The dust has settled on the election and your side lost. Big time. But don't give up hope. Remember, you don't have to face this bleak future alone. Although it may now feel like you're surrounded on all sides by gloating conservatives — especially if you live in parts of Zephyrhills — keep in mind that there are still a few dozen folks out there who see things your way. So, to help you through this troubling time, your friends at the Planet have thrown together this handy list of coping techniques for distraught liberals.
* Allow yourself to grieve: Are you mad as hell at the rest of the I-4 corridor? Do you catch yourself quietly sobbing in your cubicle? Those are perfectly normal emotions and you shouldn't feel ashamed to let them out.
It's not uncommon to go through the stages of grief — denial, anger, depression, etc. — after a particularly bitter election defeat. (Although the "bargaining" stage won't help you much here; after all, God's on W's side.) Some general advice: Take your time. Remember that some things are beyond your control. Don't forget to eat. And because you're in a vulnerable state of mind, try to avoid making any life-altering decisions — such as canceling your subscription to Mother Jones.
However you deal with this setback, you'll eventually want to reach the final stage: acceptance. Six months from now, if you're still obsessing over Ohio's provisional ballots, it's probably time to get your head shrunk.
* Join a church: Hey, everybody's doing it — and if you wait too long, Uncle Sam may assign you one.
We suggest starting out slowly, perhaps showing up for a potluck dinner with the Unitarians or dropping in on a Quaker service. After getting your feet wet, you can seek solace at some of the crunchier Methodist congregations, attend Holy Eucharist at a gay-friendly Episcopal church or share fellowship with progressive Presbyterians.
Make sure, however, that you limit your religious explorations to Christian denominations. You don't want to end up on a no-fly list.
* Cultivate a drug habit: There's nothing better for taking your mind off your troubles like a smack rush. Those on a tight budget may want to opt for crack, but be warned that the escapist effects don't last as long and you may end up not being able to remember where you pawned your car. If you don't feel ready to jump right into the hard shit, may we recommend OxyContin, better known as "heroin lite." It's hip, plentiful, relatively affordable — and it's the drug of choice among right-wing radio personalities.
* Leave the country: Start your own Lost Generation. If you're white, you might want to grow a beard, begin drinking heavily and get involved in other countries' civil wars, you know, like Hemingway. Black ex-pats can rent a flat on the Left Bank, write some poetry and become gay, a la James Baldwin. French companies offer better vacation benefits, anyway.
Think about it: You'll never have to worry about low-carb dieting while shacking up with an Italian sexpot in Rome. You can drive as fast as you want on the Autobahn. And, best of all, there's no such thing as Fox News Europe.
* Write a book: You know what they say: Get it down on paper. The best way to work through your issues is to confront them through written introspection. And once you've finished, there's wicked cash to be made in publishing your half-baked, quasi-political rantings. Have you looked at the New York Times best-seller list lately? If Ann Coulter can make millions writing "nonfiction" books, then you're Alexis de Tocqueville.
* Get into heavy denial: Hey, it works for Republicans, who simply become more "optimistic" as the war in Iraq gets worse. You'll want to move to a leftist enclave — say, Seminole Heights or Grand Central. Do all your shopping at natural food stores, such as Nature's Harvest. Cancel cable TV and the newspaper. Don't listen to the radio, except for WMNF or Air America. Replace Newsweek with The Progressive or, better yet, limit your media intake to left-wing blogs. Join a yoga class. Plant an organic garden. Find a drum circle that's right for you. Do not, under any circumstances, attempt to venture into the Panhandle. Hunker down and prepare to create your own reality for the next four (eight? 12?) years.
Of course, the problem with this suggestion is that they'll know where to find you when it comes time to fill up the liberal internment camps.
* If you can't beat 'em ... Look, we're not suggesting anyone actually defect to the Dark Side. But there are ways of making your liberal-ness less conspicuous to the red-state masses in order to avoid harassment and unnecessary police surveillance. Don't read Salon.com at work. Hide your sandals in the back of your closet. Remember not to listen to the Indigo Girls in public. Leave issues of Field and Stream and your Sam's Club card out where visitors can see them. Lose the nose ring. Order pork instead of tofu. Never admit that you enjoy NPR, much less "Prairie Home Companion." Try to learn the names of five NASCAR drivers. Send contributions to the Sierra Club in unmarked envelopes.
And if you happen to be one of the three liberals living in Palm Harbor, you'll want to be even more proactive in staying under the right-wing radar. We suggest investing in a politically incorrect bumper sticker, such as: "What's our oil doing under their sand?" or "Keep honking. I'm reloading!"