I’d like to ask everyone who’s upset over Bush winning re-election to pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and just try to relax. For the past 24 hours or so far too many Liberals have been running around as though hot nuclear death were raining down from the sky and they only had minutes remaining to be someplace else very far away. More than a few people have emphatically stated their intentions to move to another country and I’m sure more than a few of you are deadly serious about it. Quite a few others are wasting energy on being angry, depressed, worried, bitter, melancholy, or what have you and often times more than one of those emotions at once. In short, a lot of us are being not just reactionary, but over-reactionary to this development. Yes, I think a lot of us are overreacting and not thinking this through with a clear head like we should be.
For starters, nothing has really changed yet. America didn’t suddenly become a theocracy when Kerry called Bush and conceded. None of Bush’s goals in his agenda suddenly became a foregone conclusion with his reelection. The Bill of Rights wasn’t set alight and outlawed the moment Bush gave his victory speech. But you might think all of those things had happened if you were to judge us simply by how we’ve reacted. The truth is America still has a long way to go before our worst fears become reality and the worst thing we could do that would help ensure those fears come to pass is to throw our hands up in frustration or flee like scared rabbits.
Let’s address the option some folks are considering of moving out of the country. Canada seems to be a popular choice for a lot of folks who are seriously considering leaving mainly due to its more left-leaning government and populace. Canada is certainly willing to take you on, but you’ll have to get in line with everyone else who’s trying to move there from other countries. Word has it that legal immigration to Canada can take upwards of a year and then it’s another three years before you can become a full citizen. You could move in ahead of schedule if you manage to land a job there first and that’ll require a work permit, which is still a good four to six months in the future if you apply today. As long as you’re waiting you may as well ask yourself a few questions starting with, ‘Do I really think this means I’m leaving the problems in America behind?’ Consider that for a moment: For better or worse, America is the most powerful nation on the planet. If we were all to give up and abandon ship leaving the country to the right-wingers to do with as they please, how long do you think it would be before you once again started to feel the impact of that decision? If the Dominionists succeed in their goal of reshaping America into a true “Christian Nation” as they envision it, do you really think they’re going to be happy with that and leave the rest of the world alone? We’ve already read about how their goal is, quite literally, world domination. Imagine an America reshaped and run by these people. Do you honestly think you’d be safe anywhere on the planet with them in control back here?
For those of you who are busy panicking over this development you should be asking yourself, ‘How does this help the situation?’ The short answer is: It doesn’t. At best it’s a waste of energy and at worst it confirms everything the opposition believes is true about us. It also tends to feed on itself as it’s difficult to think clearly when you’re busy overreacting and we end up falling back on some of the very tendencies we take Conservatives to task for such as black and white thinking. Caught up in our own emotions we resort to knee-jerk reactions and lose sight of some very important facts.
For example, take a look at this USA Today map that breaks down how each county in each state voted into either Red of Blue. If you’re a Liberal then you probably find the sight of that map a bit depressing, but does it really say anything other than a particular county was won by one side or the other? No, it’s a simple binary depiction that gives you no indication how close the race in any particular county might have been and if you do some searching you’ll probably find that the race in many areas was very close.
Consider Oakland County, Michigan where Kerry got 319,607 votes and Bush got 316,567 making for a 50% to 49% win for Kerry with a mere 3040 votes difference. Now contrast that with Alpena County, Michigan where Bush scored 7,665 votes to Kerry’s 7,406 making for another 50% to 49% win for the other side with only 259 votes separating them. More importantly take a look at Michigan as a whole in that CNN county-by-county breakdown that colors the counties based on how strongly they allied with one side or the other. By my count there were at least 16 counties that were so close as to not show a hint of either red or blue and there were only a handful of counties that could be considered to be strongly on one side or the other. Looking at the other states you’ll find a couple that were mostly blue-tinted such as Massachusetts and a couple that were mostly red-tinted such as Oklahoma, but in a lot of them you’ll find that there’s an awful lot of white counties where it could easily have gone either way and even more counties where support one way or the other was just barely enough to give the state any tint at all. If we were to apply this graduated concept to a map of how the states voted you might end up with a map like this one over at BoingBoing.net which has an awful lot of purple on it.
That’s the effect of those moderates we keep forgetting about that make up a good portion of the population. People like ***Dave who tend to lean liberal, but still has some consevative aspects to his nature as well. I think ***Dave is a good representative of the moderate viewpoint in part because of his entries dealing with his struggle to decide which candidate he was going to vote for. I take comfort in the fact that when I look at those maps that provide a graduated scale showing how strong one county or another happened to be for either side that the majority of them could be open to persuasion and a well reasoned argument to go the other way next time.
It’s important in times like this that we are level-headed enough to look for what the reality is as opposed to what we fear it might be. Just as the majority of Christians aren’t far-right Fundamentalist assholes, not everyone who voted for Bush is a die-hard Conservative who is beyond all reasoning with. It’s easy to forget this because we generally tend to get into arguments with the folks who ARE those things as opposed to the moderates. It’s also important to remember that we argue with them not because we foolishly think we’ll change their minds, but because we’re hoping our reasoning will resonate with the folks who are open to considering other viewpoints. If we just throw up our hands in frustration and feel sorry for ourselves, though, then we will end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can sit around and pout and point fingers at what age groups we had pinned our hopes on that didn’t show up or how 51% of the nation must be clueless morons or any of a dozen other excuses we can dream up. Or we can take a deep breath, take a critically honest look at ourselves, our message, and our situation and then move forward determined not to let this setback crush our spirits. The only constant is change and even the darkest days eventually give way to better times.