Monday, November 08, 2004


New York City ain’t exactly Bush country. And I think we made that obvious on November 2nd when our good ole’ state turned a glorious shade of blue on the map of Electoral Votes. In fact, you would be hard-pressed to find a Republican in most Manhattan neighborhoods and if by chance, you did find one, I’m told that there’s some ritual that you’re supposed to do involving spitting or asking for money—one of those two things. I get mixed up.

I roll with a pretty liberal crowd. Most of my writer friends urged others to vote for Senator John Kerry through their articles, emails, and blogs. I went to a fair share of concerts in which the lead singer would belittle the current President’s intelligence and plead for a change in our descending political direction. Iraq was a horrible mess, they said. Our country is in a state—or rather a bunch of states—of economic dysfunction, they continued. The gay community feared another four years of “intolerance” and oppression. The anxiety in New York’s atmosphere was palpable. Clipboards with people attached to them urged randoms on the street “to help defeat Bush.” Most responded that that was already on their things-to-do list, along with picking up more toilet paper.

And while I was not thrilled about Senator John Kerry as the alternative, I wanted the next four years to be all new episodes of our reality show, not repeats. So, I felt encouraged by the conversations I was having with others. It looked possible that Kerry could win. After all, everyone I knew was all for change (insert fist-pumped-in-the-air here).
Well…actually not everyone. Little did I know that I was living with the enemy.

On a random night in October, in a roomy four bedroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, I did the one thing I will most probably always regret; I discussed politics with my roommates (and had the worst General Tso’s Chicken ever). It turned out that only one-fourth of our apartment was voting for Kerry. Like a political Incredible Hulk, I found myself in the face of opposition, which in turn flexed my political muscles into huge, monstrous guns. Suddenly, I become passionate about politics, which sounds almost as cool as getting stoked about broccoli but truthfully, it felt exhilarating. Little nodules in my brains jumped for joy that I finally cared about my future, about my country’s future. But I grew increasingly aware that I was also splitting my rent with three people that threatened it, as well.

I decided to discuss our differentials (also known as ‘why they were mistaken and I was not’) and commenced with phrasing my questions very carefully. Avoiding any condescension, I was certain not to ask antagonistic questions like how they could vote for Bush. Surely, they knew they were doing something blatantly wrong like kicking little puppies for fun. Which, incidentally, is very, very wrong.

Their answers alternated between Bush’s strengths like foreign policy--which I had assumed was ‘let’s bomb lotsa’ stuff’—to Kerry’s weaknesses like his lack of articulated vision or for that matter, a personality. As much as I wanted to convince them of their wrongness, I felt unprepared. Ultimately, my platform consisted of the aforementioned ‘let’s defeat Bush.” And at the end of the day—specifically November 2nd—Not Bush was not running for President. John Kerry was.

Election Day was slightly tense in our apartment. Eventually one of the three insurgents switched over from the dark side and voted Kerry (when asked why, he said ‘it was pretty spontaneous’) so it truly became a house…err, an apartment divided. As the votes were tallied, I tasted defeat, which had the pungent flavor of two-week-old leftovers. One roommate in particular took great pride in Bush’s success and reminded me that four more years was not just a threat but soon to be a promise. As the hour grew late, I went to bed. It’s hard to be disappointed when you’re sleeping.

When I woke the next morning to find that George W. Bush was our President again, I felt disillusioned but not surprised. As I went to the kitchen to make my cup of coffee, one of the Republicans amongst us greeted me with a ‘better luck in 2008.’ I forced myself to smile and did the only thing I could think of doing that would give me any semblance of satisfaction: I asked him to take out the garbage. After all, he’s just one of the people who got us back into this mess.


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