This site is an epilogue or possibly a sequel to a website I ran in late 2004 called Sorry Everybody. That site was a response to a very disappointing presidential election, and this site is a response to a very promising one.
Four years and one day ago, the Democratic Party was dead, tens of millions of Americans proudly supported George Bush, and the only thing that half of America could do that evening—not the "left" half, not the urban or secular half, not some little cloisters of effete liberals, but fifty percent of our whole wonderful country—was engage in a little gallows humor, wonder what went wrong, and eventually, reach out to each other. I had a silly idea for a website on the right night, and some excellent friends gave me some excellent help. In a few days, through this "Sorry Everybody" thing, thousands and thousands of Americans and non-Americans used signs and pictures and funny faces and cats, to reassure each other that we weren't alone, to remember that one loss won't marginalize us forever. I was frankly unprepared at the time for the gravity of the thing. I'd seen it all through the safe, calculated lens of irony, and I was uncomfortable as the spokesperson for that much raw emotion, or the steward of all of this real grief. After a few months of watching people do extraordinary things through our little website, I felt at loose ends. A few vague ideas knocked around, but Sorry Everybody didn't belong to me, it belonged to the faces in that gallery. The notion of doing something else with it felt exploitative and I basically fled the scene. Years passed and interest slowed to a trickle.
In the past few weeks, I've received lots of emails asking me what I'm going to do with this website after the events of the 2008 election. I wasn't sure I wanted to do anything. The internet has changed in four years; now, high-school history teachers use the word "meme" in lecture, every children's hospital branch has a Flickr stream, and blogs are so easy to have that now they make a special 14-button power user computer mouse, and there's one button on it that just creates a brand new blog, somewhere on the Internet, every time you click it. What use is my voice? I made a joke that unexpectedly resonated, in a specific time and place, for a specific event. How am I relevant? What can I do now that can't be done with your mobile phone and a smoke break?
I didn't mention John Kerry much on Sorry Everybody and I'm not going to say much about Barack Obama now. Obama himself astutely observed that he was a symbol, that his campaign and the movement it spawned wasn't meant to elevate him personally, but to revitalize a certain kind of American thing. I am impressed with the guy and I have a good feeling about his administration, but this website, this election, and this country are not really about great men doing grand deeds; they are about great numbers of us, doing the simple, noble things that actually keep us free and safe and prosperous. Putting a picture on a website probably isn't one of those things. But I have a day job and I do good work. America's wheels are turning. Let's pat ourselves on the back tonight. We earned it.