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March 31, 2005

Now what?

Genevieve Labahn

      If youíre anything like me, you remember the day after the election with a wince of pain. You might have stumbled around, as I did, head ringing with grief and a hangover, unable to articulate what you felt in your heart. You might remember how it was a sunny day; and yet, you were cold and numb to the sunís rays. I remember walking to class feeling like my heart had been crushed. There were simply no words to express the amount of raw shock, pain, and sadness I felt. This was worse than 2000- I hadnít even cried then. But I cried now, on the way to class, that cold, sunny morning.

      Many of us felt this way. I donít need to tell you this because Iím sure you saw many fellow distraught liberal friends and colleagues that morning after the loss, with forlorn looks and empty, glazed over eyes. We all seemed to be hanging our heads thinking, ďNow what? What do we do from here?Ē Dealing with this great loss may seem impossible, but I sat down and came up with a list of suggestions for my fellow disheartened liberals on how to cope with the emotional upheaval that resulted from having John Kerry, an American hero, lose to a smirking chimp, George W. Bush:

  1. Donít belittle your feelings.
    Many people have said they feel odd admitting that they feel depressed or unusually sad as a result of the election, but this is nothing to be ashamed of. For many of us, we lived and breathed this campaign, often sacrificing valuable personal time to trek up to New Hampshire at the crack of dawn on a Saturday to campaign. We did phone banking for hours upon hours when we should have been studying for our midterms. The campaign literally became a part of you. The longer you worked with it the more you saw John Kerry and John Edwards as real people and not just as names. This, of course, raises the level of emotional attachment. The grief you feel is real and should be acknowledged- not mocked. If you find yourself unable to shake off this post-election depression, do seek counseling on campus.

  2. Surround yourself with like-minded friends and colleagues.
    Have a Bush-worshipping roommate or friend? Avoid political arguments with these individuals at all costs. The pain is still too fresh to be rational with them; youíll only end up saying something youíll regret later. Of course, if they bait you, they deserve everything they get. But all of this is still emotionally stressing to those in mourning, and I recommend talking with other left leaning friends and associates instead. An excellent place to rant and commiserate with other lefties is at the web site Democratic Underground, which is the largest progressive web page on the net. Or simply show up for the BC Democrats meetings, which prove to be excellent group therapy.

  3. Watch The Daily Show and listen to Air America.
    Jon Stewart feels our pain and provides valuable comic (but perhaps all too surreal) relief, while Mike Malloy of Air America articulates a lot of the rage at the sheer absurdity of the Bush Administration that many of us feel. Listening to Malloy provides a nightly catharsis for the tortured liberal soul; whenever you think your head is going to explode from the madness of this world, listen to Malloy. You can listen to Malloy every weeknight from 10 PM to 1 AM, and Stewart M-Th at 11 PM on Comedy Central. And donít forget to listen to the other great shows on Air America live at AirAmericaRadio.com.

  4. Donít give up.
    It may seem tempting to move to Canada (universal health care, gays can marry, good beer, government not run by religious fundamentalists) given the fact that a majority of Americans voted for a man that was almost killed by a pretzel, but that would be giving up. One of the most inspiring messages of the Kerry/Edwards team was the message of hope. Personally, I truly believed this message and I fully embraced it over the last year. Right now, obviously, that is something hard to do. The situation does seem bleak? the GOP controls the White House, both houses of Congress, and the Supreme Court. However, letís be thankful for term limits: in four years, Bush is out. Until then, take solace in the fact that most of the world is mourning with you. Simply check out sorryeverybody.com to confirm what you probability already know: the rest of the world is also pretty damn depressed that a majority of Americans voted for Bush.

  5. Fight back.
    Embrace your anger. You may feel down now, but sooner or later, youíll wake up one day and realize that youíre seething. The issues that were debated during the campaign still remain and still need to be discussed- the environment, the war in Iraq (and who knows where else), womenís reproductive rights, the assault on the middle class, health care, gay rights? all of these things will be threatened more than ever in the next four years. It is up to us to stand up and defend these issues that we as liberals believe in. The bottom line: donít stop protesting, donít stop caring.

      So there you have it, five easy-to-follow points on how to lick your wounds from this election. I know that Iím not over it? Iím still mad as hell. I could just ignore it all, I could just hibernate from politics for the next three years or so, but that would be the worst thing to do. We lost this time, but if we stop paying attention and stop caring, then weíll lose every time. Itís going to be a rough four years, but weíll get through it. And always remember- when some Bush-voter inevitably starts whining about how he canít find a job out of college, you can always proudly proclaim ďdonít blame me- I voted for Kerry.Ē

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