Now I know what people mean when they say they’ll always remember what they were doing when John F. Kennedy was shot.

For me and at least 56 million other Americans, watching John Kerry’s concession speech last week was also a profound, shared trauma that marked the end of an era.

In a way -- and I’ll go ahead and say this, because we’re all past the phony patriotic posturing now -- it may prove an even greater trauma than 9/11.

America had little chance of preventing that tragedy. But this election was different. We had plenty of warning.

Kerry’s farewell speech signalled my own final farewell to the secular, tolerant America I grew up in -- a nation that led by example, one that knew its strength was its diversity, one that people wanted to come to, not leave from.

As Kerry spoke, I saw the country of my birth recede into the horizon, as if I was beginning a long voyage from which I’d never return. It was a painful, bittersweet goodbye for both of us -- maybe for you, too.

I’ve come full circle from the day my grandparents left Greece for America, never looking back. They closed a chapter in their lives for good that day almost a hundred years ago, and now I must somehow do the same.

My fifteen-year-old daughter isn’t quite ready to give up the fight. She’s mad as hell. She’ll be OK.

My lasting sadness is for my six-year-old, who never really knew the live-and-let-live America I grew up in. She also wanted Kerry to win, but not because of anything I said. With the wisdom of a child, she said she wanted Kerry to win because it was only fair that someone else should have a turn.

When I broke the news to her, she was briefly disappointed -- and I do mean briefly -- then she simply went on with getting ready for school. For her, the sun had not set forever. It had just risen. That was a good lesson for me, and I think of it often now.

Life will resume its familiar pattern soon, and the Democrats will one day rise from the dead. They always do.

But right now my mind simply cannot process the thought that this election was apparently decided not on 9/11 or the economy or Iraq or terrorism -- but on keeping the faggots from getting married. I’d rather believe the voting machines were rigged than to believe such a thing.

I’m afraid the apocalypse has just begun. The great white fundamentalist nation -- the same good Christian folk who gave us Prohibition and Jim Crow -- has awakened from its long slumber. And after delivering Bush’s margin of victory, it won’t be lulled back to sleep with a little thing like a gay marriage ban.

Their War on Terror will not be waged on the common American enemy of Osama Bin Laden and al Qaeda. Those guys attack big cities. You know, where the liberals live. No biggie.

The upgraded War on Terror 2.0 will instead focus on the “Hollywood elite,” the “Godless secularists,” the “baby-killers,” the “foul-mouthed rap fans,” and that old favorite, the “liberal media.”

Of course, those are just new code words for the same groups fundamentalists in this country have feared and hated since day one.

It’s not about gays. It was never about gays. Half the conservatives I know are in the closet anyway.

Gays are just the canaries in the coal mine. The first tickets to Auschwitz were the pink triangle shoulder patches, not the yellow Stars of David.

It’s worked the same way for years, all over the world: When a right wing government gets the green light to crack down on homosexuals and other “degenerates,” then it can go after the groups it really wants to get rid of: Liberals, labor unions, professors, scientists, immigrants, blacks, Jews.

It’s an old story, as old as politics itself. As Chris Rock says: “That train’s never late!”

So prepare for creationism in the schools, racial profiling and censorship -- while Iraq burns and the debt rises. Prepare for forced school prayer, illegal abortions and labeling environmentalists as terrorists -- while the real terrorists plot the next attack.

But if most of America time-warped back to 1850 last week, something different happened here at home.

John Kerry won Chatham County easily. With new chairman Pete Liakakis and new commissioner Pat Shay, Chatham now has a Democratic majority on the county commission to go along with Savannah’s Democratic majority on city council. And Savannah has a new Democratic congressman, John Barrow.

Only time will tell if that thin blue line can accomplish anything in this deep red state. But Pete Liakakis himself says it best: “When God closes one door, another one opens.” A new local majority now has a real opportunity to make our own backyard a better, more progressive place for all our citizens.

As for me, I won’t be bashing the president in these pages anymore. I’m as tired of writing that stuff as most of you are of reading it.

Instead I’ll concentrate my words where they can make a difference, here at home. I’ll work with others of like mind to try and accomplish locally what we clearly cannot do nationally.

You’ll hear no more whining from me. From here on out, I’m Mr. Go With the Flow. When the run-up to the next war kills our ad sales, like in 2003, I’ll just whistle a happy tune and be thankful I don’t work on commission.

When someone I know finds out a family member has Alzheimer’s, I’ll put my hand on their shoulder and say, “I hear the Europeans are really doing a lot with stem cell research.”

When someone says her fifty-year-old reservist husband just got called up for a year or two in Iraq, I’ll tell her eBay has some great deals on body armor.

And when one of my conservative family members finds out their son is gay, I’ll joke, “Well, at least you’ll never have to pay for a wedding.”

Ah, yes, life is already returning to normal. In fact, better than normal.

I no longer watch the news hoping the next tragedy will be the big development that finally wakes America up. I no longer watch the news, period.

I’ve got more important things on my mind these days than national politics. I’ve got a life to live. This weekend I celebrate ten years with my dear wife Sonja, for whom I would gladly endure a lifetime of really bad presidents.

So have fun with my country, you zany, madcap Bush people out there. It’s all yours now.

Try not to screw it up too bad. I’ll be back for it one day -- probably sooner than you’d like.

Jim is editor--in-chief of Connect Savannah.



About The Author

Jim Morekis

Jim Morekis

A native Savannahian, Jim has been editor-in-chief of Connect Savannah for 15 years. The University of Georgia graduate is also a travel writer, authoring regional guides in the Moon handbook series... more


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