OK. I read thousands of comments and dozens of Diaries last night and this morning. And you know something? I’m going to forget I read most of them. Just erase them from memory along with the names of those who posted them. Chalk them up to adrenaline crashes, too much rage and reefer and booze.
Because what I found in my reading was a plethora of bashing Christians, bashing Kerry, bashing gays, bashing Edwards, bashing Kos, bashing America and bashing each other. As well as a lot of people saying they’re abandoning the Democrats, abandoning politics, abandoning the country. This descent into despair and irrationality and surrender puts icing on the Republican victory cake.
Why were we in this fight in the first place? Because terrible leaders are doing terrible things to our country and calling this wonderful. Because radical reactionaries are trying to impose their imperialist schemes on whoever they wish and calling this just. Because amoral oligarchs are determined to enhance their slice of the economic pie and calling this the natural order. Because flag-wrapped ideologues want to chop up civil liberties and call this security. Because myopians are in charge of America’s future.
We lost on 11/2. Came in second place in a crucial battle whose damage may still be felt decades from now. The despicable record of our foes makes our defeat good reason for disappointment and fear. Even without a mandate over the past four years, they have behaved ruthlessly at home and abroad, failing to listen to objections even from members of their own party. With the mandate of a 3.6-million vote margin, one can only imagine how far their arrogance will take them in their efforts to dismantle 70 years of social legislation and 50+ years of diplomacy.
Still, Tuesday was only one round in the struggle. It’s only the end if we let it be. I am not speaking solely of challenging the votes in Ohio or elsewhere – indeed, I think even successful challenges are unlikely to change the ultimate outcome, which is not to say I don’t think the Democrats should make the attempt. And I’m not just talking about evaluating in depth what went wrong, then building on what was started in the Dean campaign to reinvigorate the grassroots of the Democratic Party, although I also think we must do that. I’m talking about the broader political realm, the realm outside of electoral politics that has always pushed America to live up to its best ideals and overcome its most grotesque contradictions.
Not a few people have spoken in the past few hours about an Americanist authoritarianism emerging out of the country’s current leadership. I think that’s not far-fetched. Fighting this requires that we stick together, not bashing each other, not fleeing or hiding or yielding to the temptation of behaving as if “what’s the use?”
It’s tough on the psyche to be beaten.Throughout our country’s history, abolitionists, suffragists, union organizers, anti-racists, antiwarriors, civil libertarians, feminists and gay rights activists have challenged the majority of Americans to take off their blinders. Each succeeded one way or another, but not overnight, and certainly not without serious setbacks.
After a decent interval of licking our wounds and pondering what might have been and where we went wrong, we need to spit out our despair and return – united - to battling those who have for the moment outmaneuvered us. Otherwise, we might just as well lie down in the street and let them flatten us with their schemes.