Now what?
Like other bloggers for Kerry (an unorganized group, but we -- mostly -- know who we are), I was stunned by yesterday's election results. Stunned, but not altogether surprised. Here are links to some other political blogs (not necessarily pro-Kerry). Some immediate thoughts:

I agree with much of what Eric Alterman say's about the election, and even moreso with the remarks of his correspondent Charles Pierce:
They showed up.  The Republican base, that is.  The people who believe that their marriages are threatened by those of gay people, the people who believe there were WMD in Iraq and that Saddam waved a hankie at Mohammed Atta, the people who believe His eye is on every embryo.  They all showed up, and there are more of them than there are of us.  This was a faith-based electorate and, for whatever reason, their belief was stronger than our reality.  This is a country I do not recognize any more.
But I think Alterman is on the wrong track when he says "He [Bush] speaks their language.  Our guys don’t.  And unless they learn it, we will continue to condemn this country and those parts of the world it affects to a regime of malign neglect at best—malignant and malicious assault at worse."

Are we supposed to begin claiming Biblical authority for our candidates? Or to say, "Yes, I understand your fear of foreigners"? Or talk about "known knowns and unknown knowns," or garble our grammar in folksy, Bush-y ways? It's their language that we have to avoid. Alter himself goes on in his next sentence to criticise "the media’s talent for pandering to their lowest common denominator," which is just what "talking their language" would amount to.

The change in thinking of that Republican base, and that larger group who voted with them this time, is not going to come from our learning to "speak their language." It is going to come much more painfully, when some of them, and then some more, and finally a critical mass wake up to see that it's all been a lie, that their husbands / wives / brothers / offspring have been killed or maimed in Iraq for no good purpose, that the tax cuts have impoverished them (by making all the formerly public services unavailable while enriching the already rich), that foreigners no longer admire but rather pity them, and that our country commands no respect because it has squandered its power.

What I'm saying is that reality, not rhetoric, is what it will take to shake faith-based politics. The rhetoric at best may help people see the reality a little sooner, but maybe not before they feel it nipping them in the ass.


Picking ourselves up from the mat
Angry? Perplexed? Ready to write fast?

Dear Readers:

The Philadelphia Independent will publish a free national edition reflecting on the presidential campaign and life in America over the next four years. The issue will be released on Friday, November 12. It will be a
full-size broadsheet with an increased print run FREE to the people of Philadelphia and elsewhere. All contents will also be posted online.

We want you to submit writing and original artwork about how you feel about what's happened, and where we might go from here.

Your thoughts needn't be polished so long as they are immediate, honest and address the situation at hand. Our purpose is to get a collective sense of how the city and the country are feeling and reacting, and transmit that to as many as possible as soon as possible.

SUBMIT WRITING: From 20 to 1,000 words. We want eulogies, interviews, essays, reports from the ground, vows, declarations, future plans, calls to action, interviews, accounts of how you voted & why, sequences of stunned expletives, and all other quality ideas and information, whatever you think might speak to everyone else right now. Send them to EDITORS@PHILADELPHIAINDEPENDENT.NET. The big questions that we want answers to are: What went wrong? What happens now? What should we take away from this? But you needn't limit yourself to those.

SUBMIT ARTWORK: Send as a TIFF or JPEG file to EDITORS@PHILADELPHIAINDEPENDENT.NET. Or stop by with a ZIP disk or CD at 1026 Arch Street, 2nd Floor, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Black and white only, please, 300 dpi or greater.

Please forward this email to anyone else who might be interested in contributing.

We know this deadline is a short one, and we thank you in advance for any time you can set aside to reflect and contribute. We're looking forward to reading and sharing your thoughts.


Para escucharme
En el caso remoto de que usted quiera escuchar en español mis comentarios sobre las elecciones en EE.UU. hoy, puede hacerlo en Radio Francia Internacional. Haga clic en el programa de 12h00 - 12h30.


I get to speak out
And speaking of Radio Francia Internacional, I just did the interview (originally scheduled for tomorrow morning) on the coming presidential election. You can listen tomorrow -- it will be broadcast at 12 GMT (7 a.m. here in New York), but should be on the Internet later in the day.
¡Felicidades, Uruguay!
The election of Tabaré Vázquez as president of Uruguay is a tremendous breakthrough for the left of that country. For the first time in 120 years, they've broken he stranglehold of the Blancos (roughly, conservative nationalists) and Colorados (big business interests, more internationalist, and lately under Jorge Batlle very cozy with G. W. Bush). (I'm listening to the report right now on Radio Francia Internacional.
Neither I nor William Safire knows what was on Osama bin Laden's mind when he presented his videotaped message a few days ago, but Safire and I are making very different guesses. In today's column, he claims that Osama was trying to sway us to vote for Kerry, because (according to Safire), "Stay-the-Course" W. is a greater threat to him. Wow! That seems like a really twisted interpretation. Others have argued that Osama would prefer Bush to win, because his aggressive blunders are recruiting thousands more to Osama's banner.

Here's what I think: Osama doesn't care which candidate wins the U.S. presidential election, because he wins either way. Both Kerry and Bush are committed to continuing the war in Iraq, and both have vociferously proclaimed their support for Israel's government no matter how aggressive. These twin policies continue to isolate the U.S. government from its potential allies and make a peaceful transformation of Mideastern societies and economies almost impossible. Thus they are great for al-Qaeda, and fuel Osama & company's Holy War. I think the timing of Osama's message was not to influence the election particularly, but simply his awareness that he would get maximum attention at a time when the two parties were trying to talk about other things (health care, threats to social security and the environment, jobs, etc.). "Hey, guys, I'm still here! And you're going to have to deal with me, like it or not."
Ghouls & goblins for Kerry!
At least, that was the message of many of the revelers in last night's Halloween Parade up 6th Avenue (a.k.a. Avenue of the Americas) in Greenwich Village. One float featured a mammoth Uncle Sam doll spanking a George W. Bush doll, and other fiendishly-costumed creatures were, contrary to type, carrying signs opposing death and bloodshed in Iraq or elsewhere. Clearly these were but fake ghouls and goblins; the real ones are in the White House.

Tomorrow is the Day of the Dead (a.k.a. All Soul's Day). I am hoping that the spirits of all those who created America's great liberal tradition -- George Washington, Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Abigail Adams, Sojourner Truth, Abraham Lincoln, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and all the others -- will rise from their graves to guide voters that day, lest we all tumble into a dark and hellish cave.