“…or else we didn’t win anything at all.”

I went to a local park and had lunch with a friend of mine today. It’s beautiful here, but we can tell that it’s Summer’s last attempt to hold Autumn at bay, and we’ll be suffering through the misery of sixty degree afternoons soon enough. There’s even rumor of an inch of rain before the end of the year, which we both know will turn our freeways deadly. Um, it also seemed like a good excuse to walk away from the computer and enjoy actual human contact for a change. While we ate sandwiches and watched little kids chase each other, we talked about the election. We’re two small blue spots in a sea of red here, and we’d shared hopes and fears over the last several months.

“I guess we’re supposed to be gracious in victory,” I said, “but I’m profoundly offended to hear ‘we need to look forward and not backward’ and ‘we need to stop being so partisan’ from the very same fucking motherfuckers who have been telling us that we hate our country and love terrorists for the last eight years? These are the same people who worked really hard to make sure that I and everyone who didn’t agree with their blind support of Bush and Bush policies didn’t feel welcome in our own fucking country for eight years!”

I looked down at my hands, which had involuntarily clenched into fists. I felt a frightening and unexpected, uncharacteristic fury rise in my chest.

“I want to grab these people by the throat and scream at them ‘HOW DO YOU LIKE IT FUCKER?! YOU LOST! YOU FAIL! YOU GO HOME NOW!’”

I kept my voice low, but was really worked up, shocked and horrified at the level of anger I was feeling.

We looked at each other for a moment. I was embarrassed by my outburst. This really isn’t like me. Fortunately, my friend is incredibly cool and unflappable. She is also incredibly wise. She put her sandwich down and wiped the corners of her mouth with a paper napkin.

She pointed out at the different people in the park and said, “They are home. We share this country, all of us, whether we like it or not.

“We voted against intolerance for people that don’t share ‘the right’ views because we and people we respect and admire have been the victims of intolerance for too long. We voted against hypocrisy and fear and hate. We voted for a chance to change.”

I unclenched my fists and looked at little half-moons in the palms of my hands. “I should feel celebratory. I should feel happy and relieved. Why in the world do I suddenly feel so angry?”

“Seething quietly and privately is understandable and totally warranted. Just, every time you want to grab someone by the throat, try to remember how both Obama and McCain have always reacted to boos from their audiences. One man said ‘we don’t need any more of that’ – and that’s the administration we voted for. Because we don’t need any more of that. We need to chip away at the havens of hate in this country until there is nothing left for the haters to fight with. Because that is going to be the biggest payback of all.

“Someday, the people that ‘don’t feel welcome’ in a tolerant and just place aren’t going to feel welcome anywhere.

“We don’t need to take any shit from anyone, but we can not become the bullies we’ve hated. Or else we didn’t win anything at all.”

While I processed all of this, she smiled and added, “Yes, my horse is very high, and I like it that way. I can see a long way from up here.”

“Damn. You’re wise,” I said. “I’m going to have to write down ‘We don’t need any more of that’ and use it to get over eight years of resentment. It’s going to take awhile to get over being called a traitor and being told to, effectively, ‘shut up and sing,’ but you’re absolutely right. We can not become the bullies we’ve hated.”

We finished our sandwiches, and walked through the park before we both had to get home to our families.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have had a second cup of coffee this morning,” I offered.

“I’m sure you’ll get your cool back once it wears off.”

I hope she’s right.

Afterthought: This doesn’t mean that progressives suddenly drop our agenda to fundamentally change things. This doesn’t mean that we don’t fight for what we believe in over the next four and hopefully eight years. This means that, as human beings and as Americans, we can choose to live in John McCain’s vision of an angry, divided, fearful America, or Barack Obama’s vision of a tolerant, united, hopeful America. It’s not going to be easy for me, especially after the hateful, divisive campaign McCain ran and eight years of being screamed at by George Bush’s True Believers. But as my friend said, “We need to chip away at the havens of hate in this country until there is nothing left for the haters to fight with. Because that is going to be the biggest payback of all … we can not become the bullies we’ve hated. Or else we didn’t win anything at all.”

176 thoughts on ““…or else we didn’t win anything at all.””

  1. Opinionator, thank you for posting the sources to back up your statement. I appreciate the information.
    Personally, I believe that voting to curtail people’s rights is obscene. Most of us probably wouldn’t entertain the idea of going back to a time when women and blacks couldn’t vote – but it’s okay to deny gay folks certain rights because their lifestyle is “wrong”?
    That, as I said earlier, is obscene.
    I know the old, tired argument: The term “marriage” refers to the traditional union of one man and one woman. So come up with a different term for gay marriage! I don’t put much stock in tradition anyway, especially when it’s archaic and exclusionary.
    I also know the other old, tired argument: The union of one man and one woman makes for a more stable household. It’s for the children, don’t you see? [Never mind that some gay couples aren’t interested in raising children, just like some hetero couples aren’t.]
    As my husband said, if people are so damned concerned about stable households, when will we see the proposition on the ballot that bans divorce?

  2. @Jansbob
    Yes, that’s why November 4th was so, so, so, so sad. It was a referendum on the socialization of America. The people knew that they voted for a Marxist globalist.
    It’s not that the hard left government will proactively squash dissent – Republicans will simply have to move left to have any hopes of winning majorities.
    But that begs the question – what competition is liberalism in the face of socialism? America will never return to the constitutional mandates of limited government, minimal taxation, and freedom and private property.
    The people want a free lunch, want government to control their lives, and want to bow to the collective political will of the world at large.

  3. I’m not sure anyone will read my this since it will be buried in a sea of 150+ posts but here goes.
    Yes, we shouldn’t govern in anger and hatred ad Bush did for 8 years (and more before that in Texas) or by the forces in government that pushed forward into national consciousness again with Nixon* and have been around ever since with hatred and revenge as tools in their lust for power and money but…
    But even as we try to be even handed, even tempered and egalitarian and fair in all things we should keep in mind a popular saying:
    “If you want peace, work for justice.”
    I believe there should be justice done for the wrongs propagated by the Bush Administration. Take a look at http://prosecutegeorgebush.com/. This is a start. Consider charging those who pushed for torture and illegally holding prisoners in Guantanamo for Crimes Against Humanity. In other words, hold these people accountable. Don’t let them complete the “do horrible things and get away with it” plan. Don’t let them get away with it. Sure, right the constitution, help the poor and work for equal rights for all again but…
    BUT work for JUSTICE if you want peace. And the world is now crying out for justice.
    *Nixon didn’t start this but these type of “Lee Atwater tactics” have been around in every nation for a long time. It’s only at that point we actually saw a resurgence of it in our country. Look at what Tricky Dick did in California before becoming president. Look at his record in congress.

  4. Wil,
    Thanks for sharing your feelings. I totally can relate to your anger. I have been feeling anger since George W. Bush entered office. But my anger hasn’t just been with him but with the administration that supported him and unaffective Congress. However, the people that supported this man and his damaging policies.
    I actually teared up when Obama won and for him to take my home state of Virginia made me feel hope as I have not felt in a long time.

  5. man you people are lucky. I live in College Station, Texas the center of the conservative, bush loving, anything left hating universe.
    so many people here are buying every gun and ammo they can because Obama is going to take away their “rights” to own weapons. (he isn’t)
    he is going to take money from the rich and give it to Africian nations.
    the country is doomed, the terrorist will be walking down main street USA
    Democrats hate the military (I’m retired military)
    Democrats will let ‘homo’s take over the schools and convert your children
    these is a little of the fucking shit I’ve had to put up with over the last 8 years. People here still think bush is the best thing to happen to the US.

  6. Hey Wil,
    Long time lurker, first time commenter.
    I know I’m late to the party (so to speak) on this one, but felt the need to weigh in on this particular post. I have been a political consultant (I run campaigns) for many years now and could give you a very lengthy explanation of why the last eight years played out the way they did and how we as a nation arrived at this point in time. Instead, I offer you this quote that I have tacked to the wall in my office and that I think Barack Obama embodies more than any politician in recent memory:
    “Don’t fight darkness. Bring the light, and darkness will disappear.” -Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
    I understand your frustration. However, you can’t fight hatred and anger with more hatred and anger. It just doesn’t work that way.
    I really enjoy reading your blog; you’re a great writer. I was impressed with the unabashed passion that you brought to recent posts about the election. In your own way, you are already bringing “light” to the people who read your thoughts. Just keep doing what you do. It’s what matters.

  7. @Erbo: Wow. You know, it’s amazing that nobody has singled out your anger as a problem, and everyone’s jumping all over Wil’s. BTW, there have been plenty on the Right who have sunk to “that level” already. It’s also amazing that while you’re more than willing to “document every slip-up, every broken promise, every gaffe” – have you documented the same on your side for others?
    If you have, I apologize and will take back any raised eyebrow at your vitriol. If not, please refer to what I, and Mac Guy, and the others who are attempting to stop the hatred on both sides have said already, and do what Wil has already accepted he will do: work away from the hatred and towards fixing this mess. Otherwise this will be just another eight years of pointing fingers and “I told you sos”. Because there’s plenty of that on BOTH sides, thank you, and that’s not productive, and never has been.
    Still being sickened and amazed at the amount of hatred and misunderstanding that’s getting thrown around here… apparently, it really is more human to hate than to compromise. 😛

  8. Wanted to add a fast addendum: Thanks to all those who -have- been posting positive comments and thoughts, you bring hope to what sometimes seems to be an incredibly hopeless conversation. You are very, very appreciated by this Independent Moderate who wants to see things get better.

  9. I personally don’t understand the anger, but I guess it’s because you believe anyone who voted for John McCain actually liked Bush and his administration. I sometimes feel politics and the news is roughly the equivalent of of a 5-min hate. Pointless, and entirely effective at draining the populace of the energy to think independently and do something purposeful.

  10. Your friend is one smart cookie 😉
    But you lost me on “the misery of 60 degree afternoons.” Shall I take it to mean you’re a “Heat Miser” type that can’t stand it if the external temperature is rivaling body temp? If so, you might want to consider moving down here to Atlanta…you’d be in your element for real!

  11. Man, I just hope the wonderfulness of Wil writing about things political goes back to the more tolerable level of “once in a while” pretty quickly. The people who agree with you already agree with you and the people who don’t will not have their minds changed by what they read on this blog.
    I understand that there will be some period of time where you write about this stuff a lot, but it isn’t the subject that I come here for to read about.
    It is great that Obama is President, I love Wil’s writing, and I love the Dixie Chicks. I just don’t care to listen to their political views at their concert, whether I agree with them or not. Feel the same way about this site.
    Probably should take a “Wil Vacation” for month or so ; )

  12. And as the saying from the old empire goes … “In victory – Revenge, in defeat – Malice”.
    (… just joking …)
    There was blanket coverage here in Oz, and I choked back tears of my own when Jesse Jackson was shown with tears streaming down his face.
    I’m so happy for the US, if only because you’re all (well the majority of you) so happy with the outcome.
    Electing Obama is not only a wonderfully historic moment for the USA, it’s the circuit breaker your nation and the rest of the world needs after the nightmare of the last 8 years.
    Hopes and expectations are so high, I hope Obama and his team can deliver.
    Poor GW, will there be *anything* in his legacy which can be considered positive?

  13. Wil,
    Write whatever you feel. I understand the anger you have felt over the past eight years. I also understand that there are some crazy drugged out leftist hippies who do nothing for the greater cause claiming to be Democrats as well. That doesn’t mean that I, as a Democrat, need to be defensive everytime someone calls one of them out for their idiotic actions. Some Republicans need to recognize that they too are represented by some bad people as well who do insist on calling otherd terrorists, traitors, and unpatriotic. Don’t get upset at those who are fed up with this verbal abuse. Get upset and angry at those giving you a bad name. Oh and for whoever has not seen it yet, check out the new South Park from this past week. Freaking hilarious and it brings to light all of the ignorance displayed by some Americans.

  14. @Cassie ST,
    The most racially integrated White House in history (up until that point); and supposedly he was good for humanitarian aid, etc., in Africa. He’s being gracious, so far, in the transition. Does that make up for the bad stuff? No, but you asked…
    (Also no attacks here since 9/11, although I don’t know how much credit goes to GWB for that)

  15. I have seen this played out time and again. Where I work, I think that I was one of the few that voted for Obama. Comments such as, “Somebody should just shoot him now and get it over with” were heard by me more than once.
    We live in a Democracy and as such, we MUST accept the rules that a democracy requires. The country voted and Obama won. If we are to hold our country’s democratic system up and say how wonderful we are, then we should also be willing to accept the outcome. Too many people have, or at least voice, the opinion that they love democracy.. until they lose and then it is the standard slew of name-calling and side-mouth comments. When Bush won his second election, I was disappointed, but I accepted it. Looking back, I can see that there were a LOT of problems and yes, I was one of the people who questioned the polling results. “How can a man who loses the majority vote be president?” was the question that played through my mind. Please.. before anybody starts the lesson on the Electorial College… I know all of that already. Thank you.
    The next four years will see if those of us who voted for Obama were right or not. If we were wrong, then we can vote for somebody else.
    I think that the one thing that angered me the most was that you could not turn on the TV or radio without seeing/hearing something that resembled a mud-ball fight. Is this what politics is now? Throwing dirt? Or has it always been this? Maybe I am paying more attention now, but it seems that the name-calling and mud-throwing is getting worse. Obama, I was happy to see, played a clean(er) fight.
    Oh well… I’ll let you know if I was right in 4 years.

  16. @Keikan300,
    Read Founding Brothers. Also search “alien and sedition acts.” Some elections have been much better than others, but in the beginning there were vile rumors, intentionally spread, accusations of treason against anyone who disagreed with the president, etc.. In some fledgling democracies since the USSR fell there have been terrible, bloody riots when the wrong person won. I guess it takes a while to learn that an election that doesn’t go your way isn’t the end of the world, and that those who didn’t vote your way aren’t necessarily evil. Apparently we’re still working on it.

  17. I too have been feeling a bit resentful about the last 8 years. I just have to keep telling myself that if we *hadn’t* been forced to live with Bush in office for that long, we may not have Obama now.
    I just hope it turns out to be worth the price.

  18. Will I’m a Democrat and I only started to vote last year. I’m so happy that Obama won. Like alot of Democrats we felt what you felt everyday living here. We need to get our troops out and back home with their families. Obama has alot to clean up because of Bush. Obama is gonna have his work cut out for him, but I feel that he will be a great president. I’m so happy that he got elected. I feel like making a t-shirt that says something like. “I’m a Democrat and proud of it.”

  19. Two thoughts.
    1. Only fools fight with each other in a burning house. And the house IS burning down. You can either scream at each other while the walls are melting around you, or you can grab a fire extinguisher and get to work.
    2. If everyone judged everyone else by the worst examples of their kind, we’d all be dead in a nuclear war by now.
    Finally, anyone who wants to talk politics should take a few minutes and read this article first: http://www.cracked.com/article_16656_6-brainwashing-techniques-theyre-using-on-you-right-now.html Read it then ask yourself, “How am I being brainwashed?”
    The answers might surprise you.

  20. Well Wil since you keep bumping this to the top of your blog I want to point out a good quote I once heard…
    “Don’t be a dick!”
    I’m not sure who said it though….

  21. Wil – In reading about your outburst I was reminded of how you have written previously about your problems with Star Trek fans who couldn’t see you separately from your character. Same idea applies, I think (more or less) – getting upset with people who are truly ignorant about you is just a waste of your emotional energy.
    Conservatives are driven by (often irrational) fear of loss. Liberals are driven by (often irrational) hope. Obama will not even come close to solving all of our most pressing problems because he did not cause them nor does he perpetuate them. The best thing any of us can do is take responsibility for every possible aspect of our lives as we can, pray, and act according to whatever guidance we may receive in helping others.
    I think the truly good news is that we don’t need every single person in this country to be in complete agreement in order to solve any particular problem… just a critical mass of sensible and caring individuals, who are the silent moderate majority, of all political leanings. And I seriously doubt we will need to rob the rich or starve the poor in order to do so.

  22. If you think all staunch conservatives are disrespectful, please read this excerpt from this blog: http://www.thebaughers.com
    “I’m a fairly staunch conservative. I disagree with our new President-elect Obama on just about every idea he’s ever expressed. But for the next 4 years, he’s the President of our country. He’s our representative to the world. We need to be respectful, even in dissent.”

  23. Havens of hate?
    Is this what Reid and Pelosi will call talk-radio when they reintroduce the “Fairness Doctrine”? Free speech is cool as long as they agree with you? Otherwise they are haters? Interesting, Wil. Be careful what you wish for.

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