Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Fighting, Kissing, and Making Up

By Jeneiene Schaffer

It’s funny how you come to see the similarities between the dysfunctions of your family and the dysfunctionings of the family politic.

Take my twisted sister, for example. Just two years ago in the days leading up to the 2004 election we were both frothing at the mouth at each other. If spit could reach along the telephone lines all the way to New Jersey and back we’d both be doing the ‘ew gross dance’ while shouting ‘you dumbass, how could you vote for that man?!”

My entire extended family, with the exception of me, my brother and youngest sister, are all diehard Republicans. Heck, my dad *still* defends Tricky Dick at family reunions, where my relatives must scheme for weeks: “do you think we should get on her case about abortion?” Nah, let’s remind her again about how Clinton nailed that poor innocent intern!” And so on.

But, the past couple of weeks have brought fewer and fewer sarcastic bombastic so-you’ll believe-anything-Michael Moore, Moveon.org,-and-the-liberal-media-tell-you, won’t-you emails from my family. No, the airwaves and ewaves have been copiously and mysteriously quiet. No smirking forwarded messages from the desk of Limbaugh, O’Rielly, and Coulter. Nadda.

Yes, the media talked a lot about hate back in 2004. They discussed and evaluated surveys showing how incredible it was that people not only disliked a president and his policies, but now there was outright hatred. Despising and loathing even. I would sometimes cry after my sister, who I love dearly, and I would fight about Bush, Iraq, attacks against gays, etc. I would email her late in the night and swear to her that nothing, not even Bush, could tear us apart.

Then the blog movement began and we stopped spewing at each other. Instead, we left searing comments on each other’s blogsite. Sometimes I think the blogoshere movement began with so many pissed off people and nowhere to go.

And, now we: the dems, the independents, the repentant Republicans have been delivered our comeuppance. If this were a schoolyard playground we would be shouting in the bullies’ faces and demanding that now you play what WE want to play. From the time it became apparent that the dems would take not only the house but the senate as well, how I fought the urge to email the now silent part of my family and rub, rub, rub away in all their faces. Ah, that would have felt good.

But, only temporarily. You see, we of the ‘liberal’ persuasion now have the awesome and very awkward responsibility to carry on and display what the conservative right have championed for so long and failed miserably at: the traditional Christian legacy of turning the other cheek. To live and let live. We must be compassionate, caring, and begin to gather in the whole flock—black sheep and all.

When I think about how that’s no fun at all, I remind myself how angry it made me to be the so-called black sheep both in my own family and in society at large. When Nancy Pelosi talked on the News Hour the night after the election and said that now is not the time to fight back but work together, I considered. Maybe we can seize this opportunity to show ‘em how it’s really done. Dems are the true uniters, y’all so listen up and take notes.

Maybe it’s the cynical New Yorker in me. Maybe it’s because human nature changes at such a tortoise-like slow pace that I doubt the dems will really be that much better. But most of all, maybe it’s because I see my own dysfunctional family when I watch Nancy and George Junior dance around how much they can’t stand each other.

At the Double Tree Hotel victory party for the dems in Tucson, Jim Kolbe plants a smooch on Gabby Gifford’s cheek and the crowd goes wild. Um, did I miss something?

My sister and I are looking forward to a great visit this Christmas. I just got off the phone with her and because I’m flying out with my family to see her, she’s kicking down for the rental car. I’d bet the farm that neither of us will mention the election. If keeping our mouth shut sometimes is what keeps the peace, let it be so.

Jeneiene is a registered Independent. A frequent contributor to publications such as the Tucson Weekly, she has submitted this piece for consideration.


laura said...
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be said...

i certainly hope the wreckless partisanship will halt. However, the checks and balances which demand accountability and oversight are necessary even as the subjects which suddenly find themselves in the fish bowl will certainly scream'partisanship'. I guess what I am trying to say is - it is absolutely critical to the health of our country that we understand what went on for the past X years. We know how that process will be framed so I do not see how we can reasonably expect a "bipartisan" outcome. Especially when the actors in question understand bi-partisanship to be 'you do what i say'. Let's not hold on to the hope of bipartisanship to the dismay of oversight - accountability - etc. I hope that the rope has not been pulled so far to the right that what we understand moderation to be is implicated.