Listening to the Connection the other day, they had a panel of conservative activists and pundits on the air, chatting about what they expected from the President they’d just so enthusiastically elected.

At one point, the announcer said to one of his guests, “These are pretty deep issues we’re talking about. Abortion. Whether or not gays should have the right to marry. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of room for compromise here. How do you think the two sides can come together?”

To which she responded, “Why should we compromise? We won!”

This response has been haunting me. Not because I think this woman correctly perceives that she and her political allies have power over me, though that seems to be the case.

It haunts me because it could so easily have been me saying that, had the vote gone the other way.
Like the radio man, I don’t see a lot of room for compromise on these issues. And were I granted the power, I wouldn’t be looking to accomodate the needs to the Christian Right. A group that until Tuesday I had considered a fringe minority, but which can now plausibly claim to hold at least a plurality amongst the people I’m sharing this nation with.

I simply do not know how to sit down at the table with these people, to even listen to them, let alone how we can talk about creating peace. I know in the largest picture, I don’t want to see my short term political goals – gay marriage, an end to the occupation of Iraq – met at the cost of silencing half the country, even if that half is the bigoted, undereducated half.

It’s true that many of these people voted against what I percieve to be their interests. I’m no longer convinced, though, that it’s simply a matter of education. I suspect a great many of the Bush voters really disagree with me about really basic things.

I feel as if I am at war with these people, and I don’t know how we can live in peace, but I know I must do something to stop fighting, and that something must not look like surrender. M said to me the other day that my hopelessness sounded like the words of someone in a nation torn by civil war, Ireland or Palestine. We are at war, I told him.

This is a war of of ideas. I mean, he said, a war where people are actually killing each other.

So do I, I said. It just doesn’t look that way in the media because white men aren’t killing each other over these ideas yet.

Connect the dots and all these “hate crimes” become acts of war against women, against queers, against blacks. I know I’m not saying anything new, but it bears repeatition all the same.

I feel sure in my heart that a feminist America could never have elected Bush president. I feel like it’s time for me to radicalize even further my living/talking/acting around sex and gender. I’m not sure how to do that, but I’m sure it must be done.

And as I radicalize, I remain concerned about the lack of room for compromise. I don’t want to be at war. I don’t want to ‘win’ while someone else ‘loses’. I want peace. How can we make that here at home before the war escalates to the point where the papers are forced to take notice?

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