Back in the summer of 2002 I was paying attention to the candidates for US President. I was interested in Howard Dean because he was the ONLY one speaking out against the impending war in Iraq. I didn't much like what I heard about his other positions, but a friend and I decided to go to a "meet-up" for Dean and check things out. Over the course of the next few months I converted into becoming a tried and true "Deaniac."
In the end, it wasn't just his stance on the war - or really any other issues that converted me. I got involved in running a meet-up, watched his blog and followed the whole campaign closely. There was something totally different about how he was running for office. Something I'd never seen before in politics, not even when I worked on the Wellstone campaigns. When Dean said "You have the power!" - he meant it. As an example, in facilitating a meet-up, I got materials monthly from the campaign. But they always made sure we knew that these were just suggestions. They wanted US to run the campaign the way we thought was best. If someone at a meet-up came up with one of those, "The campaign should...." We turned it right around and said, "What role do you want to take in getting it done?" We wrote our own letters, planned our own events, developed our own strategies, and the campaign headquarters listened, learned and supported. I had never seen anything like it before.
And then the Clintons, Carvilles, Shrums and Begallas of the world got to work. They did everything they could to discredit the Dean campaign and used a compliant media and the Republicans to take him down, all while convincing folks that Kerry was "electable."
During the winter of 03, I went through a depression. I felt the Democratic Party had betrayed me. And as bad as Bush was, I just couldn't muster my energies to work on behalf of Kerry. Then came the election. And the depression went deeper. HOW COULD THE WORLD STAND ANOTHER 4 YEARS OF BUSHCO??? I spent hours on the Sorry Everybody website, reading and crying (especially when those from around the world came in to console and forgive us).
Then came Katrina, and what can I say? Does depression about the country you once thought you loved know no bounds? I was actually on vacation in Sedona, AZ when it happened. We just sat in our room watching the horror unfold in front of our eyes on tv and tried to still spend time exploring the area. But the trip was ruined and its hard for me to hold any fond memories of Sedona because of that.
Ah well, so many horrors, so little time. One thing after another, and here I am, I can't let go of my desire to try to do something to change things. But there is not a political party out there to latch onto. I don't see any kind of effective movement that inspires me. I feel like we just keep getting fed more and more bs and keep sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss. Or maybe its just that I'm paying more attention than I did before, and we were already there.
Anyway, I'm feeling pretty angry and frusterated today (can you tell?). But that's ok. How many times have I reminded myself of the saying "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention." I think we just have to learn to live with anger. But boy, would it ever feel good to belong to something that I thought was really going to make a difference. Like I did back in the days of the Dean campaign.