Saturday, October 30, 2004
October 31, 2004
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
I did my civic duty! I exercised my Constitutional right! I voted!
It wasn’t easy. I told You about the first time I tried to vote by mail-in ballot and Viola’s cat, Boomer knocked my pencil off course, straight into the oval next to John Kerry’s name. I had no sooner finished erasing it when Viola knocked my hand while she was lunging to get the phone and made me vote for Kerry again!
Then there were a few days off when I thought You would cancel the elections because of the missing 380 tons of explosives. I thought You’d say it wouldn’t be SAFE! for the Flip-Flopping Frenchman to be president with all those weapons in terrorist hands. Why bother to vote? It would be like going to a ball game when you know it’s going to get rained out.
When I realized You were going to hold elections after all, I tried to vote again, but something really weird happened. Just as I was about to vote for You, an invisible hand with supernatural strength pulled my hand away. After a death-struggle, it forced my hand to vote for Kerry again.
By the time I erased the blackened oval next to John F. Kerry, President for the third time, I had worn a hole all the way through. So--it was off to my precinct, where I went to pick up a “provisional ballot.” You’ll never guess what I saw when I got there--lawyers! There were more lawyers than the OJ Simpson trial!
The lawyers swarmed all over me. I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger being mobbed by adoring fans who wanted my autograph. Actually, what the adoring lawyers wanted was to give me their card. I kept telling them they had the wrong person. “I’m not holding a raffle!” I announced. “There is no trip to Hawaii!” I shouted.
But that didn’t stop the card-giving lawyers. Pretty soon, my shirt pockets, pant pockets, and jacket pockets were bulging. As I walked toward the line, I left a trail of lawyer cards falling like confetti behind me.
Getting the provisional ballot was easy. All I had to do was tell them my name and my party. When I said, “Republican,” the nice lady smiled and said, “No problem. Here’s your ballot, Mr. Estrada.”
As I was leaving, I saw a young African-American man being questioned by authorities. He said he was a Democrat and was voting for the first time. Several guards led him to a back room, and I thought I heard somebody say something about a “strip search.” He must have done something really bad!
Anyway, I got home, went straight to my desk where I laid down my ballot, sharpened my No. 2 pencil, in breathless anticipation of finally voting for You. I found the oval next to Your name:
George W. Bush, President
Dick Cheney, Vice President
I checked and double-checked, and when I was sure I had the right oval, I lowered my No. 2 pencil toward it, preparing to do my sacred duty and blacken it in, and in so doing, cast my vote for My President. My pencil was almost touching the paper, when I heard a voice:
I jumped! I looked around, but saw no one.
“Who’s there?” I asked.
“Who do you THINK it is, Carl?”
“How should I know? You sound like Aretha Franklin! Where are you?”
“Carl, honey...This ain’t Aretha. This is God speaking.”
“God?!” I exclaimed. “I always thought God sounded like James Earl Jones.”
“Heh, heh, heh,” she laughed. “James Earl Jones--that’s a good one! Do you know who James Earl Jones plays? He plays Darth Vader!”
“He’s also the voice for CNN,” I offered.
She laughed again. “You like math--YOU add that one up. Anyway, we got more important things to talk about. Who you gonna vote for today, child?”
“If you were God, you’d know the only person I could ever vote for is My President!”
“Zat so? I wonder why that is?”
“Well, for one reason--speaking of God--He consults regularly with His “higher father.”
Do you know what the Aretha Franklin voice did? She laughed and laughed and laughed. I couldn’t see her so I don’t know if she had a belly, but if she did, it would be a belly laugh. When she stopped belly laughing, she said:
“Oh honey--you folks are so confused! That nincompoop president of yours thinks he’s talkin to God! He ain’t talkin’ to God, child! He’s talkin’ to Darth Vader!”
“Darth Vader?! This is sacrilege! Darth Vader is the Doctor of Dark. The Demon of Doom. Why should I believe you that My President is talking to Darth Vader?”
“I didn’t say he’s ALWAYS talkin’ to Darth Vader. Sometimes your president thinks he’s talkin’ to his Darth Vader God, but guess who he’s really talkin’ to? Dick Cheney! Ooo-ee! That bad boy tilts the side of his mouth up and throws his voice, and he’s so good at it, sometimes he almost fools ME!”
She belly laughed some more. “This is crazy!” I said. “I’ve wasted enough time already! I don’t know who you are, but I want you to leave right now so I can vote for My President!”
“Carl honey, listen to me,” she said in an eerie whisper. I thought I heard Aretha somewhere far away, singing Chain of Fools.
“Child, who do you think made Boomer knock your hand away when you were trying to vote? Who do you think made the phone ring and sent your wife bashing into you?
“Whose invisible hand do you think wrestled you away last time you tried to vote for your president?
“Carl...I’m not going to force you anymore. I just want you to listen very carefully to me, and when I’m done having my say, I’ll go away and let you vote any way you want. You listenin’?”
“Do I have a choice?” I asked.
“Sho-nuff you don’t, honey” she replied. Then she began:
“Remember a time, back 40 years ago, when y’all thought you were going to make the world a better place? Remember when Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country...’?
“Remember how Martin Luther King had a dream? Remember how you shared his dream: ‘With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood...’?
“Remember when John Lennon sang, ‘All You Need is Love,’ and you BELIEVED him?
“What happened to your dream, Carl? What happened to your vision of a human race that was generous and kind and wanted to preserve and share the bounty of this wonderful planet? What happened to a people who wanted to live in harmony with nature and each other?
“I’ll tell you what happened: You got lazy, greedy, and scared. Life got too easy. You had your tv tellin’ you how to think; you had your malls where you could buy any damn thing you wanted any damn time; and if you didn’t have enough money you could borrow like there was no tomorrow!
“You kept crankin’ out kids; you kept knockin’ down forests and farms; you kept building bigger houses where the forests and farms used to be, and you called the streets, ‘Forest Lane’ cause there used to be a forest there or ‘Farm Hill Road’ cause there used to be a farm there; then you needed two cars instead of one; you needed bigger cars that guzzled more gas but you didn’t want to pay more for it cause your credit card bill was gettin’ pretty hefty...
“Meantime, you got hypnotized by your tv, and the pictures kept coming faster and the talkers kept talking faster and to make it interesting, they told you RIGHT-WRONG! GOOD-BAD! BLACK-WHITE!; and they all yelled at once and they insulted each other and taught you to yell and insult and say, ‘BLACK & WHITE! ALL or NOTHING!’
“And your tv told you: ‘EAT! EAT! EAT! BUY! BUY! BUY! I WANT I WANT I WANT! I NEED I NEED I NEED!’ And then one day, Kennedy and King and Lennon were a black & white memory on an old tv show, and here’s what you said:
‘I’ve got mine, Jack.’
“So you started protecting your little piece of the pie. You had kids to raise, and retirement to think about, and it was a damn shame about all the suffering people; and you saw a tv show about the polar ice caps melting--there was even a movie about it--but whatever. There ain’t nothin’ you could do about it anyway...
“Then the Twin Towers got hit and lordy, lord! The whole world changed on that day, you said. Truth was--you just got a taste of what most of the world had been tasting all along! And even then, most of y’all didn’t get much of a taste--y’all just saw it on your tv!
“But some of you really DID get a taste, and the rest of you got scared cause you thought maybe you WOULD be tasting it soon. You got REAL scared!
“Then along comes the cowboy! Now y’all know he ain’t no cowboy, but he pretends to be. And y’all go along with that. He’s a spoiled rich kid but he pretends to be a ‘man of the people.’ And y’all go along with THAT. He pretends to care about y’all, but all he cares about is linin’ his ‘n’ his friends’ pockets.
“Why do y’all go along? It’s easy--you been watching too much tv! You’ve had LOTS O’ PRACTICE goin’ along with the program. And here comes a cowboy who says he’s tough and he’s gonna make you SAFE! You say, ‘Uh-huh! That’s what I want!’
“And the cowboy tells you to get back to your lives! Go to the mall and do your patriotic duty and shop! And you say, ‘Uh-huh! That’s what I want!’
“He says, Don’t ask questions. Leave it to me. I’ll take care of it for ya. And you say, ‘Uh-huh. That’s what I want.’
“Truth is: You know he’s a lying chump! There ain’t one thing this chump is good at. He ain’t even good at LYIN’! You just good at BELIEVIN’ him! He could tell you the moon’s made of cheese, and y’all would ask, ‘Jack or cheddar?’
“I ain’t gonna spend all day tellin’ you all his lies--you KNOW what they are: Clean Air, Blue Skies, Healthy Forests, WMD(s), Imminent Threat, We’re Makin’ Progress, No Child Left Behind, Support Our Troops, Compassionate Conservative...Lies, lies lies! If you ask him his name, the chump will tell you, ‘Eddie,’ just cause he can’t bring himself to tell the truth!
“The chump’s daddy fixed his DUI’s and fixed him up in Yale and fixed him up in the National Guard. So what does he do? He goes AWOL and makes a career of dissing war heroes.
“Speaking of war heroes: You’ve got a real one running for president. His name is John Kerry. YOU saw him--you saw the debates. Dude is smart. Dude is honest. Dude is level-headed, able, and doesn’t blink under fire. Truth is, he’s a lot smarter, more level-headed, and more able than YOU are, and for the life of me, Carl Estrada, I don’t know why you think that’s a BAD thing!
“I’m almost done, so hear me now...You’ve got a choice like you’ve never had before, and it might be the last time you get to choose, so you’d better get it right.
“Look deep in your heart, Carl, and while you’re at it, it wouldn’t hurt to think a little too. The man you’ve been supporting has ruined almost everything he’s touched in his life. He’s well on the way to ruining the country and the planet. He’s talkin’ to the worst part of you. He’s talkin’ to your mean spirit and your small mind.
“You have another choice: You can remember the dreams you had a long time ago... Dreams about lifting each other up; about finding the best in each other and yourself; about serving more than taking; about creating a world you are proud to give to your children.
“Carl...” (Her voice was fading away...) “Find the love in your heart. Find your generosity. Find your bigger, expanded self, and you will do the right thing.”
I had to strain to hear her. But then...
“NO, I TAKE IT BACK! YOU’RE THE DENSEST PERSON I’VE EVER SEEN! I’LL SPELL IT OUT: CARL ESTRADA, I ORDER YOU TO VOTE FOR JOHN KERRY!”
Then I heard “Chain-chain-chain... Chain of fools...” drifting farther and farther in the distance, softer and softer until there was silence.
You can imagine the confusion in my mind, Sir. I know You talk to God all the time, but this was a first for me. You never told me God sounds like Aretha Franklin. You learn something every day.
Anyway, I hope you don’t mind that I voted for John Kerry. You know how it is when God gives an order--you don’t ask questions. Anyway, I don’t think one vote will make that much of a difference, do You? Oregon seems pretty solid for Kerry. It’s a good thing I don’t live in Ohio or Florida!