Wednesday, November 03, 2004

No unity

In the end George Bush followed his strategy all the way to the finish, which was to make John Kerry's trustworthiness the issue. It worked. Kerry and the Democrats made a decision early on not to raise issues which would have made mincemeat of Bush's own trustworthiness, and now we have four more years of George Bush. Valerie Plame, the compromise of the Noor Khan investigation which could have led to the capture of bin Laden, Dick Cheney's trading with Saddam Hussein as CEO of Halliburton, are all well-documented and on the public record. But it doesn't matter if you don't have an opposition party that acts like an opposition party. John Kerry spoke of holding this administration accountable, but in the end, he didn't hold it accountable.

Let's remember that Newt Gingich and the Republicans, when they were the minority party, always played hard and played for keeps. They hit on Clinton for things that pale in comparison to what GB has done, and they hammered and they hammered until they crippled his presidency and nearly took him down. Now "bipartisanship" is a code word for give the extremist Republicans what they want, as when Ted Kennedy gave George Bush one of his favorite ads, the No Child Left Behind Act.

The fact is this election shouldn't even have been close, because Bush has done things that he could have been impeached for many times over. If there is any silver lining, it would be the demise of the centrist-triangulator wing of the Democratic party who don't believe in anything but polls and not getting anyone too upset. They're not really the center; that's a fiction which really describes the right and the far-right. The center is us, and all those Republicans who voted against Bush, the fiscal conservatives who are furious at what he did to the national debt, conservative generals like Wes Clark who called this administration, quote, the "nastiest, most imperialistic administration in living memory," The center is many socially conservative Christians who don't think Bush acts very Christian. The center is now championless. We're completely on our own.

The so-called centrists think it makes you some sort of left-winger to hit back when Republicans hit below the belt, as Bush-Cheney have consistently done by trashing Kerry's war record, and by saying that critics are the equivalent of traitors, as when John Ashcroft said of critics of the Patriot Act, quote, "to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, your words only give comfort to the enemy." The Republicans make you pay dearly for the tiniest slip of the tongue, but beyond short flurries of Democratic indignation, Republicans never have to pay for many remarks just like this. The so-called centrists confuse fighting back with going negative, and people who don't understand the difference, should not be in politics.

John Kerry showed that hard work is not enough. It has to be harnessed to a clear, consistent message. The Iraq war is not just the wrong war at the wrong time, it's just plain wrong. We don't need to fight a better, smarter war on terror, we just need to fight it, period, and get out of Iraq. We don't need a president who won't rush to war without a plan to win the peace; we just need a president who won't go to war unless he has to.

The biggest surpise for me is that I thought if Bush won this election, I'd have a negative view of America. But what I've seen just takes my breath away. We've seen 9/11 widows like Chris Britweiser step forward and speak out against George Bush, we've seen public officials like Richard Clarke, Mark Scheuer, and Paul O'Neill put their careers on the line and invite certain, vicious personal smear to warn the American public, we've seen soldiers risk jail time for refusing to "kill poor people in Iraq." We've seen film-makers like Michael Moore make films which now earn them daily death threats. We've seen many such acts of unexpected and breath-taking patriotism. I routinely hear college students on the subway speaking knowledgably about swing state arithmetic. This was unheard of years ago. But working at the polls, I also saw too many people who didn't know they had to register before they vote, even though they wanted badly to vote. So this is not the end. This is just the beginning of people really understanding their democracy.

The Democrats must retool their platform into a clear, consistent agenda, which includes a limited and carefully chosen list of items such as killing the $100 billion Star Wars pork barrel.

Star wars is a debate we can win, because even its inventors say its a waste of money. Even John McCain hates it. The money saved should go into buying whatever protection the troops are missing in Iraq, like armored Humvees, and you'd have plenty left over for other needs, like making college affordable again, no matter what college you get into. If you can make it into a prestigious but expensive private college, you should be able to go. This is another resonant issue the Democrats can own.

But highest on the agenda now should be holding Democrats accountable for not holding the Bush administration accountable for its crimes and misdeeds. And finally, bridging the cultural divide. The tools to start bridging the cultural divide have been created in this last election, with websites like Main Street Moms Oppose Bush and the Swing State Project. They put us in touch with our fellow citizens in other states, to discuss, share information, and often respectfully disagree. Reaching one person in one rural county, and discussing the issues together, I believe, is one of the single most powerful things one person can do in the next four years. George Bush won the election despite sky-high disapproval ratings, so there is still plenty to talk about.

As for holding our Democratic congressmen accountable for rolling over and playing dead in the face of administration misdeeds and possible crimes, let a thousand primary challenges bloom. If we can't win against their kind of money, we can at least give them a scare. There's nothing a politician hates like a challenge, because it means he might have to go out and debate someone.

We will not lose hope. Let's not feel sorry for ourselves because we made phone calls to voters and knocked on doors and we still didn't win. Remember, the first American Revolution didn't end with the Battle of Lexington. After that there was a ten year slog during which men had to camp out in winter with their feet wrapped in rags, at Fort Ticonderoga, and Valley Forge. Think of that. Between what they had to do and what we have to do, we have the easier job. So let's get re-organized, and get back to work.


Another issue ignored by Kerry and the Democrats, a full 4 years after Florida 2000, is that a paper trail for electronic voting is a no-brainer. Electronic records are good for many things, but voting is not one of them, and believing so does not make you a Luddite. If they are so reliable, then why, despite the most sophisticated and accurate systems in the world, do credit card companies make you sign a paper slip for each and every transaction, even if it's only for a dollar? Oh, that's different, that involves MONEY!

On that note:An Election Spoiled Rotten


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fucking Bush brainwashed the uneducated, lack-of-resources, religious fanaticism of middle america and the deep south. I'm sickened, angry, disheartened, and disappointed with Americans. They don't pay attention to anything, even when it's spelled out for them in black and white, over and over again!!! What the fuck? This country is lame. And now what? Osama is going to hit again, cos nothing is going to change in the Middle East; kids still won't have quality education cos money goes into testing and not resources; and then we still won't have enough cops and probation officers cos all the money we don't have was wasted on lack of strategy and budgeting for Iraq.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading you articles and feeling your frustration for months. I agree that we should not give up and I want to thank you for keeping me sane in the month leading up to the election. I might just be paranoid but I don't even believe bush won this election without help from the e-voting machines and the republicans in charge of key states like Florida and Ohio.
Thank you again and I wish you much success, you are a bright man and I have dearly enjoyed reading your thoughts and ideas to make America a better place.

5:02 PM  
Blogger rokkgod said...

I was surfing around and found another George Bush site.George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People This place has a ton of funny videos and mp3s.

12:46 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home