Sunday, November 14, 2004

Good Morning, Heartache

By Max Gordon
November 11, 2004

There is an eerie quiet here in New York City, and a feeling of genuine heartbreak. Amongst my friends, it’s as if someone we all loved is dead.

I’ve never felt like this before about a national incident – the pain is almost physical. Having no idea what the next four years will look like, let alone next week, I’m stunned; past outrage, past crying, past bitterness. This grief is all–consuming and profound.

I’m not sure what hurts most: that a majority voted for George W Bush after everything we know about his administration; that all over the country voters still complained about intimidation; that electronic–voting machines gave no receipts eliminating any way of proving fraud; that the chief executive of Diebold, creators of the electronic–voting machines in Ohio, told Republicans in a fundraising letter that he was “committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President”; that (similar to Katharine Harris in Florida in 2000), the Ohio secretary of state was also co–chairman of the Bush re–election campaign; that (again like 2000), Florida continued illegally to drop voters from the rolls; that Kerry conceded within less than twenty–four hours of saying that he would fight for every vote; that Karl Rove’s political ruthlessness – his attacks on Kerry’s Vietnam record, his divisive use of a constitutional ban on gay marriage, and the diabolical implication that a vote for Kerry was a vote for terrorists – once again played on voters’ deepest prejudices and fears. Or that it all worked.

There is a pathological presence in America that no longer hides in the shadows or threatens to take over. It has consumed the country. Our democracy is on life–support.

The only hope that carries me is the belief that there exists a truth greater than politicians, elections, or the policies of any administration. I am concentrating on the civil disobedience and moral courage of Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Emmeline Pankhurst, Harriet Tubman, Fanny Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Jr. In the upcoming years, this country may play out the most extraordinary human drama that we have ever seen in civil rights and activism. There is also the chilling possibility that the streets will be empty, as everyone closes their doors and, silenced by the threat of the Patriot Act or worse, refuses to speak out for four more years. This election has smashed something permanently in the American heart – I can definitely speak as far as one heart is concerned.

We will either be crushed by this experience, or we will rise up from it with great strength and find a power we never had. Yes, this may be the very definite, tragic end of something we all believed in, but it may also be the beginning of a miraculous, yet undefined, something else.

I’m counting on it.

© Max Gordon

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