If you haven’t been watching “The West Wing” this season, you’re really missing out. I realize it lost a lot of viewers a couple of years ago through attrition (I was one of them) but it has regained its footing this season with the presidential campaign and the impending end of the series.
Seriously, you’re going to miss this show when it goes. Whether you’re a liberal or conservative, the writing has always remained impeccable. You may find yourself next year watching television and wondering who let the I.Q. dribble out the back of your satellite dish and curse yourself for being complacent while “The West Wing” still lived.
Anyway, tonight’s episode was the “Election Day” special, and although we don’t know if Santos (Jimmy Smits) or Vinick (Alan Alda) won yet, it did bring us back to our own Election Day experience in 2004. Brought it back so hard, in fact, that I had to fight back emotion on the couch, and Tessa was in tears.
I don’t think it’s possible for conservatives (or the – gasp – truly apolitical) to understand how awful 11/2/04 was for the rest of America. It certainly ranks among the worst days of my entire life, an opinion shared by a lot of people who survived cataclysmic events that were seemingly much more horrific. Sure, I guess that makes us whiny, or precious, or lacking all perspective, but the defeat was so utterly cruel and hopeless that it took every fiber of my being not to quit writing the blog because I no longer gave a remote shit.
Instead, I wrote the Coastopia thing which started a whole ‘nother ball of wax. But I digress.
This particular “West Wing” made us viscerally experience, for the first time in a year and a half, that awful feeling we got around 6pm on Election Day when it appeared the early exit poll numbers had been wrong. Many people – including those of us who worked on Election Protection – had refused to show any optimism until those numbers started saying that the Democrats were up, which made the evening’s reality so much harder to bear. By the time we got back to Brooklyn from Reading, PA, the disaster was in full swing.
How could the majority of the country see what we had seen from 2001 to 2004 and conclude they wanted more of the same? How could we re-elect this utter moron, this lying fratboy thug? Something in us broke that night, our skulls drifted away from the American body politic, and we have not recovered.
American Coastopia was a comic attempt to reconcile this break while continuing to live in a country in which we no longer felt welcome. It was written as an antidote to packing our things and moving somewhere more civilized, somewhere gays are loved, stem cells are researched, womens’ wombs are their own, wars are not the first option, the environment is not raped, and we don’t kill our own people. Because apparently the majority of Americans on 11/2/04 thought all those things were cool.
Oh yeah, national security. Well, you fell for that one too. I still find it incredibly ironic that the places that were actually hit or planned to be hit by foreign terrorism – California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Washington D.C. – all voted for Democrats. But as long as you Alabamians feel safer with Bush, then you got what you wanted.
In fact, you all got what you wanted, and in the eyes of progressives, you got what you deserved. Now your President has an approval rating of 37%, even in the usually-more-conservative Time Magazine poll. Roughly translated from the 2004 election returns, that means 14.2 MILLION people who voted for Bush now disapprove of him. Well, fourteen-point-two-million, you have nobody but yourselves to blame, you pathetic boobs.
Yes, I called you “pathetic boobs”. You deserve it. You left us with this guy and only now bother to show righteous indignation? You make me sick. You had access to the same information as the rest of us. At least real conservatives stick by their guns, but you’re the worst kind of pusillanimous, wobbling imbeciles. I hope your stomach lining eats away what’s left of your digestive tract.
But to be honest, I don’t really care anymore. I try to keep my side of the street clean. I still take potshots at Republican wingnuts from my miniscule pulpit here on the blog, but mostly, I try to negate my impact on the environment, try to write good stories for a living, entertain my friends, and be a good daddy. The tears we cried tonight over a TV show were not tears of rage, they were tears of loss, remembering the night when we cared so much about a country that it nearly killed us to lose it.
And she doesn’t even like me
And I know because she said so
In the room downstairs, she sat and stared
In the room downstairs, she sat and stared
I’ll never make that mistake again.
– The Smiths