November 01, 2004

The Man From Tomorrow

Ever since late July of last year, my morning ritual has been slightly different than it had been for the preceeding 29 years of my life. The daily routine of bludgeoning the snooze button, grabbing a shower, ironing some clothes that I know I should have ironed when they were hot out of the dryer, and packing up for my day had one very distinctive new process.

I pinned a blue button with the words "Howard Dean for America" to my chest.

Tomorrow, my routine will return to what it was seven months ago. And a not insignificant part of me will have died in the process.

Now, I'm sure many of you out there think that the previous sentence is the kind of hyperbole that all writers are practically addicted to when describing their emotional state. And, of course, there's a modicum of truth to that. I'm only recently becoming aware just how much my love for the taste of clever words in my mouth has chilled some friendships & relationships, and earned me the lovely title of "judgemental arsehole" on more than one occasion.

And maybe that's why I love Howard Dean. Because, quite honestly, he and I have alot in common.

Even though I'm someone who prides myself on being tactful (which is often quite easy when placed in relief next to some of my intentionally tactless immediate relatives who shall remain nameless), there are so many things that I cannot NOT say. And things like that are hard to swallow for alot of people, no matter how much sugar you sprinkle on them.

Personally, I never had much of a sweet tooth. I tend to prefer the taste of salt. Or red meat. And, let's be honest: isn't protein and iron better for you than sugar?

Dean was, more than any other person in public life that I can even think of, the guy who wasn't just willing to tell you the truth you didn't want to hear. Dean LOVED to tell you the truth that you absolutely HAD to hear. The truth that your life depended on.

The truth that, when you run the numbers, NO ONE in the middle class really got a tax cut. The truth that, even though there may actually have been a legitimate national security argument to justify invading Iraq, Bush held it in his back pocket in the hopes you'd all swallow his fear-mongering line of bovine excrement rather than doing the hard work of honest persuasion. The truth that Bush thinks Ken Lay and Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are better at spending your money than either you OR the Federal government, so we might as well just give it to them because we would only blow it to feed our $2000/month perscription Lipator habit like the degenerate junkies that we are.

Yes, all of these truths were self-evident. But only Howard Dean had the (yes, I'm going to say it) balls to actually say it.

On National TV. Loudly.

Someone with the strength of his convictions, demanding that everyone actually acknowledge that the President has no clothes.
That is leadership. Governing in the absence of fear. THAT is what I wanted in the White House.

But morale backbone was just a gateway drug.

The real intoxicant Dean sold was America itself.

Not this paranoid army of exploited Wal-Mart drones being mass produced by a cabal of elitist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, inbred, dyslexic sock puppets too stupid to realize that they're putting their own heads on the pikes of the starving masses by bankrupting the country to stay in power. Not that America.

Dean showed us jaded Americans the America Thomas Jefferson wrote about in the Declaration of Independence - the America where regular people not only had a say in what their world looked like, but where they actually cared about what happened to their neighbor. Where the government was an instrument they all created to pool their resources and better their lives. Where they were able to fulfill the blessings of their own liberty and everyone had a stake in making sure that everyone else succeeded.

He showed us the America that Haitian refugees see when they try to ride a rowboat across the Atlantic for a better life. The America that South Asian immigrants see when they sell themselves into virtual slavery just for the chance to ride on a shipping container to the New World.

Dean showed us, for the briefest of seconds, The Land of Opportunity. The place where everything is possible.

He showed us The Future.

We used to call it the American Dream.

And he showed it to us in a way that made us all kind of slap our foreheads and say "what was I thinking? OF COURSE THIS IS WHAT I REALLY WANT!!"

I'm reminded of a speech the late Richard Harris gave in Gladiator about Rome:

"There was once a dream that was Rome. You could only whisper it. Anything more, and it would vanish. It would disappear. It was that fragile."

And yes, part of that dream died today. The part where Dr. Howard Brush Dean III, the former governor of the State of Vermont, becomes the President of the United States in the year 2004.

But, then again, not even Moses got to go to the promised land.

And yes, today, there is mourning for the death of that part of the dream.

But there are 640,000 people in mourning today.

We've all tasted the dream, and we're all still hungry.

The campaign for the White House may be done, but, if I can quote KRS-One:

"We will be here forever.

Do you understand me?


For ever and ever.

And ever and ever.