Nov 4, 2004

Apocalypse Now...and Later!

Prepared To Be Stoned (however you take this!) Bush Wins The Armageddon Election!

If only we had a little more to paint Ohio blue.... Time for the Blues now?.

Today I came home from Cleveland, Ohio. The drive back was the longest, toughest, and most disheartening I've taken in my life. I had to listen to the biggest Dick Cheney's boasting about them having a mandate, and control of all branches of government.

I gave it all to affect change and turn this country around from the destructive path Bush has chosen. I drove thousands of miles, gave up thousands of dollars in paid work, slept on the floor & in my car, soaked by rain, dried up by the wind, and rode an emotional roller coaster. I don't regret it; I'm just very tired and devastated, because I take this defeat personally.

What I was predicting as the "October Surprise", that is, the Jesus factor--what Jesus would vote--turned out to be the November surprise! The religious fundamentalists flooded the polls and voted for their "moral values".

We in the reality-based community have to accept reality despite it being quite unpleasant now.The euphoria of de-throning the neo-cons and amidst the incredible mobilization of the progressive forces, we came to believe that change was finally at hand. We broke down the numbers, examined historical trends, we hoped those things would bear out our hopes. It didn't happen. Bush trumped historical currents, and tradition. Unless, of course, the election was stolen--and I'm not making this argument now, because I don't have the proof for such.

Numbers are just a tool, interpreting numbers and people's opinions is as much as art as science. I was wrong along with many others, much smarter than me, who made an educated prediction that this election was to bring change and Kerry into the White House. Zogby, Harris polls and others called this election for Kerry as well.

Unfortunately, this America is much more conservative than we'd like or even expect. Even had we won this election, the undercurrents reveal that this country remains a conservative stronghold. Clinton (no big liberal) never got more than 50% of the popular vote. Yes, we could have won it this time too, but only if the "other side" was disinterested and unmotivated. When the stakes were high, we saw the result.

Howard Dean got it right. Much of the country is mainly concerned about the three "Gs"... god, guns, and gays! The Republicans are pushing the right buttons, and get millions of Evangelicals, god/hell-fearing fundamentalists to vote against their own economic interests. The most brilliant move by the Republicans was to put the anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballots, in all swing states! It was shocking to see that Bush had more support from the lowest economic strata than Kerry!

I guess that a lot of people are happy that Tom and Harry cannot walk down the aisle. I mean burning in hell should be avoided at all costs--besides all the good rewards come after you die, right?!!! So, vote away...

The Democratic party has been losing ground in the last 15 years, becoming a minority national party. If it were to bounce back, it would have to become more conservative. Otherwise, if it sticks to its more liberal, even secular proposals, and try to change the hearts and minds of the electorate, then it will have to accept the minority status for a long time to come. The other alternative is to find someone who speaks in plain terms (hense avoid complicated matters), has the image and basically appeals to the hearts not the minds of the voters.

More bad news are to come for us liberals who are concerned not only about the economic standing of the poor and the middle class, but are concerned about social values and a progressive path. Bush will most likely get to appoint several justices to the Supreme Court. He will leave office in 4 years, but they will remain on the bench, shaping the social agenda for generations.

It's easier to undo or form anew an economic policy, but it's much harder to bring about social and legal change. Many of the important steps that this country has taken were achieved first through the courts. For example, it was the Court that decided desegregation was illegal, and women had a reproductive choice.

Our only hope is , gasp, a Republican senator from Pennsylvania, Arlen Spector, who said today that he would oppose Bush's appointments of justices with are "too conservative"--whatever this means. Spector who barely beat his Democratic opponent, will be the chairman of the Judiciary Committee. We'll see. Our only other hope is the 44 Democratic senators who may put up a fight on civil rights issues and to block radicals from being appointed to the Supreme Court. On this we should work very hard to gain seats in the Senate 2 years from now.

Basically, we don't have many good choices available to us. Some liberals have threaten to live the country, or have proposed ..secession of the northeastern, west-coast states, or to leave politics forever, and other desperate acts. I don't think these are good choices.

We happen to be in the minority, but true liberals, especially the secular ones, have always been in the minority in these United States. Get used to it, because it will not change in our lifetime.

I admit that I'm not in the best of spirits these days, but after I got past the initial shock and caught up on some much needed sleep, I decided to keep on fighting. What else can I do? Paul Wellstone used to say that life belongs to those who are prepared and willing to fight for it!

I'm going to keep on fighting to bring about new ideas in the political discourse, to promote reforms for more democracy and personal freedoms, support science in schools and the scientific inquiry The more you keep your head out of the water the more of a fighting chance you've got. The alternative to me is to sink to the bottom and die, something I'm not prepared to do.

Lastly, there is some good news! We have each other. Even our minority has strength in numbers. Yeah, gaddamit! There are millions of Americans like us who have similar aspirations about a just and free society, millions more who are politically moderate.

The bigots, the anti-intellectuals, the selfish rich who vote their pocketbooks, those intolerant theocrats, the simpletons who care more about their guns than their children's healthcare, the arrogant morons with a microscopic worldview, well, they can have their; we can never be under the same tent with them.

Of course, there are common threads across this beautiful land of ours--a land that belongs to ALL of us--that unite us all. But, dissent is healthy even though it is labeled unpatriotic by the small-minded. Through a civilized debate and an exchange of ideas society moves forward. We will keep being a pain-in-the-ass. What we seek it's good for them too!

So gather your strength and join in. It's going to be a hell of a ride. Do not drink apathy's poison. I like the smell of armageddon in the morning!


Pete said...

You don't sound too bitter compared to some Democrats I've listened to over the last couple of days. The Democratic party does need to do some soul searching. I don't think heading left is the answer.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you are devastated. Honestly. I am happy, though, because I voted for Bush; and I am none of those things you evidently think I must be to have cast such a vote -- "The bigots, the anti-intellectuals, the selfish rich who vote their pocketbooks, those intolerant theocrats, the simpletons who care more about their guns than their children's healthcare, the arrogant morons with a microscopic worldview". None of it. You have not a damned clue who I am. I linked to your page from the little "next" button that eBlogger features at the top right of each blog... and I feel you need to take some advice from a fellow Democrat, from the site I came from. Please read the following:

Thursday, November 04, 2004
To My Fellow Democrats

We Democrats are supposedly the party of the therapists, the teachers, and the 'relationship experts.' If anybody would be proud of the title, 'active listener', it would be a Democrat. We're the soft ones who understand where the other side is coming from and negotiate.

Many Democrats think that our patience and understanding are our weakness. "We don't know how to fight like the Republicans," we all told ourselves after Florida 2000. "We have to be more like them: tougher, meaner." "We have to energize our base more."

Actually, no. Our error is that we Democrats are far less understanding than we think we are. Our version of understanding the other side is to look at them from a psychological point of view while being completely unwilling to take their arguments seriously. "Well, he can't help himself, he's a right-wing religious zealot, so of course he's going to think like that." "Republicans who never served in war are hypocrites to send young men to die. " "Republicans are homophobes, probably because they can't deal with their secret desires." Anything but actually listening and responding to the arguments being made.

And when I say 'responding,' I don't just mean 'coming up with the best counterargument and pushing it.' Sometimes responding to an argument means finding the merit in it and possibly changing one's position. That is part of growth, right?

Here are some arguments that are being made that the Democratic party has simply not responded to, in the larger sense of the word "response":

* Whatever the UN was, might have been, or should be, it now isn't. Genocidal tyrannies are on the Human Rights commision. Saddam Hussein funneled over 1.7 billion dollars to various decision makers and world leaders to weaken his sanctions program. One out of every three votes is about Israel. Until the UN is significantly reformed, you shouldn't take its decisions seriously.
* If we view 1000 or even 10,000 dead soldiers as unacceptable, we will never be able to fight a real war again.
* Proportional response with no preemption allows the other side to set the pace of the battle.
* Throughout history, governments have had a strong interest in promoting long-term child-rearing heterosexual relationships. That is why governments create a legal definition of Marriage and provide lots of benefits to heterosexual couples who enter into it. This has been true for States throughout history independent of the religious beliefs of the populace. Worrying about changing that definition, even to the point of deciding against a change, is not automatically sexism or bigotry.
* If you never are willing to draw a line where human life starts, there will be no line.
* Just because it says something in the Bible doesn't mean there are no ancillary arguments supporting it. And just because someone uses the Bible as a source of their morality doesn't mean that any particular view of theirs is wrong. Actually, stuff that's lasted for thousands of years is more likely to be useful than stuff that was dreamed up in a French philosophy book.

I am not saying that all these arguments should win. But I do not hear enough Democrats elucidating reasoned counterarguments to these positions. "Bush insulted our allies and the UN," "Bush lied, people died," "We have become the aggressor," "Homophobia," "Religious nut." These are not responses, these are dismissals. When Democrats start actively responding, we will succeed. Until then, we will be increasingly ignored as irrelevent.

Anonymous said...

We are all going through a re-evaluation period. Some are happy that Bush won, some, like me, are not. The previous post makes some good points, and the source it cites, but I think it's not on target.

You write from a liberal perspective and you acknowledge that you are in the minority as your liberal views are not shared by most Americans. Also, you pose the question about what the Democratic party would do next if it wants to be in the majority. I'm not sure that you want to see it in the majority if it is going to be more conservative. Do you?

You use some strong language describing some of the voters for Bush. I don't think you meant all of those who voted for Bush are "small-minded" and "clue-less"... There are stupid people on all sides.


Andros said...

The progressive community suffered a blow, and it's OK to stand up and fight!
Why is not OK to fight for more personal freedoms, for a more equitable distribution of the nation's wealth, for separation of church and state, for our country to be a respected leader in the world community?.... These values are good not just for the liberals, but for all people.

Why should we make truce with those who want to make us pray to their god, follow their religious practices in our private lives, don't want us to love and sleep with whomever we like, and, for goodness sake, are opposed to science??!!!!!!!

Oh, and all those people (some argue they were 30% of the electorate) indeed voted for Bush! Did they not? Today the Evangelicals declared that Bush rode on THEIR coat tails!!!!!

No, not all Republicans or those who voted for Bush are "bad people". I do think that most are well-meaning Americans, and even if we disagree they accept that disagreement is allowed and it's healthy for our political system.

We are going to fight, and we are going to fight hard for our rights, for the rights of all Americans, because even those " bigots, the anti-intellectuals, the selfish rich who vote their pocketbooks, those intolerant theocrats, the simpletons who care more about their guns than their children's healthcare, the arrogant morons with a microscopic worldview" would not like it if they were a minority in a moslem theocratic state! Or, would they?

America is a conservative nation. When Lyndon Johnson signed Civil Rights laws used to say that the Democrats would lose the South for a generation.... well, it turned out to be much longer than that. Yes, simply put, giving rights to Blacks was resented in the South, was it not?

Can anyone dispute that there is racism in the 21st century America? Can anyone dispute that millions of our fellow citizens are bigots, narrow-minded, and intolerant? Can anyone dispute the fact that overtly-racist politicians (like David Duke) garner huge amounts of votes??!!! Can anyone dispute that if you don't go to church and are not a devout christian you are not considered a "true American" by those "pious and moral" citizens of ours?

Please, if you don't attack those who want to limit personal freedoms, those who want to impose a theocratic state, those who want a close society and are against science.... then it's like surrendering our country without a fight.

Why not call on those hypocrites who wear religion on their sleeves but use it only for selfish reasons? Why not call on those who wear the American flag on their lapels, while they spill American blood to enrich themselves?... Why not call on those "uber-patriots" who talk about sacrifice when themselves sacrifice nothing?....

I want my kids to grow up in a country where people are judged by their actions not by the color of their skins. That love is love. That there is a world outside our borders. That they are taught history and true science. That even though they may not come from a wealthy family, they'll be given the opportunity through access to free education and healthcare to advance their lot.

I don't care if you call this left, up or down, east or west.... I want my kids and the next generations to advance freedoms, scientific inquiry, lead a happy life through personal responsibility and choices!

And, why not, let's do it the Jesus way! Teach tolerance, love our neighbors different as they may be, and help the less fortunate of our society!