'We shall see the reign of witches pass over' 

Hidden somewhere in the results of the Nov. 2 election, there is an ocean of hope.

If, for example, only 18- to 29-year-olds had voted, many of George Bush's red states would have been swamped by blue ink, and John Kerry would have won the Electoral College 375-163.

Bravo for youth. I think their numbers will explode with blue when the military draft blows down their necks, as it surely will, and they note that the sons and daughters of the military-evaders currently in power somehow aren't wearing uniforms.

Or maybe there's hope in the fact that 56 million people rejected the "war president," and the margin of victory was the slimmest for an incumbent since 1916. The me-too media fell over themselves with pandering repetition that Bush had scored the highest vote in history. But few in the press were brave enough to focus on the record vote against Bush -- and for Kerry, the man derided by his opponents as the "most liberal" senator.

America has truly been divided by the Republican strategy of fear and lies. Now, more than ever, the people are willing to embrace the label of liberalism. That can't be bad.

Amid the angst over Bush's victory, I received an epiphany "from an unlikely source, gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who rallied the faithful with an e-mail stating: "Their army is how much bigger than mine? Three percent? Well, shucks, Bubba. Now is the time to establish a network and an attitude."

I've got the attitude. It's called resistance. Now, we need to build the network.

The big question is defining "we." I voted for Kerry because, like most Americans (according to polls), I feel the country is going the wrong way, the war is wrong, and the economy is dangerously tilted in favor of the plutocrats.

But I found it hard to enthusiastically cheer Kerry. The last time he uttered an unambiguous opinion was in his testimony against the Vietnam War. He differed little from Bush on the solution to Iraq, globalization or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On most key issues, he was a degree or two left of Bush, often not even that.

Most important, he dreadfully failed to understand the religious vote. From farms to factories, 40 million to 70 million common-man, blue-collar evangelicals -- people who have been devastated by GOPonomics -- voted for Bush because of "values." Republicans preached against gay marriage, and the faithful were blinded to the reality that their pockets are being picked to give hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare and tax benefits to the very wealthiest Americans. Republicans preached against killing unborn babies, and the faithful were blinded to the deaths of 100,000 Iraqis, most of them innocent of everything but the land where they were born.

The current Democrats are a failed party. They'll continue to rush to the right, to try to out-Republican the Republicans. They'll be applauded by media equally devoid of principles. And out of that, we can all pray, something better will grow.

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson beat Barry Goldwater with 61 percent of the vote, a true mandate compared to Bush's relatively anemic 51 percent. After 1964, the radicals in the GOP pursued a potent, covert strategy -- an evil one, to my mind -- of race division and class warfare. The culmination of their scheme came Nov. 2, 2004.

Now it's our turn. We start with a bigger base. We don't need to conceal our motives. We stand for true values reflected in religious doctrine. We can do as Christ did and preach peace, justice and opportunity. In the late 1880s, the choice for "progressives" was socialist revolution or regulatory reining in of corporate excess. We chose reform, and it worked, ultimately bearing fruit in the New Deal.

We can do that again, and do it with something other than the moribund Democratic Party -- maybe with new leadership, maybe with an entirely new party. It may take 40 years, as it did for the GOP, but it's worth it.

Thomas Jefferson in 1798, during another bleak period in history, the passage of the Sedition Acts, wrote: "We shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolve, and the people, recovering their true sight, restore their government to its true principles ... in the meantime, we are suffering deeply in spirit, and incurring the horrors of a war and long oppressions of enormous public debt. ..."

He must have had a crystal ball tuned in to 2004.

Group Senior Editor John Sugg can be reached at 404-614-1241 or at john.sugg@creativeloafing.com.


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