I found this great little book in a used book store once. It had a cartoon of Uncle Sam on the cover, and it was called something like “The Cheer Up! Book for a Sad American” or something like that. It was written in the 70′s and was full of dorky things that were supposed to make you feel glad to be an American. “Did you know that Americans eat 35,000 tons of pasta every year? That’s more pasta than Italy even produces!” or “Did you know that 37 distinct dialects of Urdu are spoken IN BROOKLYN ALONE?!” “The world’s largest oyster was found in Lake Michigan in 1925! The Russkies don’t even have a word for ‘oyster’ !!!!!!” And so on.
Well, that’s what I feel like I need to write for all of you moping Kerry supporters. I’m an angry, energized, adrenaline-charged Kerry supporter right now, and I’m telling you: take off that sackcloth, wash off those ashes, and let’s get ready to rumble!
Here are the reasons you should take heart.
The fight isn’t over, it’s just elsewhere
- We need to believe what we believe for good reasons, to know those reasons, to articulate those reasons, and bring others to the side of reason and light. We need to stop preaching to the choir. The fight is in actual dialogue. And it’s in framing the debate.
- The fight is in local elections.
- The fight is in building up a new infrastructure and organization.
- The fight is in state elections and congressional elections. (Confession: I hate presidential politics, and long for the strong congress envisioned by the framers of the constitution).
- I don’t know how we’re going to manage it, but somehow we’ve got to fight the eventual supreme court appointments.
What is a president?
- Were you more yourself when Clinton was in office? Bush I? Reagan? Carter? I used to have a hard time understanding why conservatives got in such a lather about Clinton; they acted like he came to their house every night and personally threw darts at their dog. And though I loathe Bush and everything he stands for, if I wait until someone I like is president, I have a feeling my life is going to be put on hold for, well, pretty much ever.
- The president doesn’t have dinner with you.
- The president doesn’t play twister with you.
- The president doesn’t pick your wallpaper
- You don’t have to think about the president when you’re in the supermarket.
- You don’t have to go to Saddam-style “we love the president” days.
The Republicans are very divided in victory
- The economic-focused capitalist wing loathes the religious nuts, and vice versa. (e.g. do you think the CEO of a big biotech company is in favor of the stem cell research ban?)
- Bush has rubbed the congressional republicans the wrong way numerous times. While it’s pretty scarey to have the whole show run by the GOP, their agenda is by no means set, and you can expect internal power struggles to make it very hard for any one ideological current to have full sway.
- Moderate Republicans like Ahnold don’t fit into the party: this can be exploited.
- Even the neocons have subdivisions.
Face it, you didn’t like Kerry that much anyway.
- He voted for the war ( he said that he voted to authorize the use of force only provisionally– horsecrap. Everybody half-asleep knew it was a Gulf of Tonkin vote.). He did it because he didn’t want to look like a wimp, and he qualified it because being against the war worked for Dean, and he did that because he sways with the political wind. It’s politics, and you expect it, but admit it, it rankled you, and you had to twist yourself around to buy the “nuanced” rationalization. I know, I know, I agree that never changing your mind even when reality blatantly contradicts you is worse than being a flip-flopper, but you know that deep down you just wanted Kerry to take a real stand for what you believe in.
- He believes in the Patriot Act.
- He shoots helpless animals.
- He is constitutionally unable to get to the point.
- Now we know that “anybody but Bush” doesn’t work. We need someone like Obama who transcends ideology, race, religion, redness/blueness, etc., and is going to actually take people away from the other side without conceding liberal, American, secular humanist values. We need someone we can love and someone they can like, not someone we think they won’t hate less.
- And by the way, don’t forget that Clinton regularly disapointed you, too.
Finally, we have bigger fish to fry, and who’s president is immaterial
- Clinton, Gore, Bush, Kerry: they all look the same to Osama. Bush’s policies make it worse, but I’m pretty firmly in the camp that believes that these guys are tapping into something far beyond any real grievance with actual U.S. foreign policy.
- Alternative energy sources are the eventual way out of the middle east. We will get there through innovation and self-reliance. And I think that actual breakthroughs are around the corner–ironically– from defense spending (see here and here for starters). I don’t trust Bush’s oil cronies to not try to do something evil to thwart this (for a sad story, read this), but I’d have been amazed if Kerry would or could have done anything to make this happen faster.
Bonus: Some thoughts for the future
- Somebody has to address this “elitist” thing, this inferiority complex that makes people vote for someone incompetent just because they can “relate” to him/her. [Confession: I have a big problem with this one, because I actually am an elitist. I despise people who wear stupidity and ignorance like a badge of honor, or believe that the poor are blessed. It’s the subject of a different post, but my liberalism is not about toppling elites, it’s about making more people into elites.]
- Somebody has to address this “moral values” thing. It makes me crazy, because it’s clear to me that Bush [and moreso Cheney and Rummy] have no morals whatsoever. But I think it needs to be addressed. And it can’t be done in the “me too” follower way of the DLC (think of how the loathesome Joe Lieberman tries to be more religous than the religious right, more hawkish than the hawks).
- Religious people need to be persuaded that secular government is a core American value. This is what makes us different from the terrorists. This is what makes us different from Iran, or our supposed friends in Riyadh and Karachi. “Faith-based” government initiatives of any kind are wrong. Again, I’m not the guy to do this, because I think that belief in imaginary beings should immediately disqualify you from any sort of public service, but I’ll settle for someone who actually believes in the separation of church & state. Obama, again, is a good example that it can be done: “We believe in an awesome God in the blue states”, yet “I don’t need Mr. Keyes lecturing me about Christianity… I’m not running to be minister of Illinois. I’m running to be its U.S. senator.”