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Learning to Live With a Bush Dynasty, in Five Uneasy Stages

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Yes, George W. Bush is still your president.

You allowed your hopes to get up, didn’t you? New Yorkers should know better. Yet, sparked by the Kerry campaign’s last-minute surge of energy—not to mention those distressingly bullish early exit polls—there was the glimmer of a different world. You thought your country might be welcoming you back into its glowing amber bosom. And all the skepticism you had to overcome in order even to silently hold the thought that Kerry could win made the moment of defeat all the more bitter.

If you’re wondering how you’ll make it through the next four years without that bitterness eating you alive, relax. It should pass as quickly as a street-vendor hot dog, so long as you recognize that you are going through the five stages of mourning.

Denial.
New Yorkers, being famously hardheaded, cycle through this stage pretty quickly. But here are telltale signs you’re not yet a member of the reality-based community:

You are still playing with Electoral College vote tabulators on the Web.

You are writing pedantic letters to the editor about how electronic voting is a vast right-wing conspiracy.

You are on a plane to Akron to oversee the processing of provisional ballots.

Anger.
This one may take a while. It is already a signature New York emotion, and it offers a wide range of possible expressions. There’s the adorably passive-aggressive: flipping the bird as you pass the Fox News building; writing anti-Bush graffiti on whatever space for it still remains in the Bedford Avenue subway stop; adopting Giuliani as a vulgar verb. And there’s the borderline criminal: assassination reveries; plots to use swing voters as stem-cell test subjects; fantasies of hijacking the Supreme Court for some long-overdue Bush v. Gore payback.

But most will fall somewhere between these two extremes. You will bitch incessantly to friends and make crude jokes about ignorant red-staters. Still, try not to blame Ohio—or other swing states that let you down—as if they were monolithic formations of turncoats. A petition already circulating online to “boycott” the Buckeye State presumably would hurt the 49 percent of Ohioans who agree with you. If you feel the need for direct confrontation, try seeking out a conservative S&M fetishist on Craigslist.com. Not only will you experience the sweet relief that only physical violence can bring, but you might get paid. Plus there’s the added satisfaction of knowing you’re doing your part to undermine family values.

Bargaining.
It’s too late for that Votergasm ballots-for-sex thing. Sorry.

Depression.
Again, not something that New Yorkers need a great deal of instruction in. However, you may be experiencing symptoms specific to the prospect of hearing your commander-in-chief mispronounce nuclear for another four years. Do you have dreams about goose-hunting—only to find that you’re the goose? Are you lying awake at night replaying Swift Boat ads in your head? Do you still feel guilty about giving money to Dean?

There isn’t a cure for this syndrome, but you can treat its more painful manifestations. This would be an excellent time, for example, to learn how to make bathtub gin. It will keep you busy—and distracted from such grim pastimes as handicapping future Bush nominees to the Supreme Court. More important, it will orient you toward the future: Once every state has outlawed gay marriage by voter initiative, it’s but a short step to reenacting Prohibition.

Acceptance.
Ah, yes. You’ve stopped fighting it. You may even have started to give in. Have you exchanged your Soho House membership for one in the NRA? Has NASCAR replaced Sopranos reruns on your TiVo? Maybe William Kristol’s foreign positions are starting to sound reasonable. But remember, New York: You don’t have to go that far. Acceptance doesn’t have to be surrender. You can come to terms with Bush-Cheney II, but only as a challenge. In fact, combine your bitter politics with your Gotham obsessions. Buy Michael Moore a Coney dog. Get Eliot Spitzer moving on a suit against the Diebold company. Oh, and by all means: Kick Curt Schilling in the ankle.


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