I've been mulling over the results of the recent elections and trying to figure out what, if anything, to write about it. Then I got an email from Lizzie, which I've excerpted below. My sentiments exactly, Goodfriend.
I took off yesterday from work--partly because I wasn't feeling well, physically, but also because I wasn't feeling anything at all, emotionally. The results of Tuesday's elections left me floating so far adrift in sea of dullness, disbelief, and disconnect that I couldn't bear the thought of interacting with the outside world. I had sat glued to the television set until 2a.m. Tuesday night, watching with horror as my country made the most unnerving collective political mistake of the past century (a statement I make with confidence that it's true). I went to bed heartsick and shell-shocked, unable to emerge from the haze of alienated confusion until I finally made it to work this morning.
Once at work, I reconnected with the media. I read the news; I started seeing the pictures; I began hearing the headlines, and the reality of November 2nd's democratic decision finally struck me. I was crushed by a wave of anger so heavy that for a second I literally couldn't breathe. I was so livid that tears welled in the corners of my eyes. And now I sit here at my desk, writing this, and I am seething. I am furious. Enraged.
What's worse, I feel myself in mourning. It's not so much a pre-emptive mourning for the havoc that's no doubt to come (though there's some of that too), as it is a mourning for the country I had thought existed, but apparently does not. There have been numerous times in my life when I have defended America to foreigners and fellow Americans alike. I've rejected the mindset that America's population is primarily composed of bible-thumping, gun-toting, self-centered over-eaters. I've argued for a faith in the time-honored American characteristics of creative innovation, exuberant idealism, and human respect. I've admired what seemed to me an inspired rejection of tradition-imposed limits and I'vevalued my freedom of movement, thought, and speech. I've defended against accusations of economic corpulence and moral misguidance, pointing out that the government does not equal the people and that the sum of political values is not always equal to the sum of cultural beliefs. Today I am disillusioned.
I am disillusioned because, by all accounts, the presidential race was not won based on voter opinions concerning divergent political policies. I could have handled that, disappointed though I would have been. Instead, the G.O.P. galvanized an army of "value voters," and made this a race about morality. In a country founded on the principle that the separation of church and state is necessary for a functioning democracy, we've re-elected a president whose political rhetoric is so infused with religious ideology that it's hard to tell if America remains a secular state. Bush's administration is trying to alter the constitution with amendments motivated by religious fervor. He has professed that this absurd war on terror will be won because of, and if for no other reason than, the fact (?) that God is on our side. Who's god? Which side?