Time to hit the barricades?

What are you going to do if Bush wins? Sob? Start a revolution? Get leaner, meaner and tougher? Or move to Canada?

Published October 30, 2004 7:03PM (EDT)

Amid get-out-the-vote efforts, bouts of nervous poll watching and Osama-video viewing, there's an unspoken question in the stop-Bush camp. What if the U.S. president, who wasn't exactly elected in 2000, wins in 2004?

We asked blue-leaning cartoonists, comedians, bloggers and activists to pause in their last-minute pre-election machinations to ponder what they'll do if the U.S. turns just a few pinky shades to the red next Tuesday. Their responses ranged from predicting civil war, to plotting to take Congress in 2006 and even pledging to give up on the "reality-based community" altogether and live in the absurd.

One told us he'd cry.

But sorry, red America, no one said they'd leave the country. Here's an edited version of some true-blue partisan thoughts on what they'll do if faced with four more years of Bush and Cheney in the White House.

"Ginmar," who blogs from a "sarcastic, blue-collar liberal perspective" from her reservist station somewhere in Iraq

What I intend to do if Bush wins is to take the fight to the conservatives. The Republican Party now no longer bears any resemblance to what the GOP used to be. It is so beholden to big business and the so-called moral majority.

Being a blue-collar liberal is an advantage in this case. The college liberals have safer lives, but people like me feel the effects of conservative policy a lot faster and a lot harder. I'm angry, and I'm not alone.

The conservatives have counted on the complacency of the left to be part of their victories. No longer. Until they learn to either be honorable or play fair, it's going to be back in their faces.

Part of the problem in dealing with these radical conservatives is that poor liberals like me don't get much of a voice. I'm poor, I'm pissed, and I've had it.

If I had my way, I'd confront Ann Coulter with every one of her ridiculous statements, and make her find a source for them that's unbiased. She says we should convert Muslims forcibly. Yet my experience has been that a lot of Iraqis are easier to deal with than some of the scary sexist "moral majority" people back home.

Like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, there's just so many lies that you get exhausted rebutting them after a while. I want to make people angry, but I don't want to do it in the PETA kind of way. I think that's stupid, and that's my blue-collar roots showing. Why is it stupid? Because it turns off reasonable people, and wanting politics to be about the truth is nothing but reasonable.

This stuff matters. This stuff is real. This is the real war, here, on American soil.

"Star Trek: The Next Generation" actor turned author of "Just a Geek," Wil Wheaton blogs at wilwheaton.net

For four years, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have lied to the American people about everything from the cost of Medicare "reform" to their ever-changing justifications for invading Iraq. Throughout this campaign, they have tried to terrorize us into giving them four more years to mislead the country and further enrage the world.

A Bush victory would mean much, much more than just the defeat of John Kerry. It would endanger the values that the vast majority of Americans -- the majority of Americans who voted for Al Gore or Ralph Nader in 2000 -- hold dear. It would be a victory for terror. So if George W. Bush wins, I will sit down, and I will cry. I will cry for my children, who will most certainly face a military draft, and I will cry for my country, because I believe that America can, and must, do better than George W. Bush.

Comedian and blogger Margaret Cho

If Bush wins -- certainly a scary thought, more frightening because it is an absolute possibility -- people will be really angry. I mean, more angry than they are now, which seems impossible. Bush winning would probably cause a civil war. It would be impossible for him to do anything because half the country would hate him, and the other half would start to turn on him.

At least right now, America is split down the middle, but it is likely that Bush has quite a few idiot antics left in him to embarrass away all the supporters he has left. Who knows what another four years will bring? It would be exciting if it weren't so terrifying. Democrats will wait in the wings, doing push-ups, taunting Republicans and starting more arguments, because Bush's winning will force liberals to become nastier and meaner than conservatives.

Another term for Bush will prove to the rest of the nation that they were completely wrong in voting him in not once, but twice (if we even voted him into office in the first place), and might silence social conservatives with their own shame for at least a little while, but that isn't worth jeopardizing everything, is it?

Randy Hayes, founder of Rainforest Action Network and director of sustainability for the city of Oakland, Calif.

I've been repeating the mantra, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Eight years of defensive victories for the environment will not save the biosphere from collapsing. I'll be personally advising the social change movement of the United States that works on international issues to redirect the bulk of their activity to the domestic situation.

Because the U.S. footprint on the planet as a whole is of such great consequence that if we don't have a White House with responsible foreign policy -- and I include the global environment as part of foreign policy -- we're all going to have to face the fact that our No. 1 objective is going to be to stop the White House's meltdown of environmental legislation.

And going back to the mantra, we have got to recognize it's not a pretty world, and we're going to have to fight these anti-ecological ignoramuses with everything we've got. Climate change is scary life-and-death stuff. With Russia ratifying Kyoto it puts more pressure on the Bush administration, and if he wins or cheats his way into another term, we've got to come on just that much harder.

He's weak internationally. He's so disliked in Europe and other parts of the planet that we have some allies to intensify the pressures on him here at home. If we have to fight him out for four more years, we'll fight it out for four more years.

The founder of the Webby Awards, Tiffany Shlain, is a San Franciscan who will be driving voters to the polls in Nevada on Election Day

I think that there will be outrage if Kerry doesn't win. If this election gets stolen, it's not going to go quietly like it did in 2000. The Internet has really linked all of the people together to have a much stronger message whatever happens on Nov. 2.

This election, it's not one person, one vote. Why aren't we talking about that? If we win, or if we lose, we need to absolutely restructure the way we choose our president.

No matter what happens on Nov. 2, the Electoral College is antiquated. The fact that votes in California and New York hardly count is not right. If we win or if we lose, the Electoral College needs to be updated.

Barry Deutsch, a cartoonist in Portland, Ore., writes at Alas, a blog

Nov. 2 I'll party with my friends and make a lot of jokes about how the voters have parted ways with the reality-based community.

Nov. 3 and beyond, I'll do pretty much what I've been doing all along.

If Bush wins, the active engagement of feminists and lefties will be essential to protect abortion and other civil rights, by (among other things) pressuring the Senate Democrats to block any Supreme Court nomination to the right of Kennedy or O'Connor. Fighting right-wing attacks on global women's healthcare, on marriage equality for lesbians and gay men, and on whatever other good causes float your boat won't go away just because Bush gets another four years to screw the world up.

Look at what's happened to same-sex marriage under Bush; activists at every level have pushed this issue so far forward that even Bush feels that he has to say something in favor of civil unions. Remember two years ago, when favoring civil unions was a radical left-wing position? Just because Bush is in the White House doesn't mean that progress is impossible.

Bush isn't the all-powerful tsunami of evil that many liberals make him out to be, and the world doesn't end if he's elected on Nov. 2.

"Pam Perd" of Billionaires for Bush

The billionaires will rejoice, and realize that our relationships with the government have continued to pay. And we hope for four more wars.

"Sepoy," a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Chicago, who blogs at Chapatimystery.com

If Bush wins again, he will really go for the jugular in terms of judicial appointments, welfare and Social Security reform. Will the Democrats stand up to him this time? I really have my doubts. It is up to the online community of thinkers/activists/bloggers to provide the necessary bulwark against Bush's second-term policies.

Only a press kept on its toes by the online community can deter or hinder the expansion of the Middle East theater. At least, the New York Times and the Washington Post, etc., will not play along as they did in 2003.

The other great development is grass-roots mobilization for congressional and Senate races. The level of enthusiasm and support for such races is unprecedented, and I think blog collectives such as dailyKos and Atrios as well as ACT, etc., would be a great springboard to launch the Take Back Congress in 2006 campaign.

So, while I will be disappointed, I will not be disheartened. At stake is something greater than the White House. It is truth, dignity of human lives in this country and justice everywhere. I must continue to raise my voice against what I see is unfair and wrong. To fall silent will be deadly.

Blogger and Web developer Cameron Barrett, who spent a year working for the Clark and Kerry campaigns, and blogs here

I have said in the past I would move overseas, but these days I feel that statement is too reactionary. America is still a great country, and the country of my birth. I dislike Bush's policies and feel they are too shortsighted when it comes to foreign policy and maintaining America's reputation, but it's not going to stop me from loving this country.

Bush tends to polarize politics, kind of forcing people into one of two camps: "either you're with me or against me" and phrasing like that, which I now realize is intentional. So, moving to another country would be like giving in to it. It is easier for Bush to realize his fantasy of him being a great world leader if he can dismiss all those people that are "against him" and ignore the damage he is doing to America's reputation and the world. So, moving overseas because of Bush is a reactionary answer and an escape from the real problem; which is that Bush is bad for stability in the world.

Jessica Valenti, executive editor, Feministing.com

Make sure that young women's voices continue to count. In the lead-up to the election, the frenzy around young women voters made our issues visible -- for a moment. If our votes aren't successful in ousting Bush, we want to ensure that our voices are heard in the fight to come. The focus on young women and our political participation needs to continue, especially if Bush wins -- his war on women is disproportionately affecting our lives.

Professor John-Paul Spiro blogs at everythingsruined.com

I almost feel that smart people should go on strike for four years just in a kind of "Atlas Shrugged" way, except with the opposite politics.

If you are a thinking person it's becoming impossible to go along with this program. And if he wins it's not even left vs. right, or red vs. blue anymore. It's thinking vs. not thinking, and the thinking people should go on strike.

On a personal level, I think that I will live in absurdity for four years. If Bush wins again, it will be this triumph over rational thought. Rational thought will have been demonstrated to have no efficacy, and no application anymore, and the only choice left will be just to become absurd in the way a lot of Russians did for decades. They had no choice but to find it all ridiculous.

In my blog, I would no longer address events. I would either create my own fantasies, or treat everything like it's a fantasy. I would no longer be a member of the reality-based community, because they will have lost. To make claims about reality will no longer be valid.

Where do we go from here? We stop taking things seriously. Whatever people say about Kerry, what I've always liked about him is he takes things seriously.

Seriousness will have lost, so we'll have to go for the opposite.

John Grimes, cartoonist, illustrator and producer of the documentary "There's Something About W: A Wry Look at the Policies of the Bush Administration"

If Bush does squeak by, I've got a five-point plan:

First, I'd apply for one of those cushy mongering positions at the new Department of Fear. Second, I'd learn Canadian, just in case. Third, I'd go to the counter-inauguration rally in D.C. in January to help show the world that's there no mandate, just another goofball American mistake. Fourth, I'd do more cartoons about political issues now that Bush has politicized everything. Fifth, to celebrate our 25th anniversary of heavy dating, Robin [director and co-producer of "There's Something About W"] and I will travel to Old Europe in the spring. We'll apologize profusely and ask those cheese-eating, war-averting chocolate makers to help us raise hell for four years while we work to put a true humanitarian in the Oval Orifice."

Technology entrepreneur Sunil Paul, who is the executive director of iCanvas.org, a progressive political site

First, I'm going to be depressed for about a week. But while in the dumps, I'll muster the energy to redouble our efforts to raise the voices of everyday folks who are dismayed at the direction of our country.

We'll enable people to reach out to their friends and family to convince them as well. I think the most powerful political voices are those of people we know and trust -- not the talking heads on TV. We'll set our sights on the next election cycle and win Congress.

The nebbish in chief of the blog Internebbish

I think I will give everyone I know a lot of duct tape to try to hold their skulls together so when Bush talks their brains don't shoot out of the back of their heads.

Adam Werbach ran the Sierra Club when he was 23, is the author of "Act Now, Apologize Later," and now serves on the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission

If Bush wins, there will be all the handwringing that should have happened more after Gore lost. Hopefully, [Democratic National Committee chair] Terry McAuliffe will be fired. And there might be an opportunity to change the Democratic Party.

If Kerry wins, it may be harder, because while we'd like to think if Kerry wins then the ideas that we collectively hold win. That's clearly not the case. Kerry will have won on a platform of being against Bush, not on any platform of ideas. And so he's still going to face a hostile Congress. He's still going to face an American public that is hostile to the idea of government activism. And he's going to face a crippling budget deficit that will force him to do the Republicans' bidding, which is to lessen the size of government.

I'm dedicating myself to helping Kerry win. But, if he does, it's going to be more challenging because of all the smug people who will think that Kerry won because they were right, when the truth is that Kerry won because Bush is such an idiot.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

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2004 Elections