Everyone’s talking the finer points of Fahrenheit 9/11. The Lies. The Truth. You conservative bastard. Now listen here you commie liberal. Michael Moore’s a documentarian. No, his film is editorializing at its worst! Calm down, folks. It’s only a movie. It’s only a war. And it’s only our country.
Last Sunday Susie and I made our way to the American Film Institute Theater in Silver Spring to see for ourselves. No matter where you live on the political sphere, the film is provocative. But I’m not here to speak about that. I’m here to talk about the crowd.
I can’t remember when I’ve felt so in sync with total strangers. I felt so comforted and loved. Yes, that gooey feeling that I was connected to someone.
We got to the theater early to get a good seat. We knew it would be packed. We were third in line. It was, of course, a partisan group. The couple in front of us seemed to know everyone who walked in. Each time a group would arrive they would stop for a welcome hug and a little chat. I wanted to hug them too.
As more and more people showed up I waited for someone–anyone I knew. Like the couple in front of us, I wanted to put my arms around each person and welcome them to the fold. “Liberals are we. Equal rights for all are we. Narrow-minded nuts are THEY,” we would sing.
Only after the first two hundred open-minded citizens passed us did I realize the Marx Brothers were playing in Theater 2. Oh, it didn’t matter. I was euphoric. Finally, I was not alone. Marx and Moore: a powerful combination.
Despite what conservatives would like the nation (and world) to think, there are many of us intelligent and loyal American liberals walking the byways of this country. But it’s hard to tell just whom you’re bumping into walking down the street. We aren’t politicized zealots and ideologues. We don’t generally wear our political beliefs on our sleeve.
But perhaps we should. We could wear our 9/11 movie ticket stubs on our lapels and shirts to let others know we’ve seen IT. Wouldn’t it make you feel good to know the entire subway car on your commute home was filled with like-minded soft-core politicos? It would make our eight hours of bureaucratic hell worthwhile. Something to look forward to. The martini for the new millennium. Let’s have a secret wink that says we know the truth.
Now I am not a joiner. Last week a young Democratic National Committee intern on the streets of DC stopped me. Would I consider giving money to the Kerry campaign to defeat George Bush? I stopped and looked directly into his eyes. I paused just long enough for added effect. It was my father in me, ready to deliver my pointed and thought out opinion –something I had banked long ago for just such an occasion. I was ready to deliver my critical two cents. “I will give to the Dems when they stop acting like wusses and take the upper hand in the political debate,” I responded. He winced. “You know, you’re the third person today to say that,” he replied. Damn straight. I gave him the secret wink and moved on.
This isn’t just about the election, as important as it is. It’s about finding the real America, my own America, amongst the flotsam of political and partisan spin. The comfort within that film crowd, the implicit sharing of important social beliefs, and the possibility that I could actually contribute –that I actually wanted to contribute– was something I hadn’t felt in a long time.
I was starting to feel like an American again.