By Jack Random
As the grim reality of the 2004 election settles in, we are torn between seeking blame and finding new direction, all in a desperate quest for that most illusive human treasure: hope.
The search for blame is a ritual of healing. In many ways, it is a useful endeavor for it may enable us to reconcile our understanding of reality with a completely incompatible result. In other ways, it is a harmful practice for it tends to divide us at a time when we need unity more than ever. The Democrats, having lost their favorite scapegoat in Ralph Nader, have begun pointing the finger of liability at gay rights and pro-choice activists. Having already turned their backs on the antiwar movement, they will resume the rightward migration that Bill Clinton championed.
The new reality is this: We can have no reasonable expectation that our dissent, however vocal and massive, will have any real impact on our elected leaders. For the next four years, the administration can claim, with documented validity, that a silent majority supports their cause regardless of the lies and deceptions, regardless of world opinion, regardless the mounting debt, and regardless the rising tide of blood for oil.
The stark, horrifying reality is this: Our collective voice of opposition to war, occupation and empire on the streets of America’s cities may actually produce the opposite effect in America’s heartland. It is no longer the Bush war; it is America’s war and the threat of terrorist attacks on this nation’s soil has grown exponentially.
Why then should we continue the struggle?
The answer must come from within.
In the days following the reelection of GW Bush, I have heard powerful and insightful voices from within the antiwar movement appeal to the esoteric. They speak of the Mayan calendar, the Hopi elders and the native prophecies that we are on the eve of an evolution in human consciousness. Inevitably, these prophecies hold that it must get worse before the dawn of a new enlightenment.
While I value these voices greatly, they do not speak to me. They appeal to our faith in summoning forces beyond our control. While I respect the sentiment and honor the faith, I cannot substantially differentiate the appeal from that of the fundamentalist right that effectively elected a war president.
I require more earthly objectives. From my perspective, we must march on if only to inform the world that we are still a deeply divided nation. We must speak out to proclaim that we are not complicit in the crimes of our government.
In accepting our electoral defeat, we must also accept that we can no longer pander to the right. We cannot convert the faith-based supporters of GW Bush. We can only strengthen our own base and appeal to the one demographic that voted strongly against the war and its faith-based master: the youth vote. If we can keep these voters as they mature and win the emerging youth, there is constructive hope for real change.
The most predictable outcome of this election is that the Democratic Party will move to the right. In the aftermath of defeat, it was revealed that former president Bill Clinton (fast becoming the Democratic version of Karl Rove) advised John Kerry to come out against gay marriage. To his credit, Kerry refused. He had already moved to the middle ground on virtually every issue. As a candidate, he was in fact inflicted with the disease of his supporters: We saw a darkness so profound that we were willing to do almost anything, to say almost anything, to advocate positions against our interest and convictions, in order to defeat this president. When he spoke of winning the war, we whispered to our friends on the left: Don’t worry; he doesn’t mean it. The stain of core compromise does not belong to John Kerry alone; it belongs to most of us.
Mark it: The Democrats are serving notice to every oppressed community, every dissident, every progressive, every antiwar activist and everyone else not substantially represented in red America, that they are poised and ready to throw us overboard if we prove a political liability. Get out your life jackets, folks, the boat is listing and the Democrats are planning our funerals.
The only recourse we will have in 2008 will be the one we rejected in 2004: the Independence Movement. Having been removed from the table of mainstream politics, our only forum will be the underground and the streets of America.
If we need a reminder of why we are fighting, ten thousand troops have surrounded the city of Fallujah in preparation for a full-scale assault. The election over, political restraint has been removed and the fear of horrific images on American television has subsided. We are called upon to bear witness and plead for the lives of countless Iraqis whose only crime is to resist foreign occupation. We are called upon to plead for our soldiers as well, as they carry out the orders that will alter their vision of the world forever.
When we consider the plight of Fallujah, our electoral pain becomes sufferable. We have no choice. We must continue the relentless march with uncompromised conviction. We must rally to the cry of Independence and demand that the rule of two parties controlled by the same interests must finally be defeated.
In the end, we are the hope of America and we must never give in.
No retreat, no surrender.
[Note: Originally posted on Buzzle.com 11/7/04]