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The International Writers Magazine
: Modern Politics

When Doves Burn
Phil Mershon - Rounding Up

With the Presidential election now over and a fait accompli before it ever began, we of the loyal opposition move into our respective camps. The most pathetic of these metaphysical communes is the Next Time Collective, the sad-eyed lowland dwellers pondering who Ms. Clinton will select for a running mate and whether she will be up against John McCain or an electric toaster with a U.S. flag decal on its side.

Another mystical camp, not as densely populated but every bit as fallen starry-eyed, are the Tribe of Information Hunters and Gatherers. These dedicated believers in the process will spend the next four years sewing together their quilts of data from the wrongdoings of various GOP brown shirts in the mistaken faith that an informed populace will kick out the bad guys sometime between now and the 2008 demolition derby. And a feisty claque of politically disenfranchised housing project residents at least earn a few credibility points for not only shunning the other two major groups, but, as the theoreticians and strategists of the multitudes, they are already busying themselves evaluating tactics for forging the Democratic Party into a force for progressive action in America, a goal which even the more optimistic members admit could take upwards of twenty years to produce. Many of these latter folks currently form a line waiting to migrate across the U.S. border into Canada.
The small community I call post-election home is neither as cohesive nor as readily identifiable as the other three, but our commonality of purpose compensates for our lack of tight-fitting well-pressed uniforms. Since we see today’s Democrat as tomorrow’s Republican, and yesterday’s Republican as today’s Fascist, we never held out much hope for the donkey brigade to begin with, and so we bypassed the denial, anger and grieving stages of adjustment. While we certainly would have preferred Kerry to Bush, we also recognized that a JFK victory at best would have resulted in a temporary holding pattern: the mudslide into hell might have at least frozen over for a while.
Among ourselves we are known as The Gang, mostly because it’s a short name, requiring no acronym. Our habits are simple. First, we never watch television. According to Variety, the average Wonder Bread American household consumes eight hours a day of that particular mental pabulum, and since those are the vast majority of the current regime’s supporters, we simply won’t be a party to it. Second, we read books, magazines, and newspapers by the truckload. And by reading we do not mean scanning the tapioca portions of our minds across the pages of some gas bag’s exercise in creative typing. By reading we mean absorbing the words of thoughtful men and women who strive to challenge, enlighten and entertain us through the use of engaging concepts and style. Third, we keep ourselves in excellent physical condition. With the industrial world’s worst healthcare system, a soon-to-be squandered social security system, and likely military attacks from the ever-growing list of new enemies, we have to get and stay fit.
The most significant aspect of our behavior involves our interactions with ourselves and with others. After all, the Bush Heads are correct about one thing: one is either for them or against them. Those of us resolutely against furthering the objectives of this corporatist economy treat one another with patience, consideration, and respect. As to the opposition, we are—as the need arises—impolite, vulgar, mocking and rude. When one of the sons of Sean Hannity tells us to shut up, we merrily jam a rotten banana into his mouth, gas him with pepper spray, and hang his pants from a flag pole, ideally with him still in them. This kind of response reminds us—and them—that we are not wimps. And besides, why should the other side have all the fun?
In the interests of literary tidiness, I can now clear up a few ancillary matters raised earlier in this narrative. Although now separated by a couple thousand miles, I am still in touch with some of the folks from the DNC. Russ Fink works as a software consultant in Columbus, but his true gift to the world remains his songwriting and performing. Anyone searching for a singer-guitarist with the acerbic wit of a young Elvis Costello and the bare-knuckle passion of a young Bruce Springsteen should contact Russ immediately at finkruss at
E “Sunshine” M returned to college where she routinely kicks hell out of soccer and is currently planning several trips abroad. E is annoyed with me at the moment, in large part because my abrupt departure was followed by a visit from certain government officials curious to understand how a guy who supposedly died in February could be working for the DNC in July. All it takes, of course, is willpower.
I haven’t heard from JL lately, but when I last talked to him he was applying to law school. I’ve no doubt that my libertarian friend is successful in whatever enterprise he has chosen.
JK and KB contacted the police shortly after I left the office. More than one periodical reported that I had died earlier this year and they were all in a huff about the possibility that someone was impersonating me, as if anyone could. On the bright side, by mid-September the Columbus field office had shut down, with no explanations forthcoming from Grassroots Campaigns, although as an organization which operated as a self-perpetuating fundraising machine constantly dependent upon an influx of new money to pay old bills, it isn’t difficult to imagine why.
As for myself, I am no worse off than at summer’s end. I continue to freelance, a career which affords me two nights a week in a Motel 6 and the rest of the time finds me residing in a warm sleeping bag between the library and the park. At any given time I have a dozen or more pieces out to market—some of which sell—a state that keeps me busy. With the kind guidance of editor Sam North, I am near completion of a feature film screenplay. Most important of all, I am stronger and more resilient today than I was when my demise was prematurely reported. Due to the kindness of several and to the betrayal of a few, my survivor impulses are as sharp as the creases on Jerry Falwell’s Sunday dress pants. When doves burn, as they so often do, sometimes they come back with a lot of attitude. Here’s hoping this farcical election makes you stronger where it matters the most.

Part One here Phil at the DMC and other stories
When Doves Burn Pt Two- 9/27/04
Phil Mershon's Survivors guide to the US Election

© Phil Mershon November 2004

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