An Open Apology To America 2008

Aquarian Weekly 11/12/08 REALITY CHECK


Dearest United States (Most of),

I was wrong.

Despite my hard-line skepticism, serious doubts, and relentless cynicism born from over two centuries of recidivistic dementia, you did not elect a middle-aged Anglo-Saxon, Protestant white guy who pandered to your basest fears while treating you like a spastic ten year-old. You did the unthinkable, the historic; expunging the old-boy’s network filled with tired retreads with lobby-addled dance cards and corporate lackeys, labor racketeers with Birch Society, Morality-Quack, Hollywood, Oil Baron, Wall Street golf enthusiasts.

You did it. You made history. You buried history. You literally put a new face on your presidency. You voted in overwhelming numbers from middle class white single moms to lunch pail beer swillers to college dinks and fist-pumping queers and radical outsiders to fed-up genuine conservatives and leftist pinkos to disgruntled retirees and proud minorities and even weary first-timers nourished on well-earned apathy.

You put a man into your White House who only 21 months ago was nowhere. No money. No name. No affiliations. No press. No groundswell or demo-marketing focus group pollers. No favor-handing, my-turn party craven resume. No silver-spoon nepotistic underachiever credentials. No misogynistic double-talking viper psychosis. A first-generation American with a black father from the jungles of Kenya and a single mother from the wheat fields of Kansas having to leap frog the entire Democratic Smear Machine and the Republican Madhouse.

You said you wanted change, and instead of whipping yourself into a senseless frenzy and then looking the other way, you did the unthinkable. You voted for change. You went out and enacted the concept of democracy; however distorted, manipulated and dysfunctionally imperfect it remains. You gave the democracy thing a whirl.

And as astounding as it feels to actually write this, you did not need ugly rhetoric or wild shenanigans, under-handed tactics or silly slogans or scorched earth backbiting and angry retorts from every corner of the antiquated two-party death knell to do so. The steady, bright, even-keeled, unwavering hope peddler put it to you and you actually voted for him.

You kicked tradition in the balls. You stomped the terra and made history, and while you were at it, you did not ignore your darkest corners of it. You faced it, as the candidate faced it with you.

And I am especially pleased with your youth, which had been pummeled with nonsense for four decades when Viet Nam and riots and thug-police and a corrupt FBI and unbridled CIA and a lunatic president battling the fire-breathing, march-happy underground radicals obliterated the middle-ground of your body politic setting up one bummer after another; Kent State, Watergate, Malaise, Savings & Loan, Iran/Contra, Desert Storm, Contract With America, Monica Lewinsky, Ken Starr, 9/11, Patriot Act, Mission Accomplished, to name just a very few.

I did not think you had it in you. I had heard forever how motivated and pissed off and fired-up you were going to be, and come Election Day, I was disappointed in you every time. Every time. But not this time.

Granted, it took the greatest economic meltdown in 80 years and one car wreck of a campaign to move you quickly in this direction, but move you did. And I am proud of you and I owe you a public and humbling apology.

Four years ago, in the wake of the inconceivable re-election of George W. Bush, I wrote this about you…

“Turns out Zell Miller’s apoplectic lunacy at the convention three months ago was right on the money. He was goofy, but he spoke for the electorate. Miller represents the majority. It hasn’t changed in 220-plus years of this republic. You want to change the hearts and minds of the hinterland? You want to jerk the South from its Bible Belt? You had better get the army together, like Lincoln did. Burn their cities and teach them a thing or two. These people are still fighting the damned Civil War. Those people who were power-hosing the black folk in Alabama and Mississippi and the Carolinas during the Civil Rights movement? They’re still there, and they had children, and they’re not trading the country in for any slick talking Yankee lawyer who ain’t down with Jesus. Give them a smiling hick like Carter or Clinton or they’re sending you back to the Ivy League.”

Well, Virginia and North Carolina kicked my ass but good this time. Those states, along with Colorado and New Mexico out west, where the new economic centers are, beat the hell out of convention. The blaze of true change engulfed weirdly entrenched places like Missouri, Indiana and Iowa, and put old Democratic politico junctions in Ohio and Pennsylvania in their place. Barack Obama, the next president, didn’t even need them or the almost entirety of the south; like he didn’t need them to defeat Madam Hillary and put to shame the sad excuses offered up by losers like Al Gore and John Kerry. He did not need them to beat the white, military veteran who yelled “Socialism” and “Radical” from sea to shiny sea.

You kicked tradition in the balls. You stomped the terra and made history, and while you were at it, you did not ignore your darkest corners of it. You faced it, as the candidate faced it with you.

On the eve of the most unlikely victory in your rich and bizarrely brilliant ledger, Mr. Obama stood before a cheering mob in Manassas, Virginia, the site of the bloody battles of Bull Run, mere miles from the capital of the doomed Confederacy, and within shouting distance of the home of your father, George Washington and your most endearing author, Thomas Jefferson, who had both dreamed of and fought for liberty while inexplicably owning human beings. Then, after carrying that state in his improbable ride to the most powerful post on the planet, standing before a million weeping revelers in a park where 40 years before in the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination the Democratic Party went up in flames as thousands of protesters were beaten bloody by crazed cops on national television, in the home state of your greatest president, the emancipator of the slaves, Abraham Lincoln, Barack Obama, 47 year-old junior senator, a black man, embodied your greatest promise; all men are indeed created equal.

It is a story of achievement so starkly inconceivable it does it no service to encapsulate it in the words bound by political commentary. Only poetry. Only song. Only someone not yet born will be able to immortalize it properly.

But until then I offer this humble request for forgiveness.

Now excuse me while I take a few weeks off and then get back to irrationally deconstructing everything you hold dear and reducing it to badly humored fodder.

Your proud son, jc

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