Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My American Dream Started to Die with Howard Dean

Back in the summer of 2002 I was paying attention to the candidates for US President. I was interested in Howard Dean because he was the ONLY one speaking out against the impending war in Iraq. I didn't much like what I heard about his other positions, but a friend and I decided to go to a "meet-up" for Dean and check things out. Over the course of the next few months I converted into becoming a tried and true "Deaniac."

In the end, it wasn't just his stance on the war - or really any other issues that converted me. I got involved in running a meet-up, watched his blog and followed the whole campaign closely. There was something totally different about how he was running for office. Something I'd never seen before in politics, not even when I worked on the Wellstone campaigns. When Dean said "You have the power!" - he meant it. As an example, in facilitating a meet-up, I got materials monthly from the campaign. But they always made sure we knew that these were just suggestions. They wanted US to run the campaign the way we thought was best. If someone at a meet-up came up with one of those, "The campaign should...." We turned it right around and said, "What role do you want to take in getting it done?" We wrote our own letters, planned our own events, developed our own strategies, and the campaign headquarters listened, learned and supported. I had never seen anything like it before.

And then the Clintons, Carvilles, Shrums and Begallas of the world got to work. They did everything they could to discredit the Dean campaign and used a compliant media and the Republicans to take him down, all while convincing folks that Kerry was "electable."

During the winter of 03, I went through a depression. I felt the Democratic Party had betrayed me. And as bad as Bush was, I just couldn't muster my energies to work on behalf of Kerry. Then came the election. And the depression went deeper. HOW COULD THE WORLD STAND ANOTHER 4 YEARS OF BUSHCO??? I spent hours on the Sorry Everybody website, reading and crying (especially when those from around the world came in to console and forgive us).

Then came Katrina, and what can I say? Does depression about the country you once thought you loved know no bounds? I was actually on vacation in Sedona, AZ when it happened. We just sat in our room watching the horror unfold in front of our eyes on tv and tried to still spend time exploring the area. But the trip was ruined and its hard for me to hold any fond memories of Sedona because of that.

Ah well, so many horrors, so little time. One thing after another, and here I am, I can't let go of my desire to try to do something to change things. But there is not a political party out there to latch onto. I don't see any kind of effective movement that inspires me. I feel like we just keep getting fed more and more bs and keep sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss. Or maybe its just that I'm paying more attention than I did before, and we were already there.

Anyway, I'm feeling pretty angry and frusterated today (can you tell?). But that's ok. How many times have I reminded myself of the saying "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention." I think we just have to learn to live with anger. But boy, would it ever feel good to belong to something that I thought was really going to make a difference. Like I did back in the days of the Dean campaign.


  1. Hello NL, just thought I'd say hi! Just added you to my Favorite Blogs.


  2. Thanks for stopping by northcountry. Great to see you. I hope we can stay in touch.

  3. Hello SmartyPants, I found you by way of Nez. I want to address this:

    "...Fasion in the urban areas (and other parts of the country) has adopted the gang style and any young person with awareness will know that this is how you need to dress to be accepted. They learn that in order to protect themselves, they must adopt an attitude, get tough, and join a group of other young men who will protect them..."

    What many of us, black folks blogging and organizing into activism, believe is that we must teach young people to move beyond a need to be "accepted." We must teach them to demand more from themselves, from their community and from their government. They shouldn't have to "protect themselves" and their sisters and mothers from crime, their government needs to do that. The police force works for them, too. They should not be emulating gang culture. I don't want to meet them where they are and let it be, I want those young people to learn to stand up for themselves and their communities AGAINST gangs. We may be saying the same thing, but I wasn't sure.

  4. Thanks for stopping by carmen d. I really value the input of people like you in helping me continue this journey - so please know how much I appreciate your comment. While the blogs have given us so much by way of conversations about these issues, I do sometimes struggle with the fact that things are so complex and nuanced, they often cannot be captured in the few words we post in a diary.

    So yes, I think I see what you are saying and would agree. One of the differences in how we expressed it might be that I'm trying to challenge the "white" perspective in how we tend to criminalize these so-called "gang" issues out of fear before we have even tried to understand the young people involved. Whereas, what I hear in your comment is the message you would want to give to the young people who are adopting the culture without exporing the options or the consequences.

    Don't know if that makes any sense to you. If not, I'd love to hear more.


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