Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Thumpin' We Gave

By Agent 99

I live in a very small town. It's mostly dairies and flower farms and redwoods around here, more cows than people. And a lot of those people think dressing like a hippie is a great Halloween costume. We're talkin' Basic Small Town America. If you don't even own a tv, you can get pretty lonely for the public square around here.

Sure, there's Greater Blogistan, and silence is my very favorite music, but, accidentally, I found out how nice it can be to just sit down and listen to real humans talking about real things. Remember when we were filibustering for a filibuster of the Alito confirmation? When thousands and thousands of us stayed up for days, nuking the phone lines and inboxes of all our senators to stop that entirely too far Wrong Wing appointment? One of the radio hosts who came in to spell The Young Turks, give them a few hours for some shut-eye, sounded so genuine to me, so mowed-down over the chance to be part of such a patriotic endeavor, that I decided I wanted to listen to his internet radio show a time or two.

Suddenly I was transported to the "hills and hollers" of West Virginia, netcasting liberal talk radio, brought to me by a local union. When was that? February? So many offenses have raced by in the raging waters under the bridge that maybe I only think it was February. Maybe March? Back then, anyway. I was just floored to hear all these stone hillbillies talking progressive politics, using twangy but intricate syllabicity, and they even seemed to understand the meanings of the words they used... mostly. Hot dang! Another stereotype bites the dust. Still, it had to be a mistake, so I tuned in quite a few more times.

I got to know the callers pretty well, and I had my favorites. I think my biggest favorite was Wesley. He works for the union that sponsors the network. Probably I like him the best because he reminds me of my earliest childhood, when my dad was in a union, and it was explained to me that workers vote Democratic, because Republicans are against workers, and always take away all the overtime. My dad worked seven days a week back then. Forty hours at straight pay. Twenty at time and a half. Eight at double time. Two at double time and a half. And eight at triple time. We know about hard work around these parts. Wesley has been working like that for the union, for the Democratic Party, and against all the people who have been hollering for us to just dump them and vote third party. Every time people started screaming too hard about those spineless so-and-so's, Wesley would get on the line and explain about how the Democratic Party just needs fixing, not replacing, that it is vital to get control of Congress, at least the House, so we can put a stop to the criminality running our country into the ground. To use a term that just became popular, Wesley took a thumpin' a number of times for his position on how to fix our country. People have been damn fed-up.

He was always careful to explain that he wanted Democrats elected and then we could hold their feet to the fire. If they wouldn't do the right things, then we could replace them with people who would. He never slacked. He maintained that position through every bump in the road, every screaming fit about the lame Democratic response to the endless ugliness we’re supposed to call "legislation" in recent times. Wesley was only shaken by the Military Commissions Act. He did not mention electing Democrats to office then, and he was outraged by every one who voted for it, including thirteen Democrats. He's not a religious man, but he got on the phone to all the church organizations he could think of and asked them if Jesus would condone this, and if not, why weren't they speaking out against this heinous bill? And he was asking everybody listening to the show to do the same.

Wesley started out feeling like home and stayed that way.

In the days leading up to Election 2006 I know most of us were having a very hard time swallowing back the mounting terror. Gore Vidal came out on video to say it was the most important election in his very long life. Others have been saying very similar things. I have been bellowing to anyone who will listen that it is the end, the very last chance to turn this around, to get our country back. The urge to hysteria had been mounting in my breast for a week. On Monday the 6th, my voice raised at the checkout counter at the store about how I hoped everyone was voting on Tuesday. Heads turned from every corner of the store. Bring cameras! We can't let 'em steal this one! Bring cameras! Cameras and pitchforks! America! America! America! They can't have our country!

Funny. When the impossible happened, when we got the House, and almost certainly the Senate too, I still couldn't feel relief. Kept refreshing the New York Times results map page to count the dark blue patches. In the moment I heard that Allen was conceding in Virginia, it finally started feeling true. As it finally sank in, my very first thought was for Wesley, a man I've never met, who lives three thousand miles away, but I had come to love through the miracle of cyberspace. Even though I haven't listened to that show very much in months, I know I can always pull them up in the archives at the White Rose Society, catch up on them that way.

Full of relief and love for the world, I pulled up the latest show I could find. Sure enough. There was Wesley, saying:

Okay. Now we gotta hold their feet to the fire!

[Update: This post has been altered slightly to take out some particulars, and in the months since the Democrats took office, Wesley has been making excuses for them, not holding their feet to the fire, and I've learned a great deal more about what makes these guys tick. Pfeh. --99]

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