What’s next for the other 48%

Last Wednesday morning I felt depressed, sad and nauseous as the reality of the election began to sink in. Republicans were calling in to NPR to say things like, "We are pro-life, pro-gun, and Bush best represents our moral values." That made me angry enough to stomp on two "Bush/Cheney" yard signs.

As the day went on, Reuters reported a hike in crude oil prices in anticipation of the Bush administration raising the amount of U.S. oil reserves. Also, an Associated Press article reported that the Bush administration was announcing that they were "out of maneuvering room to manage the government’s massive borrowing needs" and that Congress will need to raise the debt ceiling by $690 billion, despite Bush’s campaign promise to cut the deficit in half in the next four years. And the New York Times reported that within days the U.S. military would engage in a massive attack against insurgents in Falluja — all of this less than 24 hours after the election, and all of it endorsed by those 52 percent who voted for Bush the night before.

On Thursday afternoon, tired of feeling so much bitterness, I tried wrestling with the idea of acceptance, but ended up with nothing but more nausea. It wasn’t until Friday night that I began to feel normal again and that a real sense of acceptance starting taking root.

I’ve talked to many people this last week who went through a very similar cycle of emotions, especially members of the gay community, who seem to have felt everything I did, except multiplied by a hundred.

Now, let’s assume that those e-voting machines – despite the fact that over a thousand problems were reported – are accurate and that not a single vote was lost or stolen or miscalculated. We have to assume and accept, as hard to swallow as it is, that the government we have is the government that 52 percent of U.S. citizens voted for and that this is an accurate and democratic representation of the majority of the populace.

I believe that we have to accept this idea because, even if the election was stolen, there is nothing that we will be able to do to unseat the ideologies of this Republican administration until 2008, if ever. But this doesn’t mean that we (the other 48 percent, that is) have to give up, move to another country, or shoot ourselves in the head, as one distraught young man from Georgia did after learning of Bush’s reelection on Saturday. (To the Republicans’ way of thinking, that means one less liberal vote in 2008).

I believe there are many ways of remaining proactive and protesting beyond stating our opinions and voicing our disenfranchisement, though those are a good start.

Here’s what I’m doing: I am closing my accounts at Wells Fargo after learning that they are ranked fourth among private institutions contributing money to political campaigns; I have cut up my credit cards; and I plan to consume those products made by big corporations also contributing money to political campaigns as little as possible.

Do I expect this to make a big difference? No. Is it naive? Perhaps. But I am powerless over politics and my government is unmanageable. I have to do whatever I can to feel a little more in control.

We make decisions everyday that have very real repercussions and I believe that we can make a difference here. If everyone makes one small sacrifice each day it would add up to a big change in the way that this country functions and thinks. I believe we have a duty to show that 52 percent of U.S. citizens, and the rest of the world, that there are conscientious people in this country who will stand up and fight for what they believe in. And keep this in mind: We only have to change the minds of three percent of the people in the United States to change the tide.

A.J. Jackson can be reached at [email protected]