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Politics: The Blue State Blues

November 8, 2008

Sing’in the blues is a perfect way to soothe disappointment. Now is the time for Republicans.

If I were a songwriter I would come up with a country and western number to reflect the crying in their beer sentiments that are so pervasive in many areas of the country. Those in the red states are no doubt still wobbling. Residing in ultraconservative Northwest Florida is evidence enough for me that some in former red states are reeling with shock. Not only are they are unhappy with the resounding defeat handed to the McCain/Palin ticket, they also were unable to prevent their state from changing political colors.

44th-presidential-teamAs I have said before: I feel their pain. Not once, but twice, I saw the state of Florida go red for our current President in his elections and Democratic candidates defeated. At least we were told the Democrats were defeated. In the long run there was no avoiding the feelings of despair and disenfranchisement. I was angry and frustrated that there was the appearance of impropriety.

Nonetheless I suffered through eight years of policies which I often found appalling and even troubling at times. Still there was no sincere belief that this nation or I personally had anything to fear. In retrospect, my concern should have justifiably been greater. I have learned that the social prism through which many right-wing Christian conservatives see the world is the basis for their angst rather than politics. I recently heard an older man in a book store remark to his wife: “He’s a Muslim. We gotta have a Christian in the White House. He’s the President of the United States for god’s sake.”

I have to point out that I was literally within spitting distance of the person making this comment and although there was no such impulse, I was struck by the level of intense distress he displayed. Distress focused on the man rather than the national mission. Distress focused on small inconsequential impressions rather than a rational appreciation of the limits of power our government provides. Perhaps the abuses of the current President are the true foundation of such fears. I am at a loss to fully understand the fear.

obama-partyElection night has observed celebrations in the streets from coast to coast in this nation and around the world. These events were the likes of which this nation has never seen in modern times, perhaps never. The President-elect has been congratulated by numerous world leaders and his election is already prompting diplomatic comments which show signs of cooperative promise. Not only that, President-elect Obama has done nothing to suggest that he will not embrace all of the citizens of this nation. It may take some time and some convincing, but he clearly must recognize and be troubled by the polarization which exists following his election.

There is no point in reexamining the many negative catalysts during the campaign which stirred many of the concerns that exist among many Americans on the right. But his attempts to reconcile and to heal America will be interesting to watch. The far right-wing has a component that, even from the most reasonable perspective, can only be characterized as the lunatic fringe. Their unwarranted fears have permeated much of the Republican base as a whole. This is certainly not to say that the far left is not without its zealots. But my experience to-date in talking about the results of the election has been that Democrats are thrilled, but gracious and focused on the possibilities which lie ahead. This does not exact a pound of flesh from Republicans of any persuasion.

So here I sit in the legendary conservative Christian Panhandle of Florida. A former Bush red state has now gone blue and everybody, save a few, has the blues. Admittedly, I snickered a lot the day following the election as I went about my day. But it did not take long before began to feel a significant amount of compassion. Although I do not pretend to understand the narrow and unwavering attitudes of such regions and their citizens, it was nonetheless disappointing at the end of the day.

The political machine, such as it is, has poisoned the well for these people and they are dying a slow and painful emotional result springing from implications that are simply imagined. They were reeled in by the party that only sought to use them again to gain power by using the alchemy of negative emotion. When all was lost, the blind followers were left helpless and racked with fear and anger. What a horrible example of betrayal by leadership and what callous disregard for the emotional sanctity of so many Americans during one of the most difficult periods in the nation’s history.

I imagine and certainly hope that as the coming months and years yield a vision of a bright, diligent and fair minded President that I believe Mr. Obama will be, the impacts of fear will recede. It will take time to address the mountains of problems that this country faces, but it should not take nearly as long to comfort a nation if we are aware of the problem and collectively work to take a reasonable approach to those that are cowering in anticipation of political, if not personal destruction. No doubt, we will all encounter problems in many areas of our lives. For them, this is not just a matter of issues or politics. It is simply too much to digest all at once. They understand the simple impacts of a political defeat. Although they are unhappy with that unto itself, socially there is so much more. It’s as if a right-wing conservative Christian businessman has been told that he has to share an office with a gay, black, atheist, and pacifist…and he’s the office manager! Now extrapolate that measure of trauma across the entire right-wing base in the nation. I’m telling you, it’s the conservative rights’ worst nightmare now realized. They are needlessly concerned, but concerned nonetheless. Why? The political red clay that they trod upon not so very long ago has inexplicably turned blue.

Down here in the Panhandle of Florida and many other parts of the nation they have a big time case of the “Blue State Blues.”

God I wish I could sing.

L. A. Walker, © Leon A. Walker

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