A Journey of a Thousand Miles ...

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… begins with a single step:

Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable. Here is a little glimpse into those unmanageable lives: ST. PAUL, Minn. – The president and first lady were surprised but thrilled by the selection of Sarah Palin to be John McCain’s running mate, Laura Bush said Monday in her first reflection on the GOP national ticket.

“I’m proud I’m going to get my wish to vote for a Republican woman,” Mrs. Bush said. O Modern Conservative: it’s time for you to take a long, unblinking look into the mirror.

You have a problem. You have an elephant problem.

You felt strong and carefree when you tipped back the glass and voted for Ronnie Reagan. I’m not being all holier-than-thou here … I took a big snort of Ol’ Ronnie, too.

You felt all stylish and grownup and sophisticated with your George Herbert Walker Bush cocktail in ’88. So did I. I know how it was.

You had another shot of Bush One in ’92. I didn’t join you for that one – I was in my first step or two – but I understand. Anything would be better than Billy C., right?

Next time, no more happy party atmosphere; you were drinking purely for anesthesia. You held your nose, steeled your gut, and tossed back an oily-looking glass of Dole ’96. Didn’t taste good, did it? And oooohh, man – that aftertaste! Especially when, within months, you were seeing Viagra commercials featuring Bobby D., and Pepsi commercials in which he was creepily drooling over tomorrow’s megaskank, Britney Spears. Good times, huh?

Then, in 2K, things just got worse. You found yourself back drinking out of the Ol’ Bush jug – the newer vintage this time – without being able to remember why. Same story in ’04. Both times, the alternative seemed to involve another beverage from That Other Distillery that also didn’t seem particularly healthy. (You were right – it wasn’t – but you had alternatives that went unexplored.)

And now, here it is, 2008, and you find yourself facing yet another Most Important Election Ever. (Funny how that seems to happen at clock-regular four-year intervals, isn’t it?) “Aw, what the heck,” you say, “one more can’t hurt.”

Wait. Stop. Look at the mirror. Like what you see? Do you look like that stylish, debonair fellow – only a little tipsy! – out celebrating on the town, the guy you thought you remembered being? Or do you look more like a stinking, unshaven stumblebum who’s about to be kicked out of yet another downscale bar?

Come on – let’s get a cup of coffee and a sandwich. Bankrupt though you are, one thing you really can afford is a big ol’ double shot of the truth, and I’m buying. Truth is, you don’t have a “movement.” Truth is, you don’t have a political party. Truth is, you don’t have a voice in the media. You have a rough, rough road ahead of you. I don’t see any political “success” in your future. You’re going to have to admit that you’ve been wrong about some things, and foolish about many more things still.

There are a few good things that you can look forward to, though. You can look forward to speaking honestly, without any regard for “party unity” or the necessity of winning this year’s Most Important Election Ever. You’ll be able to call a clown a clown, and not have to choke down your gorge as you make excuses for the inexcusable. You’ll be able to exercise what George Orwell said was the essence of freedom: being able to say that two and two make four. And when the question is “what’s the cube root of 537” and you’re temporarily in doubt, you’ll be able to just say so. It’s liberating.

Anyway, I’m Jim Wetzel, and I’m a recovering conservative. I’ve been sober for a little over eighteen years now. There’s a meeting here every single day, and there are daily meetings in lots of other places, too.

I’m hoping to see you around.

September 22, 2008

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