Now That The Party Is OverIn the past 24 hours, more than 14,000 people have read the post about me and Tash's trip to the Iraqi Expat Polls, and the response has been nothing short of astounding. After Instapundit picked me up, I got a hit about every 2 seconds, for roughly 24 hours. Of those 14,000 people, roughly a hundred wrote me letters, which came every five minutes or so. Most of these letters were really heartfelt, well-thought out messages that helped restore my faith in conservatives in general, and internet users specifically.
A lot of people said that they'd bookmark this blog and come back regularly, which is amazing. It also creates a lot of pressure. See, last week I was just preaching to the choir and I could say pretty much any old thing I felt like. Now the pressure's on to be reasonable and intelligent.
It's really important to communicate across the boundaries in this divided nation, but it's really hard, too. It takes a lot of restraint and it's a serious responsibility. See, I have a lot of political opinions but I more than enjoy a bit of fecal humor. Does all this attention mean I have to let that go?
Preaching to the converted allows a certain comfortable freedom. Before, I could just kinda shoot from the hip with a few cheap shots and inside jokes. Then the twenty to eighty liberals that actually read this thing would share a guffaw and get back to our whipped soy half-caf lattes and the serious business of undermining the institution of marriage.
Now I've got to use my brain and my heart IN TANDEM and it's tricky. It's all well and good to stand on a street corner and holler, but once people listen, it's human nature to make sure you can really get behind what you're shouting. I've had my ideas and the fallacies within them dissected and re-presented to me over and over the past few days, and it's pretty sobering.
But I really need to make something pretty clear here. Just because I took the trouble to seek my own truth and talk to some people who benefited from the war, thereby changing my own viewpoints...that doesn't mean I'm conservative now. I haven't broken through some shining gate and just up and joined another team--I've just opened my mind a bit and written about it. It's actually something I am trying to make a writing career from.
It's just that 13,800 of you haven't read my other stuff. Thinking for yourself doesn't mean you joined a particular group. It just means you're confident enough in your own perceptions that you can get outside them.
Because I describe myself as a liberal, a lot of people think that's a big deal. I think it's important that everyone remember that just because we agree on a few things it doesn't mean we agree about everything. All of the best, most moving letters I've received recently acknowledge this. However, the majority of the sites that picked my link up seemed to think that my essay was the equivalent of Darth Vader taking off his mask in Return of the Jedi.
On the flip side again, a man named Lt. Smash nearly moved me to tears yesterday with his emails. Read them here. I'd like to be friends with that guy.
A lot of people wrote to tell me that I sounded really young, and they, too were like me when they were my age...and once I was 45 or 50 or whatever, I'd be Republican too. Maybe so. Who knows. But goddamnit if I am going to join hand with someone who makes my entire belief structure sound like wetting the bed. I swear, nothing sucks like being patted on the back for openmindedness with one hand and patted on the head for being all cute and naive with the other.
According to the U.S. Census, 28,899,571 Americans were between 18 and 24 as of April, 2003. An additional 84,243,194 were between 25 and 44 at the same time. That's an awful lot of youthful idealism with the right to vote, and I think those numbers should be taken seriously.
Lest I devolve into a total snark, let me say a few other things, and I'm done:
1) I don't always blog about politics. There's travel writing, rock and roll, fine art and total weirdness on here as well. There's a guy named Clarence who is a history teacher at a Virginia Juvenile Facility that sends me stuff from time to time.
2) Just because the war in Iraq freed a lot of suffering people doesn't mean the way the administration went about starting the war and selling it to the people is right. Iraqis weeping and voting is tremendous and incredible, but it is not a mandate for the Bush administration to do any old fucked up thing it feels like doing.
3) I'll be watching the State of the Union tonight, and comments are sure to follow.
4) I want to go to the Walter Read hospital here in D.C, visit some soldiers and have a look at the domestic human cost of this war as well. Stick around.
5) I am really, deeply honored to have your attention, and I promise to try not to squander it. Again, I've been lucky enough to read a real outpouring of understanding and ideological generosity in the past few days, and it gives me hope that America is not as divided in black and white redstate bluestate areas, and that we can come back together. There's a lot of work ahead, but I'm thrilled that we might be doing it together.