November 5, 2008
America awakened this morning to a new dawn for our republic. The politics of division and hate were soundly rejected. The politics of fear and loathing were loudly repudiated. The nightmare that was the Neo-Con vision for America has ended with an eruption of decency and civility. Crowds gathered together to weep and rejoice that things may have turned a corner for this country with the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.
That title implies what has been sorely missing for the past decade as the warped manipulations of Karl Rove were allowed to run roughshod over the nation. We have been anything but united. We have in fact been the Divided States of America. We have allowed ourselves to be defined by forces who sought to only further drive wedges between us as a people. We were color coded for our convenience – red or blue; take a stand. We were labeled for ease of recognition – conservative or liberal/republican or democrat; pick a side. We were given a direction to lean toward – right or left; identify who you are. The object was of course to divide. To provide everyone with someone to blame. The other guy – the other side. As long as we were busy finding someone else to blame for our lot in life, we never would remember that we are all Americans. We are not supposed to be either red or blue; we were supposed to be red white and blue. The politics of hate and division worked masterfully though and there we were last night; peeking out from under the covers of a lost decade devoted to everything that can be wrong with humanity. When the nation was called for Barack Obama I could almost hear a nation exhale and hope once more.
That is not to say that Obama is the panacea for all that ails us. But he ran a campaign based upon hope and not fear. He ran against a derisive and corrosive opponent, who only regained his humanity in his concession speech last night. John McCain is a perfect example of what the politics of hate can do to someone. At least in defeat, he remembered who he really was and sent forth a rallying cry to America to stand with President-Elect Obama. For that he deserves credit. But back to Obama – it is not fair to assume that he will solve it all. What made last night special was that America woke up from the fear coma the Bush Administration placed her in after 9-11. A man ran for president with a primarily positive message about representing all Americans. Not trying to divide us against each other. Not embracing the Neo-Con vision of divisive politics which has nearly ruined us for so long now. THAT is where the hope is. That our discourse can truly return to some form of civility again and that we can work together for the common good of all Americans, not just those that have the same label as us.
I say this because now it falls to the progressive movement to redefine itself. I have seen and read some things today already that give me pause. “We” did not win last night; America did. We must be very careful that we do not now become what we abhor. The idea was not to replace one bad ideological regime with another. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The problem the past eight years was not the Republican Party. It was that they had no checks and balances in a system designed to survive on them. Once the GOP controlled congress abdicated their constitutional duty to provide oversight and balance to the Executive Branch – that is where we lost our way. When party became more important than country. Here is the bad news folks. Corruption exists in all parties. If you do not think it can happen on the “left”; then you are sorely delusional. The progressive movement in America needs to divorce itself from the labels and directions used to divide us against each other or we will simply become part of what we hate. The radical left in this country is no better than the radical right. The majority of America is somewhere in the middle. It is somewhat moderate.
Our vision must an inclusive one. A large part of the problem with the hard right ideologues is their complete and utter disdain for anyone with a differing opinion. We have to be bigger than that; better than that. The framework of this progressive vision must be based simply upon the truth. Not opinions and ideologies. The starting platform should be:
1) Massive election reform starting with repealing HAVA, declaring Election Day a national holiday, open source codes, transparency in all data and the restoration of exit polling. We cannot move forward of there is no trust in our elections.
2) Ending the era of massive deregulation disguised as “getting government out of our business.” Starting with the media, financial and housing markets. We cannot move forward if we cannot trust what is reported.
3) Ending the Unitary Executive power grab and restoring the checks and balances to this country. This means ending signing statements and prosecuting any violations of law by previous administrations.
4) Restoring the Constitution. This means repealing the horrific Patriot Acts and all other legislation designed to oppress our civil liberties. This also includes closing Gitmo and ending torture as national policy. It means ending the wars of aggression against countries that never attacked us as well as the Bush Doctrine of bombing countries at random.
5) Getting money out of Washington. I know this might be more difficult, but the lobbying situation means that our elected officials are bought and sold every day in front of our eyes and it needs to stop.
I am more than willing to have a debate about more planks to the platform. Education and healthcare are obviously important. I am merely suggesting these as a starting point. The true point of the article is for the foundation to be set not on the same divisive political schemata we have seen employed for the past decade. We must be bigger than that if we are to truly progress. Yelling and pointing fingers is not progressive. Blaming others is not progressive. They are the very things we have railed against for so long now and it is my sincere hope that we can learn from. Learn what we do not wish to emulate. It is time for the progressive movement to stay in the middle of America and take in all opinions from both sides in a concerted effort to find common ground to march this country forward to better times and a more prosperous future. Let the radicals on the left and right yell and scream at each other about how they both are destroying the fabric of society. There is too much work to be done to be bothered with such distractions.
That goes for the whining and crying crowd too. I have seen them all out in force today, claiming Obama is a secret skull and bonesman and just part of the Rockefellers or Trilaterals, or whatever else can undermine the new president before he even steps into office. Enough already! These were the same yahoos who were infecting article threads for the past six months trying to convince everyone not to bother voting because the election had already been stolen for McCain…oops. If all you have to add is a raving conspiracy theory wrapped around belligerence, please take it somewhere else. Adults are now talking. I like a good conspiracy as much as the next guy but cant we wait until he is sworn in before we make such ludicrous statements like Obama is just like Bush? If you do not have a viable solution then save the complaints. We have had eight years of complaints without solutions and it contributed to what we were fighting against. You are part of the problem.
To me, a progressive is forward moving and thinking. Progressives do not embrace the politics of hate and division. We need to rise above the rancor and revulsion of Rovian politics. Yesterday the America people rejected it. We need to take heed of that or it will be us at the end of the next revolution. In vogue is only one mistake away from being obsolete. We can excuse ourselves for fighting fire with fire during the Bush years but for now a new dawn has arrived in America and we need to rise with it. We need to lead the way out of the pit of fear and loathing. We need to extend a hand to those who we may not have liked very much and show them that they have a place in America as well. We all do. As Barack was fond of saying, we are not a red America and a blue America; we are the United States of America. For too long now those states have been divided by bitterness and a concerted effort to pit one against another. For too long now we have stumbled around in the darkness of a decade devoid of vision, with a boogeyman around every corner to keep us in line. A philosophy that said that the illusion of security was worth the sacrifice of liberty. Yesterday America rejected that – thank God almighty. Now it is time to map the way forward. We can either be a part of the problems we have fought against for so long or we can be the light – showing the way out at the dawn of a new America.