Peace of My Mind – The Advocate, 10/23/2006

Republicans have rolled out their mid-term election strategery: Free Viagra for Everyone! Kidding. But they are having a hard time getting it up and keeping it up. When Bush, Cheney or Rumsfeld labels the opposition “appeasers” and “fascists”, I hear a very grown up voice in my head, singsonging, “I know you are but what am I?”

The Democrats seem incoherent, perhaps suffering from one too many earnest let’s-get-religion, languaging, values focus groups. And pathetic. If I had Mission Impossible, Abu Ghraib, Katrina footage, I believe I could make a clear statement. I wouldn’t even have to use the talking-with-your-mouth full, inappropriate massage footage of President Potty Mouth in Europe. Perhaps I’m naïve. The Republicans seem dipped in Astroglide. Nothing sticks to them.

And I don’t doubt that that unindicted, tube-squeezer Karl Rove, so ‘brilliant’ that he brought his boss to 36% approval rating, was behind the national distraction of John Karr. Check the ship’s log for a Thailand visit. As Election Day nears, watch for the reappearance of OJ, the Lindbergh baby and something Tom Cruise. When they drag out that tired old wedge issue of gay marriage, you know they got nuthin’.

Welcome to the insane swirl that is my brain on national politics. The resident activist in my house has taught me that taking action is the only way to interrupt despair. I don’t mean buying one of those Countdown to Bush’s Last Day hope-ometers. Besides, I wouldn’t put it past them to declare martial law and a third term. That constitution has been nothing but an inconvenience. Again, the swirl.

But it is possible to stop the swirl of despair, especially if you go local.

My older brother Bill and his wife, Mary, live outside Philadelphia. Yes, that makes him Bill Clinton but not that Bill Clinton. (I also have a sister named Monica. Another time.) They both felt frustrated and heartbroken by national politics and wanted to DO something. Although, or because, their district is heavily Republican, Bill decided to run as a Democrat for their local town council. For months he knocked on doors, and talked with his die-hard Republican neighbors. After they ranted about the other Bill Clinton, they vented about George Bush and Rick Santorum. My brother argued they should channel their anger into a vote for him. His victory was one of the most cheering, proud moments I’ve had in a long time.

In Provincetown this summer, I began to notice rainbow flags on guest houses, businesses, private homes. I assumed they were the traditional gay flags, but then I noticed the white block letters of PEACE over the rainbow stripes. Each day I noticed more and more flags. One night I biked by a simple candlelight vigil on the post office steps, and found the seller of the flags.

Tracey Primavera, a New York City transplant, is a massage therapist and has been active in Ptown’s anti-war group, which has held a vigil in front of Town Hall every Saturday for five and a half years. She said she wanted more; she wanted to be for something. Each night she sold flags to locals and to vacationers from all over the world. She said being pro-peace offered more of an opening than being anti-war. With each sale or no-sale, conversation happened.

Interrupt your version of swirl. Get involved in electoral politics and speak out for peace. Knock on some doors. Hang out your rainbow peace flag.