be with how we were thrown. We are absoilutely innocent in our thrownness, and we are absolutely responsible for how we relate to that thrownness.


    From what I have seen of your posts, you will not let that part of you die, that is good and noble and will work for an important cause and devote loyalty to someone like John Kerry.  You have been thrown, and you will ultimately arise from your thrownness with renewed vigor - I am sure of that.

    As for John Kerry, he will continue to lead, in his own way and his own space, and we may or may not need or be able to be part of that.  But these times will also demand a new leader - another 27-ish soldier returning from battle, to ask the question in a way that will be heard by all, "Where ARE the leaders of our country?" and to proclaim that yearning to see America turn and to know that they helped it in the turning.

    It will come, and that hollow in your heart will be filled.

    Whatever you do will seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it. - Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by blue secession on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 07:30:20 PM PST

  •  I'm in tears... (4.00)
    I can imagine that so many of us have feelings like yours but could not put them down so poignantly as you...

    I haven't spoken to my brother since the election... a man who doesn't read the news and hides his wife's gay brother from their children... who thinks as long as his life is going okay that there is no need to change the status need to stand up for anything... he lives in Kentucky, goes to church and voted for bush because of moral values...

    I tend to want to send him stories like yours but I know he would not read the first line and it would push us further away... there were no angry words between us - just that neither of us have picked up the phone to call the other since the election... I'm still not ready...  I will try again in another month...but I'm so glad you can still talk to your father...

    And I thank you for being so candid

    You can safely assume that you've created God in your own image when it turns out God hates all the same people you do... Anne Lamott

    by crkrjx on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 08:48:56 PM PST

  •  Questions (none)
    Let me simplify things for you:

    Do you believe that the way to grow the economy is to increase spending and cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans?

    Do you believe the war in Iraq, without the existence of WMDs, was part of the war on Terrorism?

    Do you believe that stopping a fertilized egg from becoming a baby is murder?

    Do you believe gay people are inherently evil and ineligible for rights as a couple?

    Do you believe you have a Constitutional right to an automatic, assault weapon?

    Do you believe Social Security should be privatized?

    Do you believe Affirmative Action is wrong?

    Do you believe God needs a stronger presence in the public sphere, including schools?


    If you answered "yes" to most of these questions, you're a Republican.

    If you answered "no" to most of these questions, you're a Democrat.

    Caution! These are shark-infested waters!

    by Jonathan4Dean on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 09:36:15 PM PST

  •  Oh my dear... (4.00)
    ... it was always this way.  For every step forward there have always been those who fought it tooth and nail.  In fact, each step forward was won because someone was fighting tooth and nail.  

    The world of your childhood was not one that I shared -- but one that always seemed just slightly out of reach.  It was, however, a world that I could imagine.  I know now that this itself -- the imagining -- is a powerful thing.  You can only create something that you can imagine.  What you have learned -- and I have relearned -- is that the imagination of others can also create our world.  Even when their imagination is lacking.

    But I did share your belief that the hardest work had already been done.  We have just been hit over the head with the realization that the hardest work is never done.  As a society, we let complacency take the place of vigilance.  As an individual I, too, let complacency take the place of vigilance.  Not now.  Not ever again.

    The New Deal did not inspire everyone.  There are those who fought it from the beginning and who never gave up on the idea of its destruction.  There is something we can learn even from them.  And that is to take both the long view and the next step.  Without you, and me, and everyone who believes in those ideals doing our part they are just ideals.  It is up to us to give them life.

    There is no giving up happening today.

    The chips are down. Find your outrage.

    by sj on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 09:51:18 PM PST

  •  Dude: Join the Greens (none)


    by NorCalJim on Sat Dec 04, 2004 at 10:32:34 PM PST

  •  Wonderful, Sensitive Story and Declaration. (none)
    I certainly have a sensitive side. I was profoundly moved by this diary. But I am coming to realize more and more that I am largely a hard-headed scrapper. So I'll stomp on their shiny shoes when they try to herd me into The Big Boat to Camp X-Ray.
  •  Thank You . . . (none)
    Beautifully written . . . and I think what many are feeling/felt.  I am still in shock and still live with the fantasy that one of these days before the electors meet I will turn on CNN or MSNBC and will be met with a miracle and somehow John Kerry will be be sworn in in Jan.  I fear and grieve for this country . . . and will never "GET OVER IT".

    One writes of scars healed but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pinprick but wounds still.  - Hemingway

  •  I nominate this for best post-election diary... (none)
    by far.  Reflective, honest, beautifully written, comprehensive, you simply NAILED it here, "Stephdray."  Only one "criticism" -- everything you express here is so true, so sadly and brutally true, that you may leave the rest of us with nothing more to say. :(

    P.S. On second thought, I doubt we need to worry about that happening around this place! :)

    "Despite all your rage, you're still just a rat in a cage."

    by lowkell on Sun Dec 05, 2004 at 03:33:05 AM PST

  •  My guilt (none)
    I don't know if you had it in mind when you wrote this wonderful diary, but you've made me feel my guilt very deeply.

    I feel guilty because I didn't contribute more to the Kerry campaign.

    I feel guilty because I didn't volunteer to work for the Democratic party, or the Kerry campaign.

    I feel guilty because I didn't try harder to convince my friends who I knew would be voting for Bush to see the light.

    But I'm going to feel even more guilty if my country loses its perspective about democracy and lets this travesty of an election happen AGAIN in 2006.  

    Thanks for your effort to get your feelings down on electronic paper, so that we all could share them.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive! Sir Walter Scott.

    by tomathawl on Sun Dec 05, 2004 at 05:58:31 AM PST

  •  the sweet, numbing creep of apathy... (none)
    I'd been ignoring this diary, because of perhaps, as ascendant so poinantly said, "the sweet,numbing creep of apathy."

    I'm glad I decided to read it even though it does feed my depression over all this.

    The key graphs for me were:

    This election was different than any other in my lifetime. This was not an election about ideas for American policy. It was about the idea of America herself. I was sure, election day was going to be the best day of my life, that I would end up on my knees thanking God for confirming my faith in my nation.

    Instead, I ended up on my knees in tears, with a mouthful of ashes. Now I feel like a stranger in a strange land.

    I simply could not believe that a country that would elect Bill Clinton twice, just 12 and 8 years ago, could re-elect this moron...this disaster of a president.  Like stephdray, I had faith in this country, in my case, I had faith that the majority of this country was firmly moderate to liberal, this republican administration represented the far right wing, something I never thought I would see again.  Surely, surely, I thought, they won't be re-elected.

    stephdray, please don't give up on life or children.  My mother often spoke of being in labor with my oldest sister during world war II.
    She wondered if she should be bringing a child into the world.  I'm sure that she didn't regret bringing, not just one, but eventually four, children into the world.

    My 12 and 15 year old kids motivate me, more than anything else to continue fighting.
    I feel like I must distance myself from this
    some, as my worry over it all has impacted my ability to contribute income to our family, and it has impacted my overall mood.

    But I will not completely disengage, I'll just set limits for myself (and already have), so I'll have more balance in my life.

    I will remain interested enough so I'll be prepared to fight when needed.

Wanderer, pontificator, Roastbeef, Leslie in CA, justinb, Malacandra, teece, Mike S, wozzle, Wandering One, Thalia, ChicagoDem, Jett, paradox, RobertInWisconsin, JWC, Right Thinking American, scott, MattK D1, stevelu, DavidW in SF, Mark H, zane, coral, Sean Robertson, Irfo, Pluto101, Jonathan, cassandra m, lapin, captainebo, murphy, Fran for Dean, drduck, lux, Timaeus, Trendar, glitterscale, AlanF, Margot, wph, cresmer, npb7768, musing85, tlaura, jeebie, Gooserock, freedom fried, pHunbalanced, pq, Unstable Isotope, sarac, saraswati, ScientistMom in NY, MikeCapone, mattman, janinsanfran, juls, lumpy gravy, Susan Gardner, wytcld, Winger, ArkansasJoseph, braincase, nhselectwoman, Avila, sjct, Emerson, furiousxgeorge, tommurphy, furryjester, bliss149, rincewind, Liberal Warrior, Sazerac, kolors, Del C, Cathy, JamesC, Jim W, kutunel, LtScheisskopf, tamens, LynnS, martianchronic, Marx Marvelous, Mnemosyne, kenlac, tryptamine, ignatz, movie buff, geekynerd, treetop57, kdub, ashke, d3n4l1, elial, lawnorder, Muboshgu, Carnacki, Newsie8200, object16, Flora, twistandshout, timerigger, DrSpike, bumblebums, mataliandy, givmeliberty, jancw, stay at home dad, FirePombo, nanoboy, GaryKYF, momsquared, LIsoundview, Joey Dee, Ruth in OR, pdx bertrand, Heywood Jablowme, AuntiePeachy, abbysomething, HansNYC, roxtar, Eternal Hope, Scott in NAZ, fabooj, catnip, eyeswideopen, vinifera, jpschmid, BartBoris, Makeda, Big Bill Heywood, beffistador, Cho, EvieCZ, ReneInOregon, Slacker Gal, punkdog, TracieLynn, silas216, benhiller, macdust, chi mai, brooklynben, dlender, BlogginBob, starkness, josemonkey, ex republican, AnjaliCat, Aguas de Marco, LA Dem, lunacat, fishhead, orbitguy, mbell, KansasBlueNP, katya2032, michelina, peeder, Clues, marylrgn, larryrant, AdamH, k2winters, MJB, poe, ethans mom, Shaniriver, Major Tom, replicant23, erquirk, Buffmom, ctsteve, arkdem, ragnark, Neogaidaros, Denver, hopesprings, Sirocco, AlphaGeek, aquifer, hopewell, rcvanoz, jakyra, blue secession, jlynne, canberra boy, Andy in HoustonTX, creve coeur, dove, brainwave, mad ramblings of a sane woman, YellowDogBlue, SeattleLiberal, Mad Dog Rackham, wont get fooled again, KPlayer, pdl ithaca, purplebutterfly, Black Maned Pensator, Oy the Billybumbler, chantedor, Chirons apprentice, luisalberto, antoinette from NYC, KCinNY, dnn, Illegitimi non carborundum, Ascendent

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