All Is Not Lost
November 13, 2004
By Steve Ayers
cloud has silver lining. Grey skies are going to clear up. Maybe
not for another four years, but they'll clear nonetheless. Sure
we lost the election to the heartland who apparently are more appalled
by boys kissing than by the unnecessary death of our children, the
raping of the environment, or the ever-ballooning deficit. But despite
this mind-boggling, unexplainable loss, we have gained greatly.
We have gained a base of voters and activists and supporters who
have come to understand that their fears, their morals, their values,
their concerns are just as important and just as worthwhile as those
in the Bible Belt or the deep South. I am a 28 year old from Pennsylvania
who has never voted. If nothing else, this election has forced me
to realize who I am, to realize that I am a Democrat and that undecided
voters in a time like this are just looking for the attention.
I believe that this election has energized the Democratic base.
It has enabled us to take root in our core beliefs and our
core values. Contrary to popular belief, the values of the Republican
party are not the governing values of this entire country. It is
possible for a liberal to hold values and morals, which may not
be the same as the right-wing's, but are nonetheless just as important.
The left is concerned with the economy, the deficit, the young soldiers
who are dying needlessly.
The way the right insists that government stay out of personal
affairs - unless it has to do with your own body or who you want
to marry - is fundamentally contradictory. It makes no sense. If
Republicans believe in downsizing government then that idea must
transcend all aspects of what a government represents. If a government
cannot take away your guns, the same government cannot tell you
who to marry. If Republicans assume their "every man for himself"
mentality, they should assume it to the hilt.
If we are supposed to be smart enough to make our own decisions,
then I would assume granting a woman the right to choose is pretty
safe. It's all or nothing. This pick-and-choose government interaction
only suits the Republican party and their elitist morals and views.
And apparently, as November 2 showed us, these morals and views
represent - at most - 51% of the population.
Through this election, I have read politics and studied world
affairs and policies like never before. I heard MTV and celebrities
telling me to "Rock the Vote" or "Vote or Die"
in the past, but I never gave it much consideration until this year.
See, the reason that politicians harp on issues such as Social
Security, Medicare, and prescription drugs is because the older
segment of America are the ones voting without fail. I called my
grandparents the night before the election to see if they were voting,
and if so, who they were voting for. The phone call opened my eyes
like no voter drive ever could. I asked my Italian grandmother if
she was voting and her response was as if I asked her if she was
making meatballs this Sunday. Of course, she was.
They voted every year, not just every presidential election.
I hadn't even been motivated to vote in a presidential election,
let alone for my township's representative at the school board meetings.
Then, she informed me she was definitely voting for Bush. This
floored me. How could my own family, a lower-middle class family
who struggled most of their life think George W. Bush was the president
for them? When I asked, my grandmother offered up the reason that
John Kerry was a liar. Forget the fact that her current president
lied about the reasons for invading another unprovoked country,
lied about his support for a Department of Homeland Security, lied
about his tax cuts benefiting the lower percentage of people, and
lied that he was a uniter and not a divider.
I then asked what Kerry lied about and she had no good example
to give me. So, this highly illogical motive was behind her vote.
That and the deeply profound reason that Teresa Heinz-Kerry was
"dizzy." So, I told her to put my grandfather on the phone.
Surely, he, an esteemed veteran of WWII, would side with me in the
argument. Surely he would like Kerry based on veteran status alone
and the fact that Bush skirted his way out of fighting thanks to
Daddy and his political connections.
But, guess what? He was the same robot my grandmother was. He even
suggested Kerry earned a Purple Heart from wounds that were self-inflicted.
It was amazing to me that a veteran would speak about a fellow veteran
that way, especially when his other choice was a man who went into
the National Guard to get out of Vietnam and then got out of the
I couldn't believe that my grandparents had succumbed to the litany
of garbage put in their heads by Fox News and the Bush/Cheney attack
ads. I couldn't believe this was my family I was talking to. Then,
it occurred to me. This was the case with thousands of people across
the country. There were thousands of older men and women voting
for George W. Bush because they thought Kerry was a liar, or that
Bush scared them into voting for him, or because they didn't know
they could vote across party lines in the presidential election,
or because George W. Bush is a deeply pious man and they just happen
to watch the Sunday masses on TV every week.
I began to argue and refute every point that my grandparents (who
are both in their 80s) posed to me, until I realized, "what
am I doing?" Sure, I was slicing and dicing and disproving
every misinformed point they had, but to what end? They either weren't
listening or didn't understand me. It did no good. So, I gave up.
They were voting for Bush no matter what. They weren't listening
to reason, they were listening to Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity.
Hanging up the phone that night, I realized that the motivation
of young people, and on a larger scale, the Democratic base, was
drastically important, especially in this day and age. The young
and educated need to take a stand and bring our concerns to the
forefront. The issues that are important to us need to become the
issues of the day and not what the Religious Right and the Republican
party tells us is important. We are the ones who search for unbiased
news and who educate ourselves constantly. My grandparents, God
love them, only hear what they want to hear, and believe me when
I tell you their hearing isn't that good anyway.
The next four years are going to be a challenge for all involved.
I believe that history will prove the current administration to
be one of the most disastrous, secretive, ill-informed, irrational,
and poisonous administrations in our history. I, myself, do not
think George W. Bush will unite this country. I do not think he
will halve the deficit by 2008. I do not think he serves anyone
other than his corporate investors and the Religious Right. I do
not believe that any normal, hardworking person who isn't a millionaire
has a place in George W. Bush's America.
But, you know what? It isn't his America. If this election
taught the Democratic party anything, its that there are more of
us than we thought and in four years, we'll right this country again.
We owe nothing less to ourselves and each other. If nothing else,
this election should have opened the eyes of the left-wing and burned
a fire in our hearts that what we believe is just as important as
what they believe.
I think that over the last four years an untold number of Americans
traversed the same political development I did. When it became scandalously
obvious that Bush was pimping 9/11 for his own personal gain and
struggle, I opened my eyes. I began to see that I did have strong
beliefs and that they weren't cohesive with the current administration.
But, when I began to see so many others felt the same way, it gave
it all a sense of purpose.
That purpose was a great victory for the left. And it is that purpose
that will keep us focused for the next four years, whatever they