Is It Over?

Commentary: In Exile

I sometimes fear that the Republican Party, like children who set fire to their toys rather than share with their siblings, might choose to destroy the United States rather than allow John Kerry the presidency.

So I write this not only on Election Eve, but quite possibly on the eve of Armageddon, as well. Perhaps Karl Rove will have exploded, a live feed of which would be reason enough to vote for Kerry. Dick Cheney will have turned to salt. George Bush, unsure of the definition of “litmus,” will have blamed it on a litmus test. Condoleezza will have removed her latex mask to reveal a male Caucasian, surprising no one.

A few decades ago, the New York Daily News ran on its front page the headline, FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD. The president, on national television, had just informed the city of New York, which was in fiscal crisis and literally caving in on itself, that it could shrivel and die as far as America was concerned. The hostility of the speech was remarkable. New York was singled out as a pariah, characterized as an irresponsible junkie who would not be benefiting from any sort of touchy-feely intervention from its neighboring citizens.

During the debates, Bush basically did the same thing to my home state, Taxachusetts, punting it around the stage like a fratboy bashing a queer to impress his friends. If Kerry were from New York City, Bush would have engaged in the same sort of bashing, but with a New York theme, though he would have had to qualify each snide remark with his condolences for our recent losses, inflicted by those who hate freedom.

This election was about the Heartland. Bush made it so, and Kerry was forced to follow suit, donning army fatigues and cutting his hand on a rifle like a total poseur. For the past several months, we city dwellers, normally accustomed to assuming that we are the only people in America that matter, have not mattered. New York, D.C., Boston — we’ve basically been told to drop dead.

Fine. As gays, we’re pretty used to it, which is why it was so strange to hear Edwards and then Kerry both bring up Mary Cheney during the debates. Forget the “Is Mary fair game?” question for just a few moments. The very fact that she — that we — warrant mention in two out of four election debates is fairly punk rock. On the scale of relevant issues, we gays may not be Health Care or Defense, but we’re certainly The Environment. We may even be Campaign Finance, and we blow Tort Reform right out of the water.

But here’s something to consider. If Kerry lost on Tuesday, we might have some explaining to do. Getting married in the senator’s home state to the shock and awe of swing voters across the country in an election year, adding two-dollar gallons to the conservatives’ fire and brimstone, helping the president lodge the phrase “activist judges” solidly into the national lexicon — like it or not, we probably made Kerry’s campaign just a teensy bit more prone to failure than it would have been if we’d just kept our mouths shut and gone to Vermont for our benign little marriagettes till 2005.

If Kerry just won, however, then reverse it. The guy from the state that lets its gays get married, and the state that will undoubtedly be the first to allow dog owners to marry their dogs once the slippery slope gets us there, just managed to get elected president of what is largely a very conservative country. If this happens, I say we go for man-dog marriage right away, then masturbation education in schools, and then tort reform.

More scenarios: If Bush just won, the Democratic party should disband and reassemble under a different name. It would be time for, as Kerry would say, a fresh start. A loss against such a profound failure of a president would be irreparable. It would mean that the party should accept that it will probably never win again, especially in the face of a war on terror that, we’ve been informed, will continue until every terrorist on every planet in the universe is dead.

If Kerry just won, however, the Democratic Party is the best party ever. Or, Option C, it’s now several days post-election and we still don’t know who won. Fox News is calling it for Bush, Dan Rather is saying he’s got Microsoft Word documents from 1947 proving that Kerry’s the clear winner.

The sadistic side of me hopes for Option C, partially for the drama and partially because I’m addicted to election coverage and don’t want it to stop. Another Florida 2000 could drag it out nicely till January.

But if I had to guess, I’d say the Republicans are going to take it home tomorrow. They’re meaner and more duplicitous, and in the end, in my glass-is-mostly-empty point of view, that often gets you a win. I’m convinced that those touch-screens in Florida were rigged, that eligible Dems were turned away at the polls or intimidated into not showing up. Four years of this administration has ratcheted my cynicism up even beyond its originally high levels. I hope that events on Tuesday transpired to bring it back down, but if you’re reading this and the country hasn’t been blown to hell by a Republican tantrum, it’s probably because they’re still in the Oval Office, plotting their next move.

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