Thursday, November 09, 2006

What the heck do I do now?!?

I walked into the language school with my head held high. I had plenty of reasons to chalk the day up as a bad one before it began. I was on three hours of sleep, a plethora of homework assigned to me remained where I left it the day before: unfinished in my backpack. I had a killer headache but along with that headache, the biggest smile on my face. It took coming to Bolivia to taste a flavor I had never once known in my young career: sweet oh so sweet victory.

I never in a million years would have believed it was a sentence in English I would have the most difficulty understanding, but days later, here I am, still trying to break it down and process it. ¨We won¨ I heard the Democratic correspondent announce on the television. ¨CNN predicts the Democrats will control the house.¨ It was about 1 AM Bolivian time as I pounced out of my chair. Victory, overwhelmingly obvious victory. I jumped out of my seat, the only person in the language school this late at night, screaming and howling, jumping up and down, screaming expletive after expletive, mostly along the lines of ¨no _____ way!¨ I wanted to do something but I did not know what to do. I felt like I needed to call another progressive older than me and through excited cheers ask the question I was dying to get an answer to: what the hell do I do now?

I have voted in every election I ever could since I was 18 and never once known what this victory tasted like. I grew up with a Republican Congress and have spent about 25% of my life under the rule of George Bush Jr. 65% of my life under a Republican president. I had heard stories of a once great political time. Bobby Kennedy and protests for human rights regardless of skin color that provided tangible and inspiring results. But these tales were nothing more than a history so far removed from me that they felt like nothing more than fiction. This was the life of progressives in a generation before me, my progressive life has been much more dim.

I have been declared unpatriotic by nationalists(keep in mind I had a flag on my car before 9/11) for refusing to support the war in Iraq from the start. Click this link and read the list of dead. I challenge everyone to read the ages and profiles of some of these men and women while keeping in mind this does not include the thousands of civilian deaths and Iraqi security forces, refered to by the government as CASUALTIES (what is so casual about it?) of war.

Year after year, I felt my Catholic values being undermined by the Religious Right and a few crazy bishops in my own church, and this year I finally had the courage to declare he´s my God too damn it, so give him back! Anti Death Penalty, anti war, anti poverty, pro climate change for the good of my grand kids (even if it hurts the fortune 500 company down the road), pro working wage and all, he might be on your side as you say with abortion, but how dare you deny he is not with me and those issues as well.

And so friends, the Democrats have won the house and the Senate. We have the first woman as Speaker of the House in the history of our great nation. A war hawk void of wartime service has resigned (or been forced out, however you want to break it down). Hard to admit, but I will miss some of Rummy´s greater press briefing moments (known unknowns, etc...) I read what the Democrats are planning to do, what they are calling their first 100 hours plan, and what a joy it is...

* bringing in rules to break links between lobbyists and legislators
* enacting all the 9/11 Commission recommendations on domestic security, for example on port security
* raising the minimum wage
* expanding stem cell research
* limiting spending by requiring budget offsets for any new spending
In the longer term, Democrats have ambitions to tackle big issues like health care, domestic security, climate change, and the budget deficit.¨

Who knows in the long term what will happen. I have learned to be cynical, to not get my hopes up. Even before the election, I got in a disagreement with my conservative father: he said the Dems would take the house, I said John Kerry´s stupid mouth was just one more way for us to screw ourselves. But here I am, fresh off victory and still in need of advice from any progressives who have felt victory before, what the hell do I do now!?! How do I celebrate? It is so foreign, so incredibly, deliciously, oh so damn sweet and foreign! For now, a glass of wine and tonight, dreams of Barrack Obama for President in 2008.

I like to avoid partisanship with the blog, but the experience and the emotions and everything was simply too much too ignore writing about!


Anonymous said...

lol, so I love and agree with everything you said, I do I really do, except for the last part. I am sorry my friend but my allegiance stays with the women and I am going to have to say: "Hilary Clinton for 2008!" Don't get me wrong I love Obama, but frankly I have been chanting "Hilary for 2008!" since the day Clinton left the office, and although I already know what the outcome may be...I cannot turn my back on a belief I have had for so many years already :).

Jenny said...

Hey Pat! It's Jenny. Fellow volunteer, it's so good to read your blog -- I'm totally a subscriber.

I too am ecstatic about the Democrats AND Nancy Pelosi (a happy feminist's heart have I)!

What do you do now? Well, just wanted to let you know about another exciting Democratic victory that you should keep an eye on. Deval Patrick (D) just won the governorship of Massachusetts and is only the SECOND black governor in the history of the United States.

And, by the way, he is a close family friend of ours! My Dad met Deval after law school, and he and my mother set Deval up on a blind date with the woman who is now his wife!

My little sister Jackie went to Deval's victory party in Boston, stood on stage as Deval gave his speech, and was just a few feet away as John Kerry gave his speech congratulating Deval at the event. I think my parents are going to fly out to Boston for the Governor's inaugural ball. It is all so surreal, and makes me so happy to think about as I slog through this difficult year of volunteering.

So, what can you do now? Keep an eye out for Deval Patrick. He could join Barack Obama as another Democratic superstar we can support.

Miss you Pat! Jenny H.