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Sunday, November 28, 2004

THE DISSIDENT 

TAPPING THE LOWER DEPTHS
By Jack Random

It was not the rage or the sorrow that ripped his life apart. It was humiliation.

John Christianson had abandoned his cause, the cause of independence, the cause he had worked for tirelessly and selflessly for more than a decade. He had built an organization that operated in twenty seven states. They were a force on the political landscape. His was an important voice, one that demanded to be heard.
It would have been easier if he had been seduced in the traditional manner of political operatives but he was immune to the temptations of influence, power or money. He could not be bought and he could not be corrupted. He was secure in his life. He was committed and responsible. There was nothing outside the cause that he desired or needed. For the first time in his life, he had everything. Most importantly, he was engaged in a relationship of mutual trust, respect and affection. If Maggie was not the center of his life, she was at the center. She centered John, bringing together his diversity of thought, interests and dreams. She balanced his ambitions with a firm grasp of the earth. She satisfied his animal need as he satisfied hers.

Everything changed on the morning the towers fell.

Looking out the high-perched windows over Puget Sound, he imagined the devastation of a war come home. He saw the plumes of magnificent bombs rising from Farmer’s Marker. He saw the Space Needle buckle and collapse. He witnessed the beautiful horror of the Sound on fire. He saw chaos in swarms of unbridled humanity and the birth of anarchy. The orchestra was tuned to cacophony and the smell of degradation was palpable as smoke. He secretly desired to experience it all.

He knew at once his cause was dead. With the swiftness of Louisiana lightning, the answer to every question had become war. The only response that mattered now was No! No! to the end of an age of civil liberties! No! to the blackmail of international communities! No! to the wars and the lies that justified them! No! to lawlessness and the occupation of foreign lands!

He understood at once that a window of opportunity had slammed shut. No one cared about the politics of independence now. It didn’t matter that any cause would eventually come face to face in opposition to the two-party system. Now was not the time. Now there was only the matter of war.

With the blessings of his allies and comrades, he redirected his political campaign to defeat the administration in power, a presidency that promised to conduct forty years of war, an administration infused with the leaders of the oil industry, an administration incapable of responding to any crisis without a jerk of the knee.

Come October it all seemed worthwhile. The president was poised to lose his bid for a second term. Karl Rove and his band of dirty tricksters, however, were not done. They had brought Reagan back from the edge of disgrace in the Iran-Contra affair. They had resurrected Dick Nixon as an elder statesman. They had orchestrated a Supreme Court decision on the presidency of the United States of America. It was a gang that would never give up.

In retrospect, it was hard to tell how long they held their trump cards but they played them brilliantly and in tandem with a double slam to steal a second term. Irrationally, John blamed himself. How could he have been so naïve? He anticipated the last minute capture of Osama bin Laden and was prepared to counter it by going to the source and documenting the truth: that Pervez Musharef of Pakistan had captured Osama long ago and held him until the prescribed time as a favor to the American president. He did not, however, anticipate the profound effect of the evangelical movement. He anticipated the usual disenfranchisement, voter intimidation and selective fraud but he did not anticipate the lengths they would go to exploit electronic voting machines. Literally tens of thousands of votes were created and deleted by machines designed and coded by Republican operatives. Without a paper trail, it would be years before they could expose the fraud and by then a corporate media would have absolutely no interest. It would be recorded under the heading Conspiracy Theories, most of which would be validated half a century hence.

It was particularly disarming because John had at his disposal an army of hackers, the kind politicos can only dream of. It would have been easy to tilt the election the other way had they so chosen but an allegiance to the principles of democracy held them back. Now, in light of what had transpired, he would not have hesitated.

John was unprepared to counter the post 9-11 atmosphere of irrational support. Even if he had been able to prove that those in power had knowingly failed to prevent the attack for political purposes, it was lost on a mob that no longer bothered with fact.

Now, it was only academic. The reality that confronted him now was the undeniable failure of his life. He had squandered his years of labor. He was outplayed when it counted most and the cost of his failure would be measured in blood.

Maggie stood by him. She knew he was a man of many moods and she had guided him through many crises. She understood his struggles with the duality of his father. She was with him through the death of loved ones. She expected flaws, failures and disappointments but she was unprepared for how profoundly this defeated wounded him. She was a member of Congress. She had her own life. She could only spend so much of her time nursing him back to himself before he would turn his darkness against her. Even her understanding, patience and compassion would become daggers to his fragile psyche.

When John made a decision to withdraw from the world, Maggie was relieved. She went back to Washington and hoped that he would find a way to climb out of the hole he was digging for his own burial. She was surprised when he sent her the papers outlining the terms of divorce but she was not devastated. She understood. She would still be there if he returned to the world in one piece.

John went to his cabin on the Olympic Peninsula. It was a secluded location overlooking the ragged cliffs of the northern Pacific. This was where he had always felt alive. This was where he had discovered the spirit of the raven, conversed with ancient voices, and heard his first call to arms. This was the place that fed his soul and healed his wounds. This granite mountain and ocean air would breathe him back to life if there were any more to live.

John knew it would be long, hard road. He would descend ever deeper into the void before he could even begin to see the light. He knew he would come to hate everyone and everything he valued. He would turn that hatred against himself and, if he survived, he would emerge from the hole a man reborn with newly discovered purpose.

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