minting new Naderites
Sunday, August 15 2004
Every Sunday morning a left-leaning political show called In Your Face is filmed in front of an audience at the Colony Café in Woodstock. Gretchen often goes, having been introduced to it by our friends, Mr. and Ms. Eagles Nest. We've also become friends with the power couple who help to produce it; they even came over to our house for a bottle of wine the other night. Today's featured speaker would be Jason West, the 26 year old Green Party mayor of New Paltz. (Yes, New Paltz is that kind of place.) West made a name for himself nationally a few months ago when New Paltz became the second place in the United States to solemnize weddings for gay couples. New Paltz may be something of a People's Republic, but the surrounding of Ulster County is actually a detached fragment of red state; it went for Bush-Cheney in 2000. Ulster County officials quickly moved to bring criminal penalties against West, but (in keeping with the spirit of the show he would appear on today) he kept on marrying couples anyway, over 200 so far. He's a ballsy guy, certainly, but the prospect of seeing him wasn't really why I went to In Your Face today.
Also coming to the event were Lin and Mark, our Lake-Hill-house-sitting friends from Brooklyn. Mark brought Lin's Macintosh laptop, which managed to find an open WiFi connection in the Colony Cafe (good to know!). So he spent most of the show surfing the web, researching inexpensive fixer-upper real estate in Greene County. He and Lin are thinking about buying a weekend place.
As for the show itself, I don't usually get very jazzed about clever folk songs about the awfulness of George W. Bush and today was no exception. In Your Face mostly consists of that sort of thing, and it's not preferred method of political uptake.
The conversation with Jason West was the most interesting part of the show of course. After talking about same-sex marriage and the legal basis for it in New York State, the interview changed to the subject of John Kerry and whether or not "anybody but Bush" is a sound political concept. I was dismayed to hear West using the Nader talking points, that we should vote our conscience because the Democratic party has dropped the ball as an opposition party. At this point he made some valid arguments: that the Senate is supposed to advise and consent, and yet Kerry voted to appoint Antonin Scalia as a Supreme Court Justice and John Ashcroft as Attorney General. West's point was that if our concern is about the composition of the Supreme Court and the cabinet, why didn't Kerry take appropriate action when he could have as Senator? It was a good point, and West's interviewer (a Kerry supporter and notorious womanizer) couldn't muster any kind of response. Mark (an incorrigible Naderite and pot fiend) stopped surfing the web long enough to go nuts with applause. There was nothing unexpected about that, but I didn't expect Gretchen (recalcitrant lefty, poet, and one-time lesbian union organizer) to go nuts too. Suddenly she was a Naderite too! Gretchen's support for Kerry was never strong, but we'd been grudgingly in agreement on such philosophies as "anybody but Bush" and "desperate times call for the least of two evils." Now suddenly she was proclaiming she was voting for Nader, at least in a state as reliably Kerry's as New York. I was disgusted. "Come on, you don't need to be encouraging that asshole. He needs to be put in a nursing home before he causes any more damage to this country!" I protested. "God, Gus, I can't believe you're so right wing!" Gretchen replied. "That's it; when I get home, I'm putting that John Kerry sticker on my truck!" I shot back. It was clear we were going to have to agree to disagree.
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