Volume 74, Number 27 | November 10 - 16, 2004

Talking Point

Without an umbrella: Dissent often works best wet

By Andrei Codrescu

Big sigh of relief. Now all you people against the war, scream for peace. Environmentalists, take out your boats. Civil libertarians, jump on the censors. Globalists, sing in French. Now that the sad umbrella that was John Kerry failed to keep out the rain, you and I can get back to our issues and go deep. Let the rain come down. Some of us work better wet. I’m amazed how long we’ve bit our tongues.

Pacifists listened to Kerry’s bellicose rhetoric and heard peace. Environmentalists listened hard for a defense of nature and heard a call for industrial growth. Civil libertarians listened to Kerry’s pledges for a stronger homeland defense and thought they heard Ashcroft being raked over the coals. Kerry lamented the hard-labor jobs of yesteryear and our futurists thought he meant an end to to the drudgery of work.

Rarely was any candidate so perfectly misheard. We heard what we wanted to hear and saw the movie that we wanted to see. Most of us sank deep into the theater seats and spectated the democratic process like it was a new release from Hollywood. Oh, yeah, and we forwarded a lot of e-mails and (maybe) got out to vote. But the popcorn sure tasted good. Some folks will be outraged at this because they think they worked hard for Kerry (and surely some have), but now let’s ask ourselves if working undercover is the best way to change the government. Even in the Soviet Union, toward the end, the dissidents decided to come out in the open and speak their minds clearly and fearlessly.

In hindsight, Ralph Nader is the only hero of this circus: he always said what he thought, he spoke his own words not the synthetic pills of speechwriters, and he feared neither outrage nor opprobrium, both of which he was dished plenty of. He was, like Bush, in no position to be misunderstood. The people who voted for Bush did nothing sneaky. Not so the motley opposition.


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