[Read Cary Tennis' invitation to write about the ways politics is affecting you.]
The other day I was in the post office mailing my weekly batch of boxes of candy to soldiers. I've been doing this a lot over the past few months because I just have to do something to ease their suffering, even if it's just a box of Bazooka and Dots. The postal worker told me I was using the wrong forms and I probably protested a bit too much so he said, "Listen lady, I'm for Bush too, but you've got to use these new forms."
I went off. I mean really off. How dare he assume that because I support our troops, I also support Bush?! I got loud, probably too loud, and I said things I shouldn't have said about the postal worker's intelligence. I also said some not-so-nice things about President Bush. I left the post office yelling and as I soon as I stepped out the door I became completely paranoid that the postal worker was going to report me to Homeland Security. After all, he had my name and address, he was a federal worker, and isn't it his job to report unpatriotic people?
What is going on?! I'm usually a mild mannered suburban college professor and mother of two. But I seem to be out of control lately.
-- Linda Solomon
I don't know if I'm more disillusioned by the unbelievable criminality of the current administration, or the fact that so many of the people in this country are so blind, so unwilling to become educated, or so filled with ego that despite their gut feelings that things are going wrong, the thought of a Democrat winning the election is the worst thing they can imagine. Not because they believe Kerry is a bad guy, deep down, but because they are Republicans and they'll be damned if a little unprincipled war and the deaths of over eleven hundred of their husbands, brothers and sisters (not to mention all the innocent Iraqis), the cover-ups and bald cronyism, the worsening of environmental protections, and the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, are going to make a difference.
When I see a car or a lawn with a Bush sign or sticker I want to pull those people from their cars and houses and knock some sense into their heads. In fact, as I'm driving past I imagine detailed scenarios, but it never turns out the way it's supposed to, even though it's imaginary! I consider Bush supporters so clueless and shortsighted that the most blatant evidence of Bush's criminality is always ignored. At the same time, though I intend to wear Kerry support on my person I will not put a sticker on my car or a sign on my lawn for fear of the destruction of my property. Does that make me a bad citizen? I mean, I don't think a Kerry sign or sticker is going to sway any of these people. Still, I feel bad about it.
I take some solace, as the days pass, at the hard work of Democrats everywhere to get the truth out, of the brave stands of longtime Republicans against the absurd, radical leanings of this administration. I speak out at every opportunity, but mostly I find views similar to my own (I work in an English department). I find myself wondering, will things go back to normal after the election? If Kerry wins, an audible sigh will be heard around the world. And if Bush wins, what then? I know it's a real possibility.
But that's not the country I lived in for most of my life, is it? I've always known this country isn't perfect. Overall, I've also understood this is a great place to live, and I can't help but wonder, how did this happen to us? It's more than the biological imperative of becoming the most feared and powerful ape, right? Or is it? Am I just a naove optimist, who used to always believe good would triumph over evil? These are scary times, and I feel both horrified and helpless to stop our country's further descent into extremism and the erosion of those principles of fairness and compassion that make this country great.
-- Cindy Dauer
A few days ago, I decided that the answer to this stress was to turn the energy into action. Our house now has the largest and most visible Kerry sign on the block, and my car is a veritable billboard. Yesterday after work, I joined local Democrats to protest a visit by Bush to the area. Several hundred of us stood by the roadside to make our presence felt. There were a few passing "yahoos." One woman shouted the vilest obscenities, gave us a warm "Dick Cheney greeting," and waved her middle fingers around as if they were on fire in front of her young children ("family values" anyone?). Most folks were civil, and several were bemused and almost friendly.
On the way to the event, I fell in alongside a fellow decked out in Bush regalia. He mentioned that he had parked among some Kerry supporters, and that he hoped no one would vandalize his car. I told him that I had had similar concerns, but that I thought it would be OK, that things hadn't come to that point.
"Good," he said, "because, you know, whichever way it goes on Tuesday, whoever wins, will be my president." I shook his hand and wished him luck getting into the rally.
I'm still spending the weekend working for Kerry, and I'm still taking Election Day off to help at the polls. I'm a little less stressed, because I know that however it goes on Tuesday, and in the following weeks, life will go on, along with the need to continue to work for peace and justice, here and abroad.
-- Lauren Cook
Let's say things go my way and Kerry is elected. What am I going to do without five anti-W-themed bumper stickers on my car? Without 25 daily messages from the ACLU, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Meetup, People For the American Way? I've spent nearly four years of my early adult life being appalled, terrified, dismayed, and annoyed. I'm afraid I won't know how to function again as an American with a Democrat in the White House. What will I do with all of my time?
-- Erin Carter
Living in Washington, D.C., I suspect that I'm much more tuned into the fever-pitch political ugliness that surrounds this election, and frankly it's causing me much more anxiety than I'd like. I wish I didn't have to worry that the next four years will be even worse than the last. I wish I wasn't constantly constructing fact-based comebacks to Republicans' fanatical and fantastical uber-optimistic assessments on the State of the Union and the state of the world.
I wish I could believe that my seemingly reasonable Republican friends were just trying to get my goat when they say that you have to curtail certain rights to protect the country, and you can't change Commanders in Chief in the middle of a war, and Abu Ghraib wasn't so bad, and the $300 tax refund I got was a great stimulus to the economy, and the Iraqis are happy to be liberated. I wish I didn't get hot in the face when I saw emails aligning Kerry to the Commies/the Eurofags/al-Qaida, or claiming that Kerry supporter and philanthropist Soros is a hate-monger, or that it would be un-American to have a foreign-born first Lady, or that those of us who want to save the lives of our fighting forces "don't support our troops."
My greatest hope is that all my anxiety will go away on Wednesday morning when we legally elect a new president.
-- Camille Lopez
I've never felt this way about an election before. For the first time in my 36 years I feel compelled to tell the world who I'm voting for (via bumper stickers, yard signs, and letters to the editor). Money is tight for us, but we've sent more than one campaign contribution to Kerry-Edwards, and I've framed and hung up the 8x10 photo they sent me in return.
I have bought extra Kerry-Edwards stickers and buttons and handed them out to friends. I have hounded my non-voting friends to register and vote. I've gotten into online fights with total strangers when they declare their undying support for Dubya. I've told off distant relatives who keep sending me e-mails about how wonderful it is to have a "real Christian" in the White House.
If I had to pick just one issue out of the myriad that upset, anger and disturb me about the Bush administration, I'd say it's his ongoing war on women and women's rights. He talked in the debates about the strong women in his life, so why is he so hell-bent on denying us prescription birth control drug coverage, denying us and women around the world comprehensive family planning services, and keeping our wages still a fraction of men's earnings for the same jobs?
I don't know what we'll do if Kerry loses on Nov. 2, or Dec. 1, or whenever the Supreme Court stops the recount and reinstalls their man George.
-- Laura Haywood-Cory
This year, instead of surfing the Internet all election night like I did the last election to find out in great agonizing detail what is going on, I am going to go to sleep early Tuesday night, wake up Wednesday morning and then see what happened. And hopefully this election won't be going to the Supreme Court.
Even though I am a liberal Democrat and am rooting for Kerry, I find it extremely sad that we are so polarized in this country that even progressives who want peace can't stand to even talk to Republicans. Granted, it took me a while to accept the fact that Republicans are people too, and to learn not to feel at least mildly snide when I saw a "W04" bumper sticker or Bush/Cheney yard sign (which is a rare site in South Austin, Texas, but I have seen a few). If we truly want peace, we need to learn to quit looking at other people as the enemy, and learn how to be civil again.
Everybody, please lighten up! Release your angst and trust the universe that things will work out for the best. Gloom and doom are such tired topics. Not to be a neo-hippy Pollyanna, but negativity and anxiety produce nothing but acid reflux, heart attacks and divorce. No matter what happens this election, y'all, it's gonna be OK!
Everybody, vote this Tuesday and send W back here to Texas where he belongs. Just wake me up on Wednesday, when hopefully it'll all be over.
-- Kelly Porterfield