Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Crumbs Near The Trail

"He'll end the war."

"No he won't. He's in no position --"

"He'll bring honor back to our country."

"Great. That's all we need. More honor."

"Why are you here?"

Excellent question. One I asked myself when working at Kerry/Edwards headquarters. What the fuck am I doing here?

Some friends supported Kerry out of Nader Regret/Guilt. They swallowed the fiction that Nader ruined our pristine nation, was to blame for everything from the invasion of Iraq to acid reflux, so they had to atone by working for a pro-war corporate stiff like John Kerry. While I felt zero guilt about voting Nader, I did want to defeat Bush/Cheney in 2004, and Kerry was the only candidate who could do so.

Still, it was tough for an old political fuck like me. I'd worked on campaigns when most of these white boy operatives were mewling babes, so receiving instructions from them required patience and whatever humility I possessed. But when they talked policy, imitating George Stephanopoulos from "The War Room," feet propped on desks, braying into phones, barking orders at volunteers (who surprisingly took it), I'd engage a few over coffee, gauging their political takes.

As the above exchange suggests, they subscribed to symbolism, myth, and the desire to win at all costs, regardless of political reality. While I tactically agreed with Kerry's need to win, I remained aware of his imperial status and place among our managerial class. Such sentiments drew sarcastic grins: "imperialism" indeed. What outdated horseshit! President Kerry would reorder the nation along more progressive lines, just as Al Gore would have had Ralph Nader minded his own business. They seemed to believe that with each election, the system itself changed, subservient to the personality of the new president. The notion that Kerry would sweep into the White House and dismantle the very machinery that put him there comforted these young Democrats. It was their fantasy revolution.

In the end, I was no better; in some ways, worse. I was on their turf expecting them to consider my twisted thoughts. They behaved precisely as they should've behaved, and would've behaved whether or not I was present. The conceit that I could broaden their perspectives while phone banking was egotistical and dumb. It spoke more to my personal frustration than to any real political opening or opportunity.

Despite winning a massive amount of votes, Kerry lost, Dem partisans claiming that Ohio was stolen and that Kerry should protest. If Ohio was indeed rigged in favor of Bush, then no surprise. Fixed elections are decidedly All American. That Kerry would question the system that nourished his privilege was absurd. Al Gore showed how the game was played four years before. This left many liberals scratching their heads, but did little to radicalize them. For at bottom, they trusted a privately-owned political system to occasionally do the right thing, whatever that was. In their case, elect "better" Democrats.

By the time of my Kerry diversion, my enthusiasm for the Afghan war quickly ebbed, helped by my opposition to the Iraq invasion and various antiwar sources. It was like waking from a Dali-esque nightmare, my insane warbling floating in cyberspace, popping up as a snapshot of my earlier bloodlust. I mended several friendships nearly severed by my rhetoric, then looked for an outlet to sort through and make sense of the voices crashing in my skull.

A journalist friend in New York suggested starting a blog. My wife agreed, tired of my ranting and stomping around the house. "You're a writer," she reminded me. "So write."

So I did.

NEXT: Emerging from the muck; class warfare à la carte.