Dear D.C.,

As you said, our differences are fundamental. Personally, I’m disillusioned about the talks we’ve been having. Even though, as you know, I’ve really enjoyed them — seriously! — it sure looks like neither of us is likely to change the other’s attitude toward the smallest issue.

Today and tomorrow I’m taking “sick/personal days” to get out the vote for Democrats in Maryland. In this election there is, for me, a bare glimmer of hope that some day, somehow, this long nightmare will be over. Oh, it’s still possible that Bush and Cheney will decide that the 2008 elections are unnecessary and declare martial law instead. And even if they don’t heed that temptation, there is almost no limit to the terror and grief they can cause in the next two years, even as lame ducks. Still, even so, I feel a glimmer of hope… and even a glimmer is more hope than I’ve felt in these six terrifying bloody years.

Might we actually climb out of this hell-hole someday? There is still possibly some small chance. Even after the turnaround, if there is one, it will take us decades to recover, such is the unimaginable damage that has been deliberately caused by these people. Still, it is at least conceivable that our children will grow up in an America not controlled by an entrenched kleptocracy and their secret police; it is just possible that our children need never worry that if they say something the President or the President’s watchful minions don’t like, they might be captured and disappear forever and be tortured until they die. How should I warn my children about this, D.C.? It’s impossible — and yet they need to know!

This is not the world I wanted for them. Check the legislation again, D.C. Don’t second-guess it, just read the words. The people running this country have legislated for themselves the “right” to imprison indefinitely, and to torture, anyone they don’t like. It’s that simple! — and how can anyone in the world think it’s a good deal? To cause hideous suffering, just because they want to! — this is the prerogative Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice are claiming for themselves. Why on Earth should they have that, and what kind of people are they, that they would even want it? What is wrong with them?

And then have the chutzpah to say this is a way of protecting the American people!

They are worse than criminals, they are blind, random, pointless, pitiless, destructive forces, like a tornado or a hurricane or a flow of lava. They are the worst thing to happen to this country in a long, long time, and still millions if people respect them and root for them. And if you ask me, all of their supporters are accessories to their crimes. All of them agreed that spending a trillion dollars to invade Iraq and kill half a million people was a good idea.

Thought experiment. If we had really had a trillion dollars to spend — we didn’t, but that’s a whole different subject — had we had a trillion dollars to spend on this “crucial” project, instead of casually blowing away those five hundred thousand people (the vast majority of them perfectly innocent!) we could have given each of them two million dollars. I bet they wouldn’t “hate our freedoms” then!

Torture is never good, and war is never good. Yes, it’s just as you said: we have fundamental differences.

I think that people who carry out torture and war are criminals, and that those who help them do their work are accessories. I think that such people deserve our protest, our resistance, and even our hate. But though we hate their violence, we will not answer it with violence. That is not our way, because we believe that there is almost always a better solution — and I mean better for everyone.

You see, the liberal philosophy is that it would be nice if everyone were happy. Whereas, the conservative philosophy is that it would be nice if all the conservatives were happy; everyone else can go to hell. (Libertarians? Let’s not even go there.) This was Reagan’s astonishing discovery: you can win votes by reassuring your “base” that there is no reason at all for them to care for anyone else. They’ll be so relieved!

Of course you can’t tell them that you don’t believe in caring about them, either. But chances are, they’ll never figure it out. What an innovation! What a boon to the Republican party! As an “elected representative,” you can say absolutely anything, and then do whatever you want. You just plain don’t have to care about anyone, except for your closest, richest friends. This is the Reagan legacy: the promise and the temptation of absolute domination. Of government by the criminal element. Of government where he rises to the top who hesitates the least to hurt others, and who is the happiest liar.

Torture is evil. Torture is practically the definition of evil. And our administration stands up in public and demands the liberty to use it ad libitum! Don’t they know how sick that makes them look? Do they really not care, perhaps because they are insulated from all harm? But what about when they’re no longer in power? Won’t they be vulnerable to prosecution then? — and don’t you think that exactly this consideration is tempting them very much to stay in power, no matter what it takes? Isn’t that what they’ve been doing all along? What could ever give us the confidence that they would moderate their power in any way?

Right now we are “this close” to losing everything that ever made the United States a good idea. And everyone who voted for Bush — especially those who did it twice — should be begging forgiveness from the rest of us for buying into Bush’s lies and helping him try to destroy our country.

But I’m a generous person — more generous than any Republican can even imagine — and for each and every one of y’all I have a friendly proposal. Vote only for Democrats for the next six years, and we’ll forgive you. Why? — because we believe in being good to people. To all people. In other words: we’re Democrats.