Travels with Gregory

A mother and son search for hope on the campaign trail

Kerry headquarters was a ghost town. Umbrellas and ponchos were strewn across the floor, empty coffee cups and discarded signs and a lone security guard who looked at us quizzically. We picked up a few souvenir posters and stickers and on our way out were interviewed by a documentary team. “Nobody else will talk to us.” they said. “People are pretty discouraged.” They asked us why we’d come and how we were feeling now. We gave voice to our disappointment but also to our hope about what might be ahead for the organizations that have grown up around this election. “If you could say one thing to Bush right now” they asked, “what would it be?” Gregory snorted, “Well it would involve some pretty colorful language so I’d better not say it on camera.”

On the drive home my son and I talked about the folks who’d been working on these issues a lot longer than we had and those who had more at stake. We talked about the older African American commentator on the news the night before who recalled the South before and during the civil rights movement. We talked about folks who’ve been fighting for racial and sexual equality for 50 years. They keep going and so should we. We talked about our new friend Keith and his partner. Gregory didn’t think it was right that all these states had passed gay marriage bans or that Keith and his partner should have to move to Canada if they wanted to marry. We also talked about how this was the beginning of something, not the end. This was a setback, not a defeat. These issues, these people, wouldn’t be going away.

As we listened to the concession speeches on the car radio, I found a degree of solace. Gregory was not so easily convinced. He was still feeling angry and sold out. We made ourselves listen to Bush’s acceptance. Unity? Like hell. We worked on Kerry’s campaign to stop the war, to get health care, to get jobs, to stop the rich from getting richer, to end racism, to protect human rights, to stop the spiraling deficit spending that feeds the military industrial monster. We couldn’t see this right wing administration getting behind any of that. Unity with hate is NOT in our future. The kind of unity that Bush was talking about is the sit down and shut up kind. Definitely not our kind of unity. Unity doesn’t mean we all march in lock step but that we take the time to understand one another’s needs and values, and that we make sure ALL people’s human dignity is upheld.

There was an eerie silence the next few days on all the web sites I had followed during the election. Michael Moore had a black backdrop and the image of George Bush made up of the faces of fallen soldiers. ACT still had their Election Day front page, hadn’t posted anything new.

We filled the silence ourselves. We talked with the rest of our family and friends and encouraged each other to continue what we’d started. What’s next? I believe the duty of the opposition is to oppose. We need to keep working for justice and for peace as well as for a world that respects the United States because of our integrity and intelligence, not because we have the biggest gun. Everything we had on November 2nd— resources, funds, email lists, websites, volunteers, and passionate leadership—we still have. As for Gregory, he’s already planning to campaign for Edwards in 2008.