The Fatted Calf

In the center of Orange — at the circle where Chapman and Glassell intersect — a cadre of protestors stood with signs denouncing the war and plaques calling on us to Beat Bush. At the weekly Two Idiots Peddling Poetry Reading, just down the street, there were long faces. Except those of me, my wife, and Little Bob. All of us Democrats. All of us Kerry supporters. All of us unashamed.

I believe I saw some Republicans. They walked or drove past the circle where the protestors stood. All frowned. They saw me outside of the Ugly Mug smiling. Why? I had no reason to feel ashamed. I did what I could to support John Kerry, as much as my sickness allowed. I felt no animosity towards those who gave less because they had to work or were unemployed or unmotivated. Most importantly of all, I had not been silenced.

At the reading, I began my open mike time by singing the first verse of a classic Quaker hymn:

My life goes on in endless song

above earth’s lamentations,

I hear the real, though far-off hymn

that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife

I hear it’s music ringing,

It sounds an echo in my soul.

How can I keep from singing?

How could I keep from singing? In the bilges to which the Republicans had thrown me, a melody rose in my heart. I began the day angry. As I continued, as I read the convoluted explanations for the exit polls, the blame put on bloggers — as I saw the joylessness in the faces of the Republicans who had run a dirty campaign founded on lies and a rejection of Christian charity and freedom against a hero — I suddenly knew that I had every reason to feel unashamed. In this close election, a mandate still eluded George W. Bush. With the continued doubts about the Republican strategy of voter disenfranchisement and perhaps outright ballot box stuffing, they had failed to secure their place. They will win votes, they will stuff the Supreme Court, but they will remain terrified and afraid. The war on terror will continue inside of them every time they sit down at their dinner tables, every they see a liberal smile, every time they see a sign boldly proclaiming that America remains un-united.

I feel sorry for them. They are devastated because their own politics does not allow them satisfaction. There must always be more in their life, bigger things, a profit turned. We have not gone away and they cannot say that they speak for America because the election shows that the nation remains deeply divided in the middle of a war going nowhere.

I feel like the parent or the brother or the child of a drug addict. The drug is fear. Today the Right woke up, one more time, in the vomit it spewed all over the rest of us. Today, the Right has a hangover and a guilt complex because deep down they know the election was not clean. When they call me a whining liberal, I will smile and I will pity them because already whatever joy they might have had from winning this election is fading. They did not eliminate me or any of the other millions who stood up these last few days. They may actually be the minority.

About twelve years ago, I said to some shocked friends that America needs about ten years of dictatorship to learn a few lessons about the meaning of freedom. We’re four years into that dictatorship. I call it a dictatorship because so much has happened to break the faith of too many people in our democratic institutions. That is the essence of dictatorship, loss of faith in our ability to govern and guide our leaders. But I have not lost faith in myself. And I believe that ultimately, even here in the Darkness of the Orange, though we will never make a perfect world, we will see the folly of these times. I am smiling. I am not the addict. It’s not my vomit all over the country. Stone-cold sober, I smile and I keep my hand out to the Right. To them I say You can recover from this sickness you bring upon yourself. When it comes time for them to take that hand and come home to America, I will kill the fatted calf.

10 Comments so far

  1. rus steel (unregistered) on November 4th, 2004 @ 11:06 am

    Yeah, I drove through the Plaza last night. I wasn’t frowning, though. Just chuckling to myself at all the healing.

  2. Joel Sax (unregistered) on November 4th, 2004 @ 2:40 pm

    Oh, it’s the same old same old:

  3. Joel Sax (unregistered) on November 4th, 2004 @ 4:31 pm

    Common Cause has issued a report on the Election based on preliminary reports of eight hour long waits in lines, misplaced absentee ballots, and continuing problems with registration.

    More at:

  4. No One of Consequence (unregistered) on November 5th, 2004 @ 11:46 am

    Dear Joel,

    Please. If nothing else, can we please drop the MEANINGLESS point that, “a mandate still eluded George W. Bush”? If even his slight majority vote does not consitute a mandate, do you concede that Clinton therefore spent his entire presidency without a popular mandate?

    Do you consider the 59% to 61% majority vote that Reagan, Nixon, and Johnson enjoyed, a “mandate”? Or do they need even more than that for a “popular mandate”? But if sub-50% is absolutely NOT a mandate, then even Kennedy didn’t have your inconsequential “mandate”.

    It’s just pointless to continue with that arguement.

  5. Ontario Emperor (unregistered) on November 6th, 2004 @ 11:42 pm

    Agreeing with the above, and wondering just what would be a satisfactory definition of a mandate. One would think that Nixon got a mandate in 1972, but his departure in 1974 obviously contradicts THAT assertion. One would think that Saddam Hussein got a mandate in HIS last election, but we know what happened after that.

    Let’s just face the fact that NOBODY has ever received a mandate. Not either Bush, not Clinton, not Reagan, Carter, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, nobody.

    Well, MAYBE Washington and Monroe.

  6. Evil Conservative (unregistered) on November 8th, 2004 @ 2:57 pm

    This is far too funny. Thanks for the laughs. I have to agree with “no one of consequence” on this one. Drop the “stole the election” babble already, and for crap sake, quit crying when interviewed by the media. You people make this country look like the biggest land of pussies every time you whimper and cry about losing an election. No wonder these little sand dwellers have decided to attack, they see a TV screen full of whining, whimpering, crying American “cowards” and figure we are a push over.

    Get on with life, hand the tissue box back to mommy and daddy, and grow up. Friggin, squalling little children. Hopefully you feeble and frail children will learn how to finally stand on your own two feet and not have to have your hand out for the next 4 years.

  7. Michael Doss (unregistered) on November 8th, 2004 @ 11:24 pm

    Evil Conservative,

    Feel free to be polite, here and at my weblog. Thanks!

  8. anon (unregistered) on November 12th, 2004 @ 4:01 pm

    “I smile and I keep my hand out to the Right”

    Ummm…yeah. After you insult and degrade me, you hold out your hand in friendship?

    Let me tell you something that is very, very hard to accept: there are people out there who have different opinions as you. It’s true. There’re not stupid or evil. They just believe differently. And you going around insulting them isn’t going to bring them to your point of view.

    I notice in your writings that you can’t say something positive about your beliefs without saying something negative about others. You essentially define yourself by your opposition.

    So if we did go away, you would be nothing.

  9. Michael Doss (unregistered) on November 12th, 2004 @ 4:04 pm


    Strong words from someone too afraid to say who they are, even with a first name or non-tracable email address.

  10. No One of Consequence (unregistered) on November 16th, 2004 @ 9:57 am


    I scoured the archives and I noticed that MRHOOKS slipped under your radar in September. Granted he wasn’t disagreeing with this blog’s politics, but it seems only fair to jump on everyone who chooses to protect their anonymity.

    I think ANON made a good point and have felt that way about Joel’s writing for a long time. He chooses to be very impolite, both here (referring to Bush voters as, fascist, Nazi sympathizing, louts, and wRong) and on his own web site. He proclaims his outstretched hand and friendly smile then writes about the utter contempt he holds for every second person in the country. I’ve disagreed with him in the past and he banned me from his blog. That doesn’t seem like a smile and hand held out. Of course, Joel’s gesture is qualified to those on the Right, and I don’t count myself among them.

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