Nick Flynn
Nick Flynn is a writer, poet, and playwright. His most recent book is The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands.

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REASON 95: The play is over, let’s go home.

Remember, if you can, how it felt. Remember Cheney, remember his sneer. Remember what it did to that knot in your back every time you failed to turn away from the television in time and accidentally glanced at his face. Remember that knife blade twisting. Remember Rumsfeld (even on his elementary school playground he was known as “Bully Don”). Remember his backslapping Halliburton buddies. Remember how they laughed after he testified as to what he did or did not know about Pat Tillman’s death (he couldn’t recall a thing). Remember what he didn’t know or couldn’t recall about Abu Ghraib. Why was he smiling? Remember how small and sharp their teeth were when they laughed. Remember it seemed they were always laughing at you (but know they never thought about you, not even once). Remember how awful you felt every time you heard one of their voices on the radio. Remember dragging yourself across the kitchen floor to shut NPR off.

Under the dark and endless Bush years it felt like a cloud was following me. It felt like the sky was six inches over my head—that the very air was nihilistic. During those dark years one of Bush’s minions called the rest of us (now we are sometimes called the 99 percent) the “reality-based community,” which was to say that his people were the ones who made history, and the rest of us merely played out our little roles. And it was true, in a way, in that grand yet shabby theater we were caught in, gaudy and empty and expensive, with private boxes and velvet ropes and golden faucets and baroque curlicues and fat, happy putti painted on the walls.

Remember Karl Rove, the director of that unendingly terrible play we woke up to every morning: the one where statues of Saddam were pulled down by actors; where Pat Tillman was not killed by his own men; where a million people came out on the streets in every city in the world to march against invading Iraq and it meant nothing; where Colin Powell could shake a little vial of baby powder at the United Nations and call it anthrax, and we woke up ten years later still at war.

Remember John Yoo. Remember his tortured legalese, which set in motion our transformation into a nation that openly sanctioned torture. Remember: these people are world-class assholes, bullies, and thugs. None of these people are gone. None of them are dead, not yet—remember that. They will be paraded out once again if Romney stumbles his way into the White House. They will fill our brainpans for the next four to eight years if we don’t vote Obama back in.

Obama is wise and flawed and compromised and trying, like everyone else I know. For all that hasn’t happened these past four years, I no longer wake up each morning feeling like I’m caught in a bad, unending play. I no longer feel that every single one of the things that make up what I think of as meaningful (children, health, air, tolerance, etc.) is being trivialized, marginalized, and crushed under the wheels of a fleet of black limos. I feel like I now wake up in the real world, the world we all live in. It can be better, of course, but it is real.

I will vote for Obama—that was decided thirty years ago. There was never a chance I’d vote for an empty deathhead like Romney. I know it’s hard, I know we aren’t exactly living the revolutionary change we might have (naively) expected, but it’s time to do what we can to prevent four or eight or a hundred years of these smarmy thugs parading around our brains. That play is over, it sucked every single night of its run, and now we are walking home. While we were huddling in the dark, the world got torn apart, and lots of neighborhoods now are either dying from neglect or dead from money. I simply try to avoid the ones that are dead from money, but the ones dying from neglect deserve another shot. Let’s go home. Everything will be all right. Let’s go home.

Nick Flynn
 Brooklyn, New York


REASON 58:
It is absolutely the role of government to invest in education and jobs. read essay →

REASON 78:
President Obama is serious about reintegrating our soldiers into civilian life—and he proved it.read essay →

REASON 88:
Obama has worked to end the war on drug users.read essay →