Monday, November 08, 2004

The Democratic relocation program

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I spent Election Day by the phone with the Yellow Pages on my lap open to "movers." I had my fingers on the buttons, ready to have U-Haul send a truck out to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.

I don't have to tell you how that bullshit turned out.

Now that we're all stuck watching the critically reviled Hollywood blockbuster "W II: The Second Coming" for another four dream-crushing years, all I want to do is find a nice rock somewhere and live under it. I want to drown my sorrows in bag after bag of potato chips made from blue-state Maine spuds. Fuck the red-state Idahoans. I want to find every Midwestern Bush voter, grab him or her by the nasal hair and demand that they explain, in five words or fewer, what in the world they were thinking, acting so clearly against the economic and social interests of themselves and their future generations.

To say I'm anticipating the future with utter dread is like saying cancer is unfriendly, or that the Pacific Ocean is moist. President Bush, in his speech outlining his next term, said that voters have given him "political capital" and he's going to spend it how he pleases. And we know what he wants -- a sequel with a bigger budget, more special effects, more villains and chase scenes, more explosions and diminished box office returns.

Progressives have two choices. Either we leave or we take the country back.

I've been rebounding between both choices on and off since Election Day.

When John Kerry gave his concession speech, my wife and I took our eyes off the TV and glanced at each other.

"Canada," she said.

"Canada," I agreed, and the sound of the word was like music. Canada! O, left-leaning Canada! Free health care Canada! English-speaking-most-of-the-time Canada! Friendly neighbor to the north, doors-unlocked, colorful-money, waffles-and-beer-for-breakfast Canada! From the halls of Labrador to the shores of Saskatchewan! The amber waves of Yukon grain! From the purple Montreal mountains' Metric System majesty to the fruited plains of Baffin Island!

I'm tempted. There's no fundamentalist red-state agenda in Canada -- the place has one-tenth America's population and is blissfully free from the reach of Bush's right-wing tentacles. The taxes are appalling, but I figured we'd just live more simply.

"We're gonna have our own little piece of land in Canada," my wife said. "You'll see. And we're gonna plant some carrots, some lettuce, some alfalfa for the rabbits--"

"The rabbits," I murmured. "Tell me again about the rabbits."

She nodded, stroking my hair and staring off to the north. "We'll keep them rabbits in a little hutch, safe from the mighty Canadian blizzards, and we'll build us a house made of caribou skins and hockey sticks."

Bolstered by the thought, I went online and started looking for a two-bedroom igloo somewhere near the border, close enough to make faces at America but far enough away to be upwind.

I didn't get very far when a Reuters news story stopped me. Its headline: "Unhappy Democrats need to wait to get into Canada."

"Canadian officials made clear on Wednesday that any U.S. citizens so fed up with Bush that they want to make a fresh start up north would have to stand in line like any other would-be immigrants -- a wait that could take up to a year," the story reads. By the time our application was processed, I surmised, it would be too late in the year to get the alfalfa in the ground.

If leaving is not the solution, then we have to take America back. We shouldn't flee the red states -- we should join them and use our votes to help tip the balance in our favor.

A progressive vote in Massachusetts is devalued currency -- but extra Democrats in the right battleground states could get things done.

So about five minutes ago I started the Democrat Relocation Program. It's an initiative to transplant liberals from places where there's a glut to states that desperately need them. My plan would transfer Democrats from Massachusetts to Missouri, from San Francisco to San Antonio, from Manhattan, N.Y., to Manhattan, Kansas.

I found several apartments on Yahoo!, for anybody who wants to join this fledgling movement. Take this lovely two-bedroom I found in Cleveland, Ohio, within spitting distance of Lake Erie (NOTE: please do not spit in Lake Erie--it's filthy enough as it is).

It's only $485 a month. By making the small sacrifice of living and voting in Ohio, you'd make a difference in lives of millions of Americans every four years.

The ad describes the apartment as "centrally situated minutes from Richmond Mall and the Cleveland Metroparks, yet only 17 minutes from downtown." Sounds wonderful -- right now, in Fall River, we're several hundred minutes from downtown Cleveland, so moving there would trim that considerably.

Or move to Toledo, Ohio, and get the beauty of having your vote mean something, plus the benefits of living in Toledo, of which I'm sure there are many. All of them escape me at the moment. There's a simply darling little apartment near the train tracks for only $850. Among the unit's features listed on the Web site are "smoke detectors," which is a fabulous new feature. Just like the movie stars have! Also, it has "mature landscaping," which I take to mean "old trees."

For an apartment further afield, try Milwaukee, America's cheap beer capital.

This year, Wisconsin was thought to be solidly pro-Kerry until late in the game, when the Bushies came out of the bushes. It ended up in Kerry's column, but it was much too close.

Wisconsin needs you. For just $27.83 a day -- that's $835 a month -- you can help this blue state stay blue.

The building "offers uncommon construction," according to the ad. In Realtor lingo, "uncommon construction" means the floor is built at a 50-degree angle and the roof is mounted vertically.

I looked up local businesses in the area of this place. There are eight packies within a three-mile radius, and the Miller Brewing Co. itself is five miles away. Everyone needs a watering hole.

For something more "centrally located," try Iowa. It's one of the closest states this election, and one of the Democrat Relocation Program's neediest recipients.

I found a swell place in Des Moines. It's easily commutable. By that I mean it's within walking distance -- yes, walking distance! -- of Des Moines International Airport.

No place I move to can be too far away from food. Luckily, this cozy nest has 21 pizza joints within two and a half miles. One of them is called Happy Joe's Pizza & Ice Cream -- I have it on good authority from an Iowan friend that the taco pizza is simply delish. But don't take my word for it. Become one of the many Democrats joining my program and see for yourself, for only $660 a month.

I just might join you, neighbor. Iowa soil is perfect for planting alfalfa. I checked.

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