Wednesday, November 03, 2004

permanent déjà vu.

i am stuck in a permanent déjà vu.

this feels like 2000, all over again.
kinda like ground-hog day: you hope you don't have to go through it again, but are already prepared for it. yet when things unfold just like before, you're in despair, preparation or not.
it's an awful feeling, this one.
and it's not the hangover.
i stayed rather sober all night: i had three drinks in the course of 12 hours. this hangover is politic-induced.
i read somewhere online these past week that people, especially non-americans, should chill, that this was an election, not armaggeddon, yet that's what it felt like in the weeks and days running up to it, and that's what it felt like yesterday, and what it still feels like, now that november 2nd is behind us.

the election fun started when alex arrived late yesterday afternoon.
first we shared beers and good conversation at feierling, then pizza at taormina. we walked through the city, bought some reserve beers to be stored in my fridge, had a brief look at cnn and later progressed to the election event at the bar in the student cafeteria.
the event was packed and sold out: there must have been more than 400 people crowding around the stage.
upon entry, you received a voting card for the event's vote: of 200-something votes that were handed in 10 went to bush, 2 to nader (having been written in on the ballot) and the rest to kerry. we crazy leftist europeans, we.

alex and i made ourselves comfy and had some beers as a lecturer explained the us election system. we gave soundbites to a lady from swr radio, several times actually, and alex was interviewed for südbaden tv, being the nice, well-spoken kerry-voting american that he is. now he's a tv star, too. too bad they won't broadcast his interview with his email address and "i'm single" marquee-ing below his name.
later, there was on-stage discussion, free maccas and live chat with journalists in washington.
we had some beer and listened on, but left the party to get a coffee when i started getting drowsy at 9:30pm.

later, we even went to burger king, in honour of all things american. it was after we had fled the election party, that is.
they had this american stand up comedian, who was funny for about the first three minutes of his set, joking that osama bin laden was actually locked up in a studio in hollywood, being forced by the gop to record the statement from the other day.
shortly thereafter, however, he said that it had been the cia that had flewn planes into the world trade center. and then he went in great detail about how no plane ever crashed into the pentagon. tinfoil hats anyone?
it was totally non-funny, and just outright offensive. i wonder whether this guy actually believed the shit he said, or whether he wanted to score points with a german audience, that didn't even laugh about his jokes. it was embarrassing and bad. really really bad. alex wanted to leave, and quite rightly so, and so we did. we had a snack at burger king, a beer (alex)/cafeeine and guarana tea (me) at home, and then progressed to o'dwyers for communal cnn watching.
the place was packed to the brim, we had cider, talked to young us college kids on exchange in freiburg (strangely enough they were all from battleground states), and enjoyed ourselves, as good as possible.
truth be told, there was little to enjoy, really. apart from the cider, maybe. everything unfolded as expected. no surprises, really, and i was very well aware that there had to be surprises for kerry to have a chance at the presidency.
the only time the atmo really picked up was when the great result for wonderful barack obama came in. there was cheering then. and there was cheering for mccain, too.
alex and i, we were annoyed by tucker carlson, the lame results, and a brit who kept harassing me and getting more and more tired. by 4:30am, alex was practically falling asleep leaning at the bar, and so we went home, turned on the telly, settled on our respective mattresses and dozed on and off.

i kept waking up, alarmed, and at one point, i saw that the entire south of the country was marked red on the cnn map.
we had missed when they called florida, which alex and i had been waiting for. i had had such high hopes for florida.
i kept sleeping and awaking, stressed and headachy, to progressingly worse news.
at 9am, after maybe 3 hours of low quality sleep, i actually got up and went off to a meeting with a classmate, hoping to come back to some kind of result, yet there isn't any so far really, even though fox and msnbc claim that bush has won ohio and with that the election.
it's so bizarre.

when i got back by 11am, cnn still had the whole thing themed "election night 2004" and wolf blitzer kept saying that they don't know what to call ohio because they don't want to screw up like last time.
next time, they should make sure to theme everything "election week 2004" from the start. or "the prelude to the court decisions". or "the run-up to the recounts". or something.
richard quest was jumping around, a little overhyped, in front of a red and blue map. i feel for him: he was looking really tired, poor chap.

this is all so y2k.
just worse, in oh so many ways. and it's not because i have a real headache this morning, not just a political one. it's certainly not because it looks like i've lost my bet and will have to cook that dinner for alex and chris.

over coffee late this morning, sitting in lounge chairs on the terrace of le buffet, looking at the münster, alex and i talked about the impact this election will have.
quite obviously, it will not affect me directly, it will not affect my individual freedoms, or my right to choose or directly influence the way that i live my life.

but i fear about what it will do to the world that we all live in. i fear about what the foreign policies of a second bush term will look like and about how the world will react to them. i worry that many people i know and care about in the us will now loose hope that change is ahead. i worry that people all over the globe will now move from being anti-bush to being anti-american. i worry that democracy doesn't work anymore, in this day and age, when fear and the media define so much, and when image counts more than content.
i worry what kind of judges bush might push through if things turn out the way i fear they will. i worry how it came to this, again.

note: if i were american, i'd propose a law that outlaws all kind of political polling for all kinds of elections.

the world somehow seems less safe this morning.

i wonder whether four years from now, i will look back at today and think about how little i knew back then, just like i look back at the election weeks of 2000, when i thought it was horrid that bush had won, yet quite obviously couldn't foresee just how bad it was going to get.
i fear that it will all be worse, much much worse, four years from now.

and for the record: i never really liked déjà vus.

"light globes wash up all along the beach/and they light me up, and they light me up with certainty/let you calculate coincidence and circumstance and turbulence/gotta see what it is and it's everything, and it's everything/'cos baby can't see through/ all this matter and make up and déjà vu"