After the devastation of November 2nd… what? I think both solace and challenge are necessary. Lately I have found the most solace in the reflection that destruction is in the nature of things, and always gives rise to the unexpected and to renewal in some form. Let’s say Rove is successful in his nefarious scheme to deprive the Democrats of a base, by crushing all the prosperous groups that make up that base – trial lawyers, for example. Let’s say we as Democrats are crushed all the way down to the level of the common people – by that I mean that no major industry could advance its interests by backing our candidates, or giving us money. Such a disaster would give the party tremendous clarity about where its political interests and heart really lie. From that disaster a new pro-labor, pro-social welfare, stripped down, lean and mean fighting machine party would arise.
Now to the challenge.
The day after the defeat I read on Andrew Sullivan: “…the most fundamental fact of this campaign – and one of the reasons that it has been so bitter – is that we are at war. Our opponents at home are not our enemies.”
Ah… not our enemies? By one definition, my enemy is one who tries to deprive me of life, liberty, or my pursuit of happiness. To enlarge the circle, my enemy is one who tries to wreck my future and the future of my family and community.
I posted a couple of weeks ago about the Natl. Science Foundation study that found that 18,000 Americans die every year because they lack health insurance. Most of us are one or two layoffs away from such a loss. By whose ‘moral values’ is the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans over a decade unimportant? In addition we are facing the bankrupting of the Federal Government at the hands of the Rethuglicans, whose congress is nothing more than a looting machine for the special interests. (So much for conservatism, southern style!) What impact on the blue states will such policies have? How many citizens who are not represented in this government will die? How many will have their futures devastated?
I was talking to a friend about the possible bankrupting of social security and she said, “Don’t think it can’t happen. I was in Argentina when the streets filled with eighty year olds banging on pots because they didn’t have anything to eat.” In the Rethuglican Congress, social security is on the block because the same crew that brought us free market health care and the California debacle of energy deregulation wants to play with the retirement funds of millions of working Americans. This is an attack on we-the-people. It must be fought.
There has been much talk about how Democrats should work up an appeal to red states that caters to red state concern for moral values. I think there is much to be said for clarifying, strengthening, and developing a rhetoric for our values. We need to bring poetry and passion into our politics. But we should not be pandering to those who have chosen to sell out their future and the future of their children by kissing the ass of the ruling class. If this is ‘values’ let them have it.
Our situation demands honesty as a first principle, not pandering. The red states are by and large centers of poverty, not entrepreneurial culture, higher education, science and the arts. Our blue state tax dollars support their failures. Now they are going to try to drive the country down to the economic and cultural level of Alabama and East Texas, and they can do this because rural areas are over-represented at the Federal level.
I think the Rethuglican voters – neighbors, friends, relatives – need to know how we feel. We need to begin Democratic soul-searching with a fearless embrace of our interests. We must put our families and communities first. Liberal politics has been saturated with guilt and a lack of confidence that comes from striving to be good yet having doubt about what that means. This era, I suspect, will fade, because it is not our ‘goodness’ that is at stake, but indeed our survival.