Can the Left Come To Terms With Bush's Second Term?

11.5.2004 | David L. Steinhardt | National Affairs | 9 Comments

The cabdriver’s name was OBERT ECCI, the part of it I could see, at least. “It’s been dead tonight,” Obert said. “People are all so depressed.” I tipped, a luxury since the recent fare hike.
Wednesday night in Manhattan, hours after Kerry’s concession.
Overtired, stunned, giddy, horrified, thrilled, people had returned to work, to get through what had to be done in search of a moment to reflect, to reckon. That night, everyone I knew seemed to be torn between catching up on sleep and just being together.
I subwayed to the Anti-Slam, Rev. Jen’s weekly open mic, newly at home at Collective:Unconscious, on the Lower West Side.
“I feel like I’m under occupation!” Eric Kirchberger told the audience. “Whatever they hate: that’s what I’m going to be. I’m gonna be a gay married abortionist!”
Kirch, a Premium Blend comic who pays three bucks to have six to eight minutes with this crowd of mostly fellow performers, always hits on a lot of levels.
Eleven statewide initiatives banning gay marriage passed this week, a poignant example of political blowback. A night of one-party rule and homophobia is a pretty scary arch to pass through on the way to a Bush administration unhindered by anxiety over reelection.
(His pappy all but promised an invasion of Cuba in his aborted second term — will this be its time, or will that pleasure be saved for Jeb?)
All jokes aside, I don’t want to be defined by this administration.
Instead, I’m trying to respond to this election by unhypnotizing myself. Election Night, I bunkered between computers and cable networks, vainly attempting to exert control over the uncontrollable like a baseball fan willing a ball fair or foul. Tonight at a house party, the filmmaker Dana Lee Cohen showed a rough cut of a documentary she’s already produced of an election night performance party at another Downtown island of experimental theater and politics, Bowery Poetry Club. The film is culled from hours of energized defiance responding to the night’s news that the Bush administration won’t be going away anytime soon.
Hitting the streets after an evening that included Kirch at the anti-slam and Ms. Cohen’s rough cut, I just couldn’t fit into Obert’s formulation: I’m not depressed.
Sartre wrote that he and his friends never felt so free as when they were under occupation. Everyone knew what they believed, rendering neurosis sillier than usual. The people I see, one day into the knowledge of the third Bush administration, are snapping to attention like nobody’s business.
We’re going to be OK.

I have always preferred Camus to Sartre. Complete and total resistance. An end to all collaboration. This is the only nation in the world where the opposition calls for unity with and it makes me sick.
Let them be unified with the hicks. It's time for civilized people to fight, while there is some atom of civilization left.
Hear hear!

I paraphrase Sartre only to remind that resistance need not be depressing; it can and ought to be focusing and invigorating, if horribly sad and terrifying.
11.5.2004 | David L Steinhardt
To CC Ulysses, I can only reply that you, sir, are an ignorant and debased hack, with no grasp whatsoever on Camus' great strength and vision. To compare the US to the Nazis, to misunderstand resistance so fundamentally is appalling. I wish TB on you and yours; perhaps with it will come insight, but I wish it on you regardless.
11.5.2004 | Costant Contankerous
Yes, *We're* going to be okay, provided that by "we" you mean the inhabitants of Neanderthal Nation (comprised of bloody red and mourning blue states, the latter of which really ought to secede) run by a cowboy who thinks that because weapons are available, they should be used.

Mark my words: W will nuke someone (in all likelihood Iran), before his four years of unrestrained power are up. What's to stop him? He withdrew from the ICC, and he can't be re-elected. He'll call it a "last resort", and nuke away. What, you may well ask, is my evidence for this outrageous claim?

I was in Hiroshima at the end of May, and at the Atom Bomb Museum there is a wall covered with steel plaque replicas of letters written by Hiroshima's mayors in response to every single nuclear test conducted by any nation since 1945. On that wall, the latest entry was a letter written on May 26, 2004 from the current mayor of Hiroshima to George W. Bush, who had just conducted yet another nuclear test in Nevada. No one can tell me that Bush will not use nukes. The Cold War is over. There is no reason in the world to be developing and testing new nukes today. But W is doing it, and Paul Wolfowitz and company cannot wait to turn Iran into a parking lot.

Mark my (depressing) words: *We* will be okay, but the rest of the world will pay for this tragic mistake.
11.5.2004 | ts brock
Gee willikers! Suggest one little contrast between Camus and Sartre and you are hit with a salvo of Attic heroes, the Nazis and a rather painful affliction on me and mine. I guess criticism really is like a rorschach test. In such bad form too, considering he addressed nothing of Mr. Steinhardt's article.
Mr. Steinhardt, for me, this points very much to how not ok we are. I understand what you meant by your reference to Sartre, and I understand that we should try and not be gripped by depression. I just think it is not the time for the opposition to be a good sport or do what is good for the nation. And I am correct in saying that the US is the only nation in the world where this happens.
Overall I think the level of rage that your characters display is not only rational, warranted and justified, but it is mild compared at what would happen in other parts of the democratic world. .
Good sport?

Oh, no, you misinterpret, dear Mr. Constantus (whom I certainly home will never be Consumptive Constantine Constantus).

I write of being so energized by the necessity of defiance that depression is too bourgeois a luxury to become enamored of!

I understand that folks need to mourn the loss of hope that we might have a decent government these next four years. But the Bushies are working fast, so we need to too.

And that, I hope, will be fun, should we survive it.
11.6.2004 | David L Steinhardt
Unfortunately, the people who really need to be unhypnotized will continue to drink beer on their porches and belch, completely ignorant of world opinion and the atrocities committed in their name by the Bushies.

Shouldn't a recognition of the reality of how Bush won be a cause for severe depression? Or should I be happy that I am not one of the millions of U.S. citizens who voted against their own interests, completely hypnotized by the lies passed off by the media as "news".
11.10.2004 | KC
Not to worry, TS Brock - Bush won't have to nuke Iran - instead he has something even more vile and sinister cooked up for the mullahs
11.13.2004 | Caius Marcius
Ah yes, it all comes back to me now, the title of that bestseller, you know, the one that hit all the lists back in the fall of 2002:

"They'll welcome us with flowers..."

Iran will be chapter 2 of this epic struggle between the forces of Good and Evil, a story sure to change the political (and, coincidentally, the economic) contours of the world in which we live, at the bargain price of--oh that's right, I remember, there won't be any casualties:
11.15.2004 | ts brock

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