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November, 2004

Apparently I Was Wrong

By David Kienzler

Editor's note: This is the third in a series of essays about last night's election. Feel free to submit your own at writing@noahbrier.com.

I was in Boston yesterday in the ballroom of the Copley Square Westin Hotel. My presence there was a last minute thing because, for better or worse, I had wanted to see the end with the people who had gone through it with me. This was to be Kerry's big victory party, but it ended up reminding me a lot more of the one in Poe's Masque of Death. I got up there late, but still early enough to see the heady optimism of people expecting victory. Florida was slipping away, but hey, we have Ohio. But as the evening progressed and it grew increasingly bleak, you could see the panic behind people's eyes. By 2am Poe's Red Death had overwhelmed the maps on the dozens of TVs and dreams were dying left and right.

I haven't seen people so shocked and gutted, crushed really, nor been so myself, since a little over three years ago. I've always considered myself if not a pessimist, at least a mood equalizer. And I was definitely less optimistic than most people there when the evening started. But even I really didn't think this was gonna happen. When you're a kid and you think there's a monster in your closet, you let yourself be scared but you know deep down inside that monsters don't really exist. In the same way I knew deep down inside that we would win this. We had to. The stakes were too high, the opponent that bad, the American people too smart.

I was wrong about that. I was also apparently wrong about preemptive military action, the need for exit strategies, and the importance of a true international coalition. Apparently I was wrong about the separation of church and state, gay rights, gay marriage, health care, abortion, social security, tax cuts for the rich and the deficit. Apparently I was wrong to think job losses are bad and Osama should be captured. Apparently I was wrong about global warming, the international criminal tribunal and missile defense systems.

I thought I could never be more embarrassed to call myself an American than I was for the last four years. I was wrong there too.

About the only thing I can still say with certainty: I'm scared for the future.

David Kienzler is an angry, Birkenstock-wearing hippie who worked on the Kerry campaign.

November 3, 2004
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