when i was eight years old, i remember sitting in the passenger side while my dad drove down the highway. Upon seeing the driver of the car in front of us had adorned their bumper with a Dukakis sticker of support, I promptly turned to my dad and announced my hope that the driver “fall off the face of the earth.”
I had no idea what Dukakis stood for. I didn’t know what it meant to be Democrat a Republican for that matter. All I knew was that the administration of our Baptist Christian school had given us that day off from the normal school day to hold mock elections. The local news had come, and we were driving home to see if I had gotten on TV. Our principal told us that when we each walked into the homemade election booths, we were free to make whatever choice we wanted, as long as it was for George Bush. George Bush Sr. was of course on the side of God and Pro life. And we knew you were either for God and little babies, or you were for Satan. Hence my vehement wish on the driver’s fate—a long walk off a short earth.
Little did I know that at eight-years-old, that my word was completely flat.
Not only would the earth have to be level to have an actual “face” from which the evil driver could fall, I was too young and misinformed to see a round world and take both points of view into consideration. I knew one side, and it was God’s. Why would He, or my principal waste time with the wrong side? But what scares the living shit out of me was my instinctive reaction to armor myself with blind hatred. I didn’t know anything about Dukakis, his party, or even the driver. But in a sort of primal way, it shows us how fear of the unknown and the desire to be "correct" are often just what the bartender ordered to mix a hate cocktail.
I’ve since sobered up from this kind of thinking. As a former republican, the past eight years have forced me to swallow the notion that I was wrong. Unfortunately I’ve seen much of the McCain camp still drunk on my eight-year-old attitude. People see someone they don’t identify with, talking about completely new ideas, and suddenly they’re making tenuous connections to Acorn. Using convenient puns like “Obamanation.” Accusing him of being a terrorist because of his middle name. Calling his tax plan “wealth redistribution” as if the Democratic Party is really the Bolshevik Army in disguise, biding their time before they come dump out their grandmother’s hope chest of heirlooms. They’re reduced to my eight-year-old logic desperately defending their beliefs because they haven’t seen or refuse perceive a world from all sides, one that’s round. Or simply because they’re so set in their ways and they don’t want to face the daunting proposition that they just might not be right.
Luckily my dad scolded my little Earth exiling ass that day. Although a republican, he at least knew it wasn’t right for anyone to be pushed out of the atmosphere over a bumper sticker. The other night I think I may have convinced him to take that logic one step further, and admit with his vote that the policies of the past eight years have failed. And to anyone else who takes that step, thank you. It’s gut wrenchingly difficult to face facts and admit you may have been wrong. But thanks to the nature of the curtains that surround you tomorrow, no one will have to know. I hope you can soften the armor of your heart, and find the part of it that knows how to do the right thing.
if you actually got to the end of this, thanks.