Five minutes later, sitting in class, one of my classmates announced that Kerry had conceded the election less than ten minutes previously.
A friend and campaign buddy of mine found my eyes immediately as she walked into the room. All she did was shake her head. The girl behind me was dressed in all black. "I'm mourning for our country," she said grimly. Still another girl wore a T-shirt with big black letters: "THIS BLOWS."
All the Democrats had the feeling that this wasn't going to go our way, but I think we expected a fight to the bitter end, as we saw in 2000. Such a simple, quiet finish was not what any of us had expected or wanted.
This morning, I was angry. This afternoon, I'm just sad. I have spent the past year living abroad and experiencing firsthand the contempt that the rest of the world has for Americans. I heard from countless people that the entire world was hoping with us yesterday, hoping that we could make a fresh start.
The entire world, it seems, except for our own country.
When I came back home this summer, I had much of the same contempt and cynicism towards Americans as my European counterparts. Mindless sheep being controlled by fear. I was ashamed to be one of them, ashamed to live among them. But then the election race began. Suddenly, I was talking with hundreds of articulate, intelligent people who recognized the dangers of 'four more years' and knew that it was time for a change. As the campaign strengthened - as I watched the debates and saw Michael Moore speak - I began to have hope again. I began to feel that I could once again be proud of my homeland, that we were finally going to make our move and win back the respect of the rest of the world, that America had finally woken up. These past two weeks or so, I wouldn't have wanted to live anywhere else.
And then today, it all got blown to hell.
I can't be proud of this country now. I'm not sure if I will be able to ever again. I'm so disappointed in our citizens that I can barely speak. Everyone who voted for Bush has made the same mistake he himself makes every day - being unable to separate personal values from what is best for the entire country. Republicans ranked 'moral values' as the number one quality for a president - higher than terrorism - while we are at war! This is going to go down in the history books as America's biggest mistake. Not only did we let him weasel away with victory once, but we just handed it to him a second time. What are we doing to our children?
There are pharmacists out there who will now be able to continue refusing to fill women's birth control prescriptions, just because they don't feel like it. There are millions of frozen stem cell samples in fertility clinics that will continue to go to waste while the rest of the world makes breakthroughs - and money - every day. There are soldiers in Iraq who are long overdue to come home and have received nothing certain in the way of news. And within the next four years, I am certain that we will see, if not an overturn of Roe v. Wade, at least a threat of one.
There are numerous women out there who have had abortions in the past, yet now insist that the procedure should be banned. Still others protest stem cell research - but what will they do in twenty years when they themselves need a heart transplant? "No, I'm sorry, I choose to die rather than use the technology that will save my life?" As if. If people were personally affected by these issues, they would be singing a different tune. As it is, these Christians who turned out in such high numbers for Bush are in many cases proving themselves hypocrites.
"THIS BLOWS", indeed. And I'm not the only one who thinks so. I thought I was unique in telling people that I was going to leave the country if Bush won, but it turns out that several of my classmates have been thinking along the same lines - more than one person has been checking into graduate schools in Canada. And when I whispered the unthinkable to a swimming classmate this morning, "You know, it's getting to the point where there needs to be another terrorist attack, to wake people up! That's the only way they'll realize that nothing has changed and that nothing is going to change under this man!", expecting at least a mildly shocked look, she simply looked me in the eyes and said in the same hushed voice, "I totally agree."
So this afternoon, I'm mourning for the death of my country. Our feminist ancestors are spinning in their graves.
It was quiet on campus today. The W supporters walked with a little extra spring in their step, still with their buttons and stickers, while the Kerry supporters quietly removed all paraphernalia and avoided the subject, aside from talking heatedly into cell phones while walking to class.
Not me, though. I wore two of my Kerry buttons for probably the last time ever. As I walked home today, I could tell the Democrats - they looked me in the eye with the sad, resigned smile that's becoming so familiar to me. The Republicans generally had another look, one of derision. I looked right back. Not smiling, not frowning, just looking... and lifting my chin a bit higher each time.
These are excerpts from comments made largely by international bloggers (typos corrected):
"The notion that the majority of Americans are f**king stupid has been confirmed by the apparent way the voting has gone. How could people possibly vote for a man/administration that has gone so so wrong in so many areas? ... Sad day in history."
"Bush is a disgusting simple-minded liar who should be indicted and tried for war crimes. Half our born-again goofball electorate thinks Jesus or God or another imaginary friend helps this pissant cheerleader from Andover with his decisions. This is disgusting."
"This country is very, very hard to understand... Please, somebody out there give me some hope, make me believe that the world's greatest superpower has more to offer ... "4 more years"? Every time I heard that, my heart hurt ... 11 states banning gay marriage, no future in stem cell research and a possible (very possible) draft ... Home of the free?? Are you kidding me?"
"There is something terribly wrong with your country. Why would you vote for four more years of hell?? I will never understand it... but I do know that four years back, people respected America and even sympathized with 9/11. Almost every country has faced some disaster... but they don’t respond by killing in return... Not only does the world not sympathize or respect you anymore, they just laugh at how bullheaded and foolish the majority of your population is."
"Bush played the game of fear, he scared the crap out of everybody, even states that will never be under attack. A quick message to all the white soccer moms who voted for Bush because of terrorism: good luck when your kids get drafted!"