My Coming November Crackup

I just spoke to my old college friend Roger. We confessed to each other that we cannot wait until this election is over and for Obama to be elected President. We are older men with reasonably good nervous systems tested and toughened by life, death, and everything in-between, and yet this election has been a new high in personal fear and trembling. Our cracks are beginning to show even as it seems more and more likely that the good guys will win. And damn it, we have become more and more fearful and superstitious about expressing that hope for an Obama victory.

We both confessed to waking up real early and heading towards our laptops to check on the latest results in the presidential polls before feeding the cat or making the morning coffee, and finding that there is no Obama lead in Zogby, Rasmussen, USA or CBS large enough to put our fears to rest. A ten point lead? Nothing! What's that to these Republicans, trained from birth to swallow ten points for breakfast with their orange juice and Metamucil? Do we exaggerate their power to find and kill Osama, rig the voting machines, and smear, smear, smear Barack Obama into a narrow defeat all in the course of a single day before the election? Not a bit. We wonder why that power to destroy cannot be put in the service of building the country and working towards economic and social justice. You see, even us older guys can be shamelessly naïve.

Unlike our sons and daughters, we don't take much comfort in the comedians who target the Republicans on SNL and late night TV. We are old enough to remember that Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" didn't laugh the totalitarian governments into defeat, nor was Karl Kraus of Austria or Berthold Brecht's savage satires able to stop the spread of evil in Weimar Europe. Thank you very much Tina Fey, but darling that you are, you are preaching to the converted. The real Sarah Palin doesn't get it -- nor do her rabid followers. And we fear that they see the White House in the sights of their rifles.

We need a twenty point Obama lead tomorrow for us nervous guys to sleep easy. And even that may not do it. We know that such a lead is not likely in our divided country, even in the middle of this dire economic crises. Having seen the devious ways the Republicans operate, we find it impossible to believe that they will not once again pull some Rovian trick that turns our political and personal universe on its head - destroying our hopes for this country and our family's lives for another four years. We suspect the worst, while hoping for the best. And we fear that this country we love is running out of chances.

Our mutual friend and fellow classmate Bob, a fine landscape and city scene painter, just died of melanoma in Maine. Among his last acts was sending in an absentee ballot for Obama, knowing that he would not live to see the results of this election. Like many of my generation he cared about the world that he will not live to see. And damn it, this time, Bob's hopes and ours must not be betrayed. No, forget the crackup, I won't go to France or to pieces if McCain/Palin is elected. I will go out and start working on the next campaign - you see, my generation just won't give up on the old fashioned idea of a democratic government that cares about the least of its citizens. We reject the elitism of the ignorant with it's smears and it's lies which they call patriotism and we call baloney.