First, let me say, I am sad. I am sure you know why. It appears Bush has won. Ohio is leaning right. But there is still the smallest glimmer of hope and I plan to cling to that for a while. As Ann at Annatopia suggests, it’s not over just yet. Her last post last night was this:
jeebus h christ, it’s 2000 all over again. bush is leading in ohio by 120K right now w/96% in (and that lead keeps shrinking). there are a quarter million provisional ballots to be counted, which will take up to 11 days. bush is leading by 350K in florida, and there are over a million absentee ballots which need to be counted. the networks obviously didn’t learn anything from the 2000 election. fuck faux (duh) and fuck nbc. i’m going to bed. i just can’t stomach the idea of another legal fight. i don’t know if america can survive that.
While I think it is a long shot that Florida will swing to Kerry, I also thought it was a long shot for Florida to swing to Bush in 2000.
More importantly though, is the her last line. I don’t know if American can survive either. We are getting frighteningly divided. More than the possibility of the Bush camp taking away my right to choice or bringing religion into politics in the form of prayer in schools and adding a definition of marriage to the constitution, I am afraid our division will break us.
I have allowed myself in the last few weeks to become more polarized. I have slowly shifted toward being more and more liberal. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but I consider myself an independent because I have always seen things from both sides of the aisle. I have also liked things from both sides of the aisle. But I have let my disdain for one man and his views to push me farther from my center.
As my boyfriend calls me a Democrat, I declare myself an independent, and until recently I could say that without a doubt. But in the last few weeks, I have begun to wonder if I was loosing sight of what I believe in. I am a social liberal. Always will be. But I am also fiscally conservative. I have let myself forget that in order to fight Bush. I have let myself think I could be OK with higher taxes if it wound up being for the greater good. And perhaps I would, but I am not sure tax hikes would be for the greater good. I even convinced myself that I could believe Kerry when he said he wouldn’t raise taxes on the middle class. I wanted to believe. I so wanted to. But I am not sure that is true. It certainly doesn’t follow history. I wanted to believe him and still do to some extent when he said his ideas were good for small business. That we (small businesses) would receive tax cuts. But I fear that my small business is not in the brackets that would be helped. I think we may be too big. My understanding is that the small businesses that would be helped are truly small. Five to Ten employees, home offices, guest-bedroom businesses. I would like to believe that he would be able to help us but I just don’t know.
So I have come to the conclusion that while I am disgusted by the direction this country is taking, and scared of the polarization of a nation built to be a melting pot, I cannot be part of the problem. It is not what I believe in. I believe each side has something good to offer.
At this point, I am turning over a new leaf and if Bush wins, I will allow him a second chance. I will never agree with his stance on social issues, but I will allow him his peace on fiscal ones. I will listen open mindedly to what he has to say. I will try to understand where he is coming from and I will try to find things I like about his politics. If I cannot do this, then I have failed myself as an independent. I am proud to be able to find the good in people and I cannot let that slip away. I will need to reassure myself often however, that open mindedness is the best option. Without it we are doomed. If we allow ourselves to only see the bad, we enter a downward spiral of hate, and anger than is not healthy for our own bodies or country. We must stand together. We must fight together not against one another. We are all American and while we differ on many issues, there must be some we can come together on. We need to stop hating political stances simply because of who puts them forth and look at the issues for what they are. We all know Bush made mistakes in Iraq, but we are there now, and we need to find a way out. We need to finish this, and at this point, rehashing history will not bring that about. We need to stand together in our fight from this point forward. Our anger about what has already happened will not change what could happen. We need to channel our anger into positive energy and work together to create real solutions. Not battle over the past.
My plea to you is to make an effort to see the other side. You do not have to agree with it, but make the effort to understand it before you disagree. This is the most crucial task we have in the next four years, and it may be the only thing that saves us from civil war. We must open our minds to other perspectives, regardless of our feelings about the politicians involved. Our hatred will do nothing to help us progress. Positive activism and genuine debate without personal attacks is what we need now. For many of us, this could prove quite difficult, but we need to try. We have to try.
As a note to my Democrat and anti-Bush friends, I am not saying bow down to Bush. I am simply suggesting we don’t allow ourselves to be the cause of a national split. We need to stand up for what we believe in but we do not need to stoop low to do it. We can fight for our rights and beliefs civilly and we can win. But we need to take the high road.