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October 20, 2004

What's next, what's needed, and who's game?

Here's a long and serious post, friends. Please read it, think about it, and get back to me.

I may cry bitter tears into cheap whiskey on Nov. 2 remembering these words, but I now believe that (barring catastrophe) Kerry is going to win the election. So now I'm mostly worried that it will be close enough that the inevitable voting screwups will tarnish the win--in which case it will be pain to watch the Bushies argue the exact opposite of what they screamed from the rafters in 2004. But my money is actually on a 20 EV margin by Kerry. (Some people are way more optimistic.) I've read more than I really care to America is going to let the incumbent off the hook, and a lot of these supposed "battleground" states (like Oregon) will fall blue with 5-7% margins.

Great, you say. We can go back to normal. Whoopie!

No. Hell no. To relax our pre-election posture for more than a moment would be as dumb as my least-favorite horror movie cliché. Because The Monster Is Never Dead. Especially if that monster is the American Right. There are enough think tanks and policy foundations and pressure groups to keep monsters like Neoconservatism, Neo-Imperialism, and a whole host of Christofascist ideas alive almost indefinitely. (Who thought supply-side economics had survived the 1990s? But here it is, alive, well and eating us in to a trillion dollar debt!)

So we have to keep doing what we've been doing, and then some. We have to win back the House in 2006, and the Senate--assuming we don't get there sooner. We have to attack the state and local groups that are pushing anti-choice and anti-gay legislation--even in Washington. And we have to keep raising money to support a truly diverse and representative grassroots on every major policy front. We have to reach out around the world and try to undo the damage done to our reputation. Oh, and by the way, we probably have to re-invent or flat out innovate around the Democratic Party. Clearly, left to its own devices neither it nor the Kerry campaign could afford to be this hopeful. Finally, we have to figure out how to wake up the media so that they will, and I quote, "stop hurting America." (Alternately, we could just use the Super-Size ray to make Jon Stewart 50 feet tall and let him eat all the hacks).

I don't pretend to know what this effort will look like, but I think the 527s offer a pretty good model. I have a laptop and even a little bit of time on my hands. (I have a couple of URLs I quite like, too.) Anyone interested in getting formal about this? What I want to hear is what you think, friends. What can we all commit to doing to ensure that this become the "It's Not Over" election? Because I want this to be a real turning point in American history, not just a bump in the road of continuing national decline. There are a lot of great new organizations doing important work, and we have to continue supporting them. Maybe that's the best course--just opening our wallets. But I'm not convinced that the people who make up this community don't have something unique and worthwhile to offer as well.

No mincing words here. I want the head cut off the snake. I want the ring thrown into the volcano. I want the ideology that has gotten us to this terrible place to become as discredited as Stalinism, National Socialism, and belief in spontaneous generation. I want to sow salt in the fields of the Right and to fight them on any soil where their pernicious ideas take root. No more of this "we are history's actors" bullshit. Nobody gets to create their own reality--there's just one, and we all have to share it.

In short, I want my country back. For good. So that David and I can live here in peace with you nice people. Because it's not just about this election, any more than the WWII was just about the Battle for Britain.

So talk to me... what are we going to do? Because we can't afford to assume that everyone else has it covered. Because nothing ends on November 2, and if you stop for even a moment to gleefully kick the corpse it will grab you by the ankles and start in again.

Posted by jay at October 20, 2004 12:28 PM | TrackBack
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Comments

What's Next? I don't think it is so much about what's next as what is. Our states and country are really in one continuous election cycle. The big one every four years gets the most press but almost every year there is an election happening on some level of government office or issue. Recognizing that and structuring an organization and communications plan around that is crucial.
What's Needed? Mainstream, dispassionate discourse on the realities of politicians, policies and their individual impact is definitely needed. Unfortunately, that doesn't get you time with the press and therefore you won't be noticed by the public. So, the creation of some kind of event/stunt driven dialogue (starting at the local level) is needed to garner notice and support. I am intrigued by the Dean campaign's spin off as a starting point but feel that everyday people like being everyday people. Politicians are born, not made.
So, the creation of an interest group (a la 527?) is probably the best way influence those that would assume the throne rather than try to recruit a new king. There are, as you said, a lot of groups out there doing good work. Perhaps, it is time to push for some sort of aggregation and create an umbrella group with enough numbers to either influence one of the big two parties or lend credibility to a third - Independents? Libertarians? Green? There is strength in numbers and the convenience of existing parties looking for relevance is almost too good an opportunity to pass up.
Who's Game? Well, I am. I have been a social-liberal and fiscal-conservative most of my political life. I have never been registered with any party. I am one of the "Decline to State" box checkers. The reason for this is because I have never felt that either of the two major parties spoke for me and the rest of them are lacking legitimacy. It is time for thinking Americans to take back this country from the frightened and the ignorant. It is time for America to return to the democratic experiment that was lauded by de Toqueville and others at our start. It is time to take a stand for my personal responsibility in how my country is governed and say, "You can count me in!"

Posted by: terry on October 20, 2004 03:36 PM

Well said Jay & Terry. If this election has done nothing else (it has), I have awoken from 20 years of political inactivity that has largely been driven by a fear of the dark side of the US of A. I'd love to hear from anyone who took an INS-required medical examination in the 1980s - I'm ready for San Quentin now!

The other aspect of the electoral soap opera that has been an extraordinary wake-up call is the complete lack of choice presented to the populace. The fanatacism of the Bush white house has succeeded in dragging the Democratic Party way beyond the center into traditional Republican territory (Kerry's comments of killing terrorists, balanced budgets. etc.) What's next? The dreaded "trickle me Kerry" doll where the hole in his Saville Row suit pocket spreads munificence wherever he wanders? His best feature is still that he's not Bush!

So, I conclude that the only alternative for the rest of us is an alternative political party. I mix with a large number of Republicans on a daily basis (don't hold it against me - everyone has to make a living) and their discontent with their own candidate is real and measurable. Anyone I know to the left of Mussolini (my entire social circle) is outraged by the duplicity and mendacity of both "major" political parties. We need to resurrect the dregs of Dean, replace Nader with anyone with a personality/political skills and build a very broad alliance that is based on a few, simple and very American beliefs:

Respect for the Individual
Love for your fellow humans
Active compassion
Encouragement of endeavor and initiative
Separation of church and state yet freedom of religion
Fiscal maturity (not conservatism, just reality-based)
Representative democracy with effective and practical recall measures

There's probably a host of others and perhaps that's where we start: a new manifesto that captures a vision. I long for an inspired vision of America that I can subordinate my personal issues to - like Kennedy and the space race - something that externalizes, unites and elevates all of the people - and not just for jingoistic reasons.

So, manifesto first, a local grass roots campaign for the next set of local elections, some victories and on to Washington.


Posted by: bob on October 20, 2004 11:19 PM
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