Monday, November 24, 2008

how my anger at Republicans got the better of me

Sometimes you know you should keep your mouth shut but don't. Well, I guess some of you know to keep your mouth shut and do, but I'm not one of those. It's something I'm reminded of every time this girl I know glares at me from across the room.

A bit before the election, a facebook friend posted a status report that if McCain won he would leave the country and hang out with his friends talking about how stupid Americans are. Another facebook friend replied to his comment that it was absurd to say people who voted for McCain were stupid. I knew she was voting for him, because her own facebook status had said something like, "I'm voting for McCain, and I'm not stupid or a liar." (I don't know what the liar thing is a reference to.)

Obviously there was no good reason to say anything, but between my paranoia that somehow the Republicans would manage to steal this election like they did the last two and my general fury at those who had kept Republicans in power, I added a comment of my own beneath her comment, which was something like, "Most of the people voting for McCain re-elected Bush, and if someone did that, and after what has happened in the last four years still believes the Republicans somehow deserve to continue to run this country, well, stupid isn't such a stretch." I did not add, even though I wanted to, that saying "I'm not stupid," does not mean you're not stupid. Paris Hilton says it all the time, and then manages to say something utterly moronic within the next two minutes.

She wrote me an angry note and took me off her friends list.

So why do it? Well, partly because I've always been bad at keeping my mouth shut. But mainly because of my rage at Republicans. I mentioned the re-election of Bush for a specific reason; because it is less defensible than a vote for McCain, and I wanted to offer her the opportunity to say, well, I wasn't dumb enough to vote for Bush again after the mess he made, but McCain will be different.

Her not saying that suggested the she probably did vote for Bush in 2004, and as far as I'm concerned, that is a vote for torture, preemptive war (a.k.a. invading foreign countries that have not attacked you) and redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. And I really have an issue with that.

Still, it was impolitic, and unkind, since I think she's a genuinely nice person, though misguided. Had she said after the election that she voted for McCain and the people who didn't were fools I would probably have simply ignored her.

Of course, had I been in her shoes I would simply have made my case. She could have argued that McCain would be different from Bush. Some would say the real problem with Bush was not his politics but his gross incompetence, and that McCain is smarter and more capable than G.W. Or you could simply say that the issues important to you are those McCain supports. While you can argue with their politics, you can't say people who voted for McCain because they were against gay marriage or abortion or because they desired a radical right wing court were stupid. In that case, obviously you would want McCain over Obama.

I would argue that adding a comment on facebook opened her up to replies, impolitic or not. If I added a comment to a right wing facebook status report I would not be surprised if I got some flack for it. That's the danger of chiming in.

This doesn't make me any less undiplomatic, of course, nor does it change the fact that someone who goes to almost every dance I go to hates me. Learning to let stuff sail by without comment is something I aspire to, but it's hard to change a lifetime habit.

Addendum: eventually I and the Republican had a dance class together, and since she seemed perfectly friendly there, the next time I saw her I asked her to dance and she said yes. So everything's as it was, except we're not facebook friends.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

a city explodes in joy

I have never seen anything quite like the streets of New York after Obama won. Union Square was packed full of people cheering and shouting. Lots of college students, so you had the interesting site of dozens of teenage girls screaming as though they were at a Beatles concert. More people were flooding down 14th street towards the park as I walked home, some carrying signs, some playing instruments. Someone would hold up a picture of Obama and everyone would start screaming and cars would blast their horns. People were high fiving each other as they walked past. It was awesome. It is so great to live in a city where the election of a progressive candidate causes people to run through the streets in ecstasy.

This is such an important night. It's been years since I could feel proud of America, but tonight we elected the first black president, and that says something very good about this country. It is suddenly cool again to be an American.

Of course, this joy isn't all about the historical nature of an African American president elect. It is also about an almost indescribable relief. Bush has dug this country into so deep a hole that the fear was McCain would come in and dig us in twice as far. But now after years of incompetence and ideological insanity we are getting a president who we know doesn't love war and cares more about the working class than the corporations. We have a president who is going to help us climb out of that damn hole. The adults are going to be in charge. And that is something to scream about.