Thomm Quackenbush, author

11.14.04 1:10 a.m.

Of course the people don't want war... That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.  

-Hermann Goering

 



Previously in Xenology: Shrub got admitted to the White House once, but surely that couldn't happen again?

Election

Emily and I were at a party at her friends' house months ago. The occasion, as though one needs one to have a party, was that a member of Emily's clan was beating a dusty retreat to a warmer land and this necessitated chips and dip.
M Bunny  
Not for Voldemort

Over said dip, Emily and I were chatting to one another quietly. We may try to chitter to others - Emily more successfully than me - but we will eventually just end up talking happily to one another. It is our default state. This is likely why we are an obnoxious couple.

In the midst of one of out random turns of conversation, I told Emily that Angela promised to give me one of the "Republicans for Voldemort" stickers that she had acquired from Goats. An older woman, with whom neither Emily nor I had spoken in the least, brightened and hopefully asked if we were Republicans.

Let me reiterate my prejudices along with the facts. This party was largely composed of tattooed and very open Pagans, one of whom must have invited this woman. According to my programming, Pagans tend to lean more to the left of the political spectrum, particularly given that Shrub the Smaller feels that we do not constitute an actual religion and should not be afforded equal rights. There were also several people of alternate lifestyles, and we all know Shrubs stance on this. If not for these factors - and this is my own bias again - men with long hair down to their butt also tend to lean to the left of the political spectrum. As such, my response was an even and placating, "No. I am also not for Voldemort."

It is in this spirit that I am disappointed in what seems to amount to 52% of our country. Emily, Zack, and I had summoned forth an impromptu election night party composed solely of the three of us and take-out. Little more is needed for a party, which is good as little more is inclined to arrive.

We watched the talking heads on the television spin the numbers and, before drifting into a mutually fitful slumber - Emily and I in our loft bed and Zack on our couch - saw that things did not look good for Kerry. While I cannot espouse being a fervent follower of Kerry - my chosen candidate had been dismissed months earlier - he certainly made more sense to me as a leader than the current possessor of the Oval Office. He operates by a logic I usually understand and can generally respect. He seems to have a personal comprehension of global politics, viewing America as a citizen of Earth and not a conquering planet in its own right. Plus, he is a polyglot, even if some supposed Americans choose to scorn the ability to speak French. In retrospect, it may be a hard pill to swallow, but we should value intelligence and vision in our elected officials rather than their ability to commit felonies and get away with it. I am getting pedantic and political, rightly the job of our dear Melissa in Fear and Loathing, so I will move on.

When we awoke the following morning, the arguing over numbers continued as though nary a minute had past while we slept. We were not particularly surprised that this would be another contested election and a stubborn part of me would have rather have had another election debacle than a clear win for a man I cannot support. We went to breakfast, as pancakes tend to make the world run a little more smoothly. This, in fact, is the root cause for the creation of pancakes.

The world outside my apartment was awkwardly arranged, the air a little too full of helium or opiates. Nothing quite looked right, though I was certain the corners of buildings could not actually be as jagged as they seemed. The lack of certainty about an election that I thought to be a simple matter had suspended my worldview. We had gotten out the vote and purportedly enfranchised a great many people who would not have otherwise voted. Kerry spoke well at the debates and Bush had stammered and jabbered like a hung-over frat boy who hadn't prepared for the oral portion of the test. Melissa had put it best when she told me, "Election day is like Christmas Eve, if Christmas might also be Armageddon." I couldn't read the omens, but knew that every speck of Republican Red looked eerily like warm blood.

After a pancakeless lunch at Friendly's, Emily having steered us wrong, we retired to her parents' home that had been vacated until the end of the work day. News was coming slowly and abstractly, words almost becoming separate entities that refused to cooperate with their adjoining brethren to form logical sentences. I had already gone past being jaded with the divergent messages being regurgitated along the radio dial. Yes, there are differences of opinion (I was certainly having my share) but facts should be fairly concrete. Either Kerry won Ohio - and thereby the election - or he didn't.

Around one, the radio apologetically mumbled that Kerry had given up waiting for the rest of the votes to be counted and was just going to concede defeat. Somewhere, a Skull and Bones conspiracy theorist ejaculated at the possibility that this whole election was just a ruse, but we all just let out the inkling of hope that had been dwindling within us. For me, it was not that Kerry wasn't going to win. I had girded myself for this possibility when I saw how close the race was coming. It was that - and I feel his concession speech said as much - he was essentially disregarding the thousands of votes yet to be counted. Fabulous way to disenfranchise the very people we had been trying to convince that the democratic system of government was not wholly corrupt. The decent thing to do would have been to get up on stage, say that each vote will be counted because that is the point of our electoral system, admit that this is being done for the integrity of the elections and not out of a misguided sense of hope, and leave amid applause. When the last vote is counted, feel free to concede. Kerry had nothing to lose by taking the higher road, and he lost it anyway.

Emily and Zack would not watch the concession speech and did not quite see why I felt I had to. It was not morbid curiosity, at least not for the most part. I just needed to see and hear it to process its validity. Perhaps I had misunderstood. But no.

The situation could not help but feel graver than it was and I began to mull over life in Canada. This is not a recent thought, as I have entertained the idea lost before 2000. This just reignited my yearning to be in a place with socialized health care and a respect for individual freedoms. An educational system that does not place such an emphasis on killing intellectual curiosity through standardization and where college is affordable for everyone would certainly been a boon societally (Jefferson wrote quite eloquently on the importance of an educated populous) and personally (less feeling my slight passion in teaching being executed on the gallows of mediocrity). Plus, I like $2 coins.
Zack and M  
My little universe

We three existed outside the immediacy of the day. A battle had been lost and there would be casualties in the literal and figurative sense. This was not our current affair. We were together and would work this out somehow. While Emily researched graduate programs in Indo-Tibetan Studies in Ontario, I read The Invisibles on the futon and Zack tuned a guitar he had found in the closet. In our holy moment, I couldn't help but be optimistic that we would work things out and do it without parting. The world, while evidently not terribly bright, was not an intentionally cruel place. It did provide me with two of my soul kin in fairly close proximity, and that is a rare and wonderful thing indeed.

Even if a lot of you did vote for Voldemort.
 
Audio Extra: Conversation in a Scarbux (4.7M).


Soon in Xenology: Estrangement. Angela's circles. Nude free spirits. Zack's girlfriend.

last watched: Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind
reading: Villa Incognito
listening: Hail To The Thief
wanting: a passport.
moment of zen: Surviving the apocalypse.
someday I must: Deal entirely in twonnies.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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