America will wake up on November 8th, 2006 from a five year long nightmare. The sun is rising on America with the chance to set a new course for a country led so far astray, for so long. As Americans we all marched to the polls and took our country back from the most cynical, vilest forces of the fringe of this country. People who preyed upon our fears and sense of collective loss. People who used our collective grief from 911 to advance the most sinister of agendas that benefited only the most affluent in society. The wave that started last night when the first results started coming in did not stop until it had morphed into a tsunami washing away the filth and morass that has held us all captive during the start of the 21st century.
That is the good news America, and now the bad. What comes with the tsunami are expectations that need to be met over the next two years, if any substantial change is really to occur. The hard cold reality is the core problem in all of what has happened recently, is the failed two-party system. The sad, sorry truth is that the party that is democratic is no better than the party that is republican. There are individual people in each party that are no doubt good honorable men and women. They went to Washington with the best of intentions and fell into the cesspool that our government of waste and corruption has become. Make no mistake newly elected democratic majority, the spotlight is now upon you. The road will not be easy, particularly with the president trying to protect himself for the next two years. The power shift tonight was not a referendum upon what the Democratic Party offered but rather, what they GOP had provided for the past five years. There are several key things that the new majority MUST do to prevent becoming two year wonders and avoid falling into the obscurity of history as being the party that wasted this most glorious opportunity. The opportunity to do what is right, not what is politically expedient.
1) The Iraq War the war must end and it must end now. This was the number one issue that people went to vote for today. They do not want to hear a milquetoast-middle-of-the-road answer. They do not want to hear about scaling down. They want real answers, real fast. There are too many dead and more is simply not tolerable. Along with creating a definitive exit strategy, there must also be accountability for the worst foreign policy disaster in our history. America will not tolerate the powerful pardoning the powerful anymore. There needs to be real investigations into the Downing Street Memos, Valerie Plame, the Office of Special Plans, and any facet of this war and the lies that led us into it. That includes real audits of the contracts that were handed out, what role the administration played in awarding them and rewarding the sloth and blatant rip-offs of the American people, at the expense of our courageous troops. The right can cry all day long about partisanship, that is not what this should be about. It is about the truth. We pay the bills; we have the inherent right to the receipts. Remember the number two driving force today for voters was corruption. That corruption occurred at many levels. It must end now, and it must end truthfully. America will not sit by and allow what happened after the Reagan administration. Criminals are criminals. Period, end of story.
2) The Constitution of the United States it is time to resuscitate the fundamental document of our republic. It is time to tell the president that America does not stand for torture. It is time to tell the president that America does not stand for water boarding. It is time to go find the garbage can Habeas Corpus was tossed into so casually into and put it back into the fabric of our country. It is time to have real investigations into Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. It is time for Jose Padilla to see his day in court. It is time to restore the rule of law. It is time to get rid of "free speech zones" and signing statements indicating the president will not follow the law. These are not liberal ideals. They are not conservative ideals. They are American ideals and it is time to restore the image of the country and our basic moral character.
3) Voting Overhaul forget reform, the system needs to be overhauled and it better happen in the next two years. One must understand that it is easy to steal 4-5% of the vote, which is all the republican party needed in 2004. The difference today is that they could not overcome the massive discontent and turnout. The HAVA was designed to help only the republicans, not the people. Legitimate voters have been disenfranchised through HAVA and ILLEGAL scams and schemes cooked up by Karl Rove and the GOP. People who have violated the law in rigging elections, such as Ken Blackwell need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Let me be clear. Ken Blackwell is a criminal and deserves to be in jail for what he did to the voters of Ohio in 2004. They resoundingly told him as much by trouncing him in his bid for Governor today. If the message is not sent to would-be-criminals that any screwing around with the votes of America, then no lessons will be learned. Make no mistake democrats, you won because so many people voted today that the GOP could not steal it. But the apparatus is still in place. It is still there waiting for 2008, where it will be far easier to steal one presidential election as opposed to over 400 House elections. Along with this overhaul, a restoration to the validity of exit polling, nationwide, needs to happen immediately. The lies being spread by the GOP to undermine exit polling so they can cover their theft has got to stop. Lastly, a verifiable paper trail of some fashion must be passed.
4) The economy it is time to call a spade a spade. The new trickle down economics has not worked any more than the original one did. It is time for the rich to start paying their fair share. No more of this nonsense about a tax cut for everyone, which is really just GOP-Speak for a tax cut for the rich. No more nonsense about the Estate Tax. It is time to heal the middle class. It is time for universal health care, at least for children for now. It is time to stop the special interest and lobbying priorities that suppress the real concerns of people, over corporate interests. It is time for a real increase in the minimum wage. It is time to balance the budget and bring back a shred of fiscal sanity to the people who actually pay the bills. It is time to correctly count the unemployment wage and stop misrepresenting what is going on in this country. It is time to correct the injustices to Pell Grants and college financial aid to put education back within reach for inner city students. It is time to correct the horrific debt enslavement of the "bankruptcy reform", paid for by the credit card lobby. It is time to uncover what happened early in the Bush administration in those closed door sessions when our energy policy was crafted by the energy lobby. It is time to tell the GOP to stop screwing around with Social Security. It is time to put to rest the scam of Health Savings Accounts. It is time to correct the egregious problems with prescription drugs. It is time to restore the prospect of the American dream, sold off piece by piece to corporate interests, to the American people.
5) Media Regulation Often ignored, the GOP has deregulated media ownership rules to the point that nine companies own 95% of all media in this country. It has led to a corporate media that often did the bidding of the party in power. The formerly revered 4th Estate has been reduced to parrots; calling the repeating of party propaganda, news, instead of holding our elected officials accountable. It may seem trivial compared to some of the other priorities listed here but keep in mind that it is the media that often influences close elections.
6) Ethics As previously indicated, corruption was the number two reason for the high turnout today. America is sick and tired of the powerful thinking they can do anything they want. They are tired of the rich getting richer while the poor get the shaft. They are tired of Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham. They are tired of Mark Foley. It is time to restore honor to public service.
This may seem quite daunting but America deserves nothing less. Today was a referendum on what has gone wrong for the last five years. In 2008 it will be a referendum on what was done right for the next two years. America wants its children to come home and not in boxes anymore. America wants the Constitution restored and the notion that security without liberty will no longer stand. America wants integrity restored to the electoral process and to the halls of Congress. America wants opportunity restored to the middle class that has been suffocated for so long now. America wants to be able to trust the media. America wants America back.
A new day dawned in this country today. A tsunami has washed away the stain of the past five years. When the dust settles there will be cause for celebration for an America who stood up and collectively said "no more" to would be tyrants and thieves. But the glee of the victory will need to be quickly muted by the awesome responsibility that will now ensue. America will be watching very closely to what their historic vote today will portend. The temptation will be great to play the two party game and under the guise of bi-partisanship, bury the truth about the past five years. The democrats would be wise to not give in to that temptation. It is not merely enough to move forward with the correct agenda, but to hold those accountable who would try to use their power to undermine the nation. In the end, we are still supposed to be a nation of laws, not men.
The above six points are crucial to truly correcting the abuses of the last five years. All may not be accomplished over the next two years but the new majority must at least try. They must do what their predecessors would not or could not do; they must represent the people of this great country with the humble understanding that the consent of the governed can be revoked again, in just two short years. I pray they take that consent far more seriously than has occurred in the past.