AND HOW TO GET OVER IT
By Michael D. Caine
George Bush has squeaked out the most narrow of victories by using the same tactics that the Nazi’s and Communists built their power with: the big lie and pounding propaganda. The Neo Conservatives will try to solidify their control with ruthless extension of the same tactics. There is no logic in his position but Bush is claiming a mandate. Why are the media not scoffing at that attempt? It’s not an unusual position for a re-elected President but in light the narrowness of the two victories that have brought him to power and sustained him there, it is mere hubris to make the claim of mandate, but hubris is Bush’s most important trait. The truth is he and the neo-conservatives are trying to do what Hitler did, magnify their power using the media lens to make his victory appear like a landslide. Now he will hide the truth by simply ignoring and omitting it and fill in the empty spaces in the history of this election with spin.
We have watched G.W. and his puppet masters do the unthinkable but we can’t take only negative lessons from this defeat. We have learned the strength of our opposition. The Republican Party had more volunteers, they were devoted to G.W., and what they perceive him as representing. His supporters believe in him like they believe in God. I had a boss that invited everyone into his office each morning to pray. In the middle of one of those prayers he looked up at a picture of Bush and with tears in his eyes said, “I love that man.” He is not alone.
We just saw our candidate get defeated by a team that is that devoted to their President. Give it to G.W., he never wavered from the ideas that got him elected the first time, and what he said and did immediately after 9/11 blocked the sunlight from exposing the dark side of his policies. When he and his followers are attacked, they respond with force. Forget the Gospels, they believe in the Old Testament stuff. “Eye for Eye” is the operative text. His followers fundamentally understand Bush and his actions feed into their beliefs. The linkage to the economy of any of his policies is beyond them. They are the faithful.
We lost because we didn’t have faith in our candidate; we were joined primarily in our opposition to the other candidate. We for the most part disagreed with our candidate’s stand on the war and the single most important issue in the campaign, as it turns out, was the war on terror and the two were allowed to be inextricably linked when in fact they are not. Kerry couldn’t explain what he would have done differently than Bush because in the beginning he voted for the President’s ability to wage the war. Ours was a candidate that came to fame fighting against a war he fought bravely in and to many that makes him a walking contradiction. His policies on this war could barely be distinguished from those of his opponent, and they differed only long after the fact. Kerry did, in fact, support the President’s ability to wage the war and pledged to support it’s continuation if he were elected because… well who knows?
We lost because we got out politicked. We couldn’t muster a single issue that rose to the importance of National Security and we offered up a candidate that had, in the final analysis, no credibility concerning that issue. We offered a candidate that stole his version of that issue from Howard Dean and then lost the election because he couldn’t run with it. We offered up a candidate that single mothers couldn’t vote for because they were afraid of new 9/11’s even though there has been only one of those and it’s been three years since it happened. We should have known this election was over when a week from the election the polls started showing those single mothers breaking for G.W.
We lost because we couldn’t see the forest for the trees even though the thing that hung us together was the forest. Blame Kerry if you want, and he should take a lion’s share of the blame for a strategy that emphasized his weaknesses, but we didn’t do what it took to get a real candidate onto the ticket. Why was that? That’s not Kerry’s fault. We have to start finding candidates that articulate our issues and have the backbone to stand up for them. The conservative issues are not winning the elections. Kerry led the polls on every issue except leadership in national security, but lost the election. We are losing these elections mainly because our spokesmen are inarticulate on the issues that are most important to us. That is what must change.
The Internet is turning out to be the best tool to get people together on the issues. We should stop worrying about what party someone with good ideas is a member of and ask only for the ability to articulate those ideas, and start supporting those candidates. Let’s just find the right people and support them because they are the right people. We need to get on the Internet and spread the word about these candidates. I’m not against the two party system so much as I am against excluding ideas before they are tested by argument. How can I find a serious liberal candidate for a real office? Where are the people that have better ideas? How do we find them? Where is the place to look for them? The Democratic Party may still be the best place to find viable candidates for liberals, but it is looking more and more like a conservative think tank. We need to change it or treat it as such, letting it split the conservative vote with the Republicans. If the two party system excludes debate on important issues and only elects conservative candidates, it must be destroyed. If Democrats can’t find electable candidates it is because they are too entrenched in a party that is out of touch with the electorate and incapable of finding it’s own base.
Progressives need to find the candidates that can stand at a podium and express ideas so right and powerful that they give the electorate Goosebumps. Our schools cannot turn out the scholars and skilled work force that a successful twenty first century economy will demand and will leave our children in the third world if it’s not rejuvenated. Our health care system is the best in the world for the rich and third world for the 35% who don’t have health insurance. It’s obvious that in the next 20 to 50 years our economy will be surpassed by the Chinese and Indians and the geo-political effects will be that we will no longer be able wield the economic club with impunity to effect policy, and our military will no longer be unchallenged. Manifest destiny is apt to be our downfall if we can’t find the leaders to adjust our current policies. We need to be seeking our allies in the next fight whether it’s economic, scientific, or military. We need to be finding common ground with others not excluding them, persuading not bullying and we should be learning from others not dictating to them. History doesn’t justify our greatness, as the conservatives want us to believe, it simply points the way to the future. Greatness is in the eye of the beholder not in our own. We need to find the leaders that can take us into the future with joy and grace; otherwise, the rightwing, neo-conservative warlords will drag us all there, screaming and yelling.