Friday, May 25, 2007

I Quit That Party

Another gorgeous day in Seattle. The sound of construction on every street. Sunshine sparkling in the leaves. Paper mache, million-dollar condos going up over here, falling down over there. Children splashing in the water at the park. Dogs pooping on the grass. My city, warm and smiling, living on borrowed time.

Global warming has been good to us. Now, instead of our traditional spring downpour the rain occurs intermittently, with frequent outbursts like this one: The sky is a white arc, like a cathedral dome, with light bouncing in all directions. Birds are singing, probably in confusion. It is one hell of a pretty day. Of course, by late June anyone without air conditioning will be wandering the streets in the sunlit evenings, drenched in sweat and unable to sleep.

It seems like a small price to pay, doesn't it?

This week Congress failed to set a timetable for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Bush succeeded in buying enough time to pass the war off to another president. The death toll for U.S. troops since the invasion is now over 3400, with 90 soldiers killed this month. I can't imagine what it must be like, for a soldier in battle, to hear the news of our acquiescence.

Of course, I don't have a child or a husband or a sibling fighting in Iraq.

And the birds are singing, and it's such a lovely day.

This week I quit the Democratic Party. It wasn't a big thing, despite the fact that I have been a staunch Democrat for 30 years. Like a good Dem, I cursed Ralph Nader for the damage I thought he had done in the 2000 election---meanwhile, letting Al Gore off the hook for giving up without a fight, and all the pundits and media personalities (even Jon Stewart) who sighed and griped and complained that the recount, the review, the whole damn process was just taking too long!

Let's own up to it: We gave up the 2000 election because we were too bored by our own government system to see things through to a legal and moral conclusion.

Two days ago, when it became clear that Congress was going to play this game Bush wants to play--vying to see who can escape this situation without taking responsibility for the bloodbath we've created--I realized that Nader was right. The whole system has become corrupt. Our government is rife with career lobbyists and bigmouth candidates who don't listen to anyone who has less than a billion dollars in the bank.

My withdrawal from the Democratic Party will affect no one, but it matters to me. It means that I am not an automatic vote for the next anointed Dem. They can earn my vote, but they can't count on it any more. I quit.

The birds are still singing, but they sound kind of crazy. Maybe the birds have gone psycho because they don't recognize the seasons any more.

In completely random and unrelated events, police report shooting incidents in Dallas, Chicago, Boston, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and New Mexico.

I was on my way home from an editing assignment at Microsoft, last summer, when the bus driver announced he was taking an alternate route. We were not making our three assigned stops downtown, and anyone who wanted to leave the bus at Denny was free to do so. There was a shooter downtown.

I got off the bus and used my cell phone to call Cory, who picked me up on Denny on his way home.

Someone else's loved one died that day. It was not my tragedy. For me it was merely another urban inconvenience. This, then, is how we live: When nightmares occur, we grab our cell phones and plan an alternate route.

I wonder how long this strategy will work.