"It is an inaccuracy to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for any political office."
HL Mencken's rather jaundiced view of politicians and the political process that spawns them seems strangely appropriate to me these days. There was a time when I rejected this appraisal of our system of politics as I embraced the rightness of the direction of the Democratic Party. Today the reverse is true, I fully appreciate Mencken's quirky yet honest judgement and reject the sputtering, inwardly focussed and conservative led Party I once called mine own.
This was reinforced the other evening as I watched Real Time with Bill Maher. Those few of you who have never seen this HBO series should do so as soon as you can. Among his guests were Mia Farrow, Joe Scarborough, John Ridley (NPR), Barney Frank and Seymour Hirsch. Frank, a former hero of mine truthfully, a man who stood up with courage and honesty when some who shared his lifestyle would avoid public office like the plague, a man who responded to homophobic slurs with dignity and humor and one whose political views were coincidental with my own.
That he and Scarborough made the sparks fly is obvious to any who are familiar with their two political leanings, about as divergent as they come. Yet Scarborough, with whom I agree about as often as an eclipse occurs, spoke with passion and conviction while Frank was apologetic and filled with excuses for the inaction of the new Democratic majority. He actually cringed from Joe's ridiculous charges of a war being waged against christians when the moment begged for his wit and clarity. If such an attack exists it is certainly a counter attack, but Barney knows this full well yet refuses to be drawn into the inference that he is anti religious, typical democratic cowardice these days, sad to say. Of course Maher dismissed the charge with his usual brassy personality.
Frank, after Sy Hersch set the stage with his dire warnings that this administration must be stopped, this war must be defunded and Bush must be impeached, uttered the current democratic mantra about too few, too soon and too hard. I heard Harry Truman yelling for him to get the hell out of the kitchen, clear as day. When this is the very best that the Democratic Party can muster, when the GOP, a minority party, just as the Dems were a bit ago, can halt bills from reaching the floor, can upset the agenda and halt progress, the questions that begs an answer is obvious; why were the minority democrats not this successful against the dire attacks on our constitution, our liberty and our nation?
"When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule, the majority is wrong."
Eugene V. Debs
I would, in fairness, add that there are currently over fifty investigations in the initial stages of development, subpoenas are being issued as I type this, and actions may be forthcoming. I listened to a portion of the Waxman hearings on the veterans heath care issues today, listened to the testimony, heartbreaking it was too, of the wife of one returning soldier who was so brain damaged as to be unable to recognise his own wife. This brave trooper was labeled as "slow" in high school, according to the VA, and thus eligible for only half his pension. Was he slow when enlisting? Was he slow when sent to Iraq? Gaia knows I hate this administration with a passion, but I hate the political system that has enabled Bush even more.
I would urge those of you who continue to believe in the Democratic Party as the solution to wage ceaseless war upon their silences and their seeming refusal to take this to the electorate. I believe strongly in the goodness of the American people, in their sense of justice and fair play. It is a pity that the Party seems not to share this view.
I would end this seeming diatribe with the words of a dear friend, now passed on., the valedictorian of my High School class and one known to you, possibly, as the leader of the free speech movement in Berkeley so long ago:
There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you cannot take part, you cannot even passively take part. And youve got to put your bodies on the gears, and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus. And youve got to make it stop.
Mario Robert Savio
Rest in peace Bob old friend, we will, sooner or later, do as you suggest.