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Skinner
Posted by Skinner in General Discussion (01/01/06 through 01/22/2007)
Tue Nov 14th 2006, 02:46 PM
It's been a week since election day, and so far I haven't taken the time to post anything about it. I have had so much on my mind that each time I tried to gather my thoughts I didn't really know where to begin or what to say. If this ends up sounding like a stream-of-consciousness mishmash of random thoughts, that's because it is.

I think what I find most striking about our amazing run of victories last week -- winning back the House and Senate for the Democrats -- is that I'm not actually that excited about it. Don't get me wrong: I know that this is a huge deal, and I am glad that it happened. But beforehand, when I considered the possibility that we would have a huge win like this, I expected to spend the following week in a state of euphoria. That hasn't happened. At all. More than anything, I just feel emotionally drained. Pleased, but worn out.

I have a lot of friends who are not involved in politics, who apparently think of me as their friend who is obsessed with politics (probably with good reason). So, I got a lot of emails this past week that started with some variation of the words "I've been thinking of you." I suspect many other DUers received similar correspondence. Here's my favorite:

thinking of you

whatever part you and your bride played in this great moment for all mankind, we thank you. my god what a feeling! it's like han solo just showed up out of nowhere and shot away vader's ship. how's that for a profound historical analogy.

I hope that the profound historical analogy ends up being true. At the very least we know now that Han's been thawed out of carbon freeze.

A lot of people have been curious to know how I've been celebrating. Funny that. Here's how I celebrated: I painted one of the rooms in my house (more on that later), and I stopped checking my email. (If you're wondering why you haven't received a response to the message you sent me, that is the reason.) I was supposed to go through all the email yesterday but I got sidetracked. I will do my best to get through them all later today -- or Wednesday at the very latest.

One emotion which I was not expecting at all, but which I have been feeling since the election is this nagging feeling of bitterness. As I was painting, I foolishly put on the new Dixie Chicks CD, thinking that it would be appropriate background music for the crushing defeat of the Bush agenda at the hands of the American people. As I listened to the words to "Not Ready to Make Nice" I couldn't help thinking about what a huge waste the last six years have been. To be honest, I don't feel particularly sorry for the Dixie Chicks -- they're wealthy and famous and they'll be fine -- but I do feel some connection, some empathy for how they were singled out for such hatred and scorn simply because they figured out before the rest of America that the current president of the United States is an embarrassment and a fool who is not qualified for the job, and whose misguided policies have left our country morally and financially bankrupt. I wonder how the Dixie Chicks feel about the election results. Vindicated? Bitter? Yes, I feel vindicated. It's nice to know that the rest of the country finally figured out what we've been saying all along. But it is incredibly sad that it took so long. How many lives had to be ruined, how much did our moral standing in the world have to be squandered before people finally woke up? What a massive waste. It makes me angry and bitter and sad. I try not to think about it, and I considered not mentioning it in this post, but I think it needed to be said. If only so I can get it out of my system.

So, what now?

I think perhaps another reason I am having difficulty celebrating is because I think it may be a long, long time before the current mess gets cleaned up. I fear that fixing everything that the Republicans have fucked up may not even be possible. I know many of you have extremely high expectations for the new Congress -- in some cases unrealistically high, in my opinion. I think you are probably setting yourself up for disappointment. Bush is still president, and there isn't going to be a progressive revolution anytime soon. Even if we held the House and Senate and the Presidency, fixing the damage is a gargantuan task that could take years. Voters don't particularly like the idea of gridlock, but I suspect it may be the best that we can hope for, at least for the next two years. Make no mistake: gridlock is a hell of a lot better than the steaming pile of excrement we've been subjected to for the last six years. If the new Congress can stop the Bush Administration from making things worse, then they will have done a great service to their country. If they can start to turn things around, that's even better.

The Democrats should immediately start work on implementing the policies they articulated during the campaign. Raising a minimum wage is a no-brainer -- it's very popular with voters, it will help countless Americans, and it shows the clear difference between Democrats and Republicans. Implementing all the security recommendations in the 9/11 report is also a no-brainer. It will make this country safer, and it shows that Democrats are serious about national security. I suspect that most Americans will be shocked to learn that it wasn't already done. Doing so would illustrate the stark contrast between the two parties: While George W. Bush was busy making this country less safe with his idiotic war in Iraq, he completely ignored the 9/11 report. Implementing the 9/11 recommendations will also have a useful side-effect: It will provide Democrats with much-needed political cover on national security so we can push for an end to the war in Iraq.

I know many progressives want to see Congress move quickly to impeach the president; I am not one of them. It is my opinion that doing so would be a political disaster for our party, but more importantly, moving quickly to impeach could do grave harm to our country. Believe me, I would personally love to see Bush get impeached. But doing so now would come at much too great a cost -- if it could be made to happen at all, which is doubtful. I believe that impeaching Bush -- coming so soon after Clinton was impeached -- could begin a cycle of recrimination that would be extremely difficult for our country to get out of. I suspect that the next Democratic president would likely find himself impeached as well. That is, if there were another Democratic president, which probably wouldn't happen in 2008 if we tried to impeach Bush. To be clear, I have not ruled out impeachment. I fully support aggressive oversight of the Bush Administration by the Congress, including investigations where they are appropriate. But we cannot possibly impeach based on what we have now. My view is very simple: Investigations first, then we can discuss impeachment.

It is my opinion that humiliating the Republicans at the ballot box is a much more effective way of rolling back the damage done by the Bush Administration. Sure was great to see George Allen, Rick Santorum, Conrad Burns, Mike DeWine, and their ilk get sent packing. Especially George Allen and Rick Santorum. And what's great is that it was done by the American people themselves -- not by a bunch of partisan hacks in Washington, DC. Looks like the Republicans' prospects for 2008 were pretty well gutted in the process. Giuliani and McCain are the only ones left -- and everyone knows Giuliani has no chance (except, perhaps, Giuliani). If you need more evidence of the current state of the Republican party, consider this: Trent Lott is running for Minority Whip.

In a nutshell, my opinion of the election and the current state of affairs in American politics is this: We -- and by "we" I mean this entire country -- we have taken the vital first step toward making America America again. So much harm has been done to this country, and there is a great deal of work to do. But for the first time in a long long time, I feel optimistic about the future. Which brings me to another issue...

In January the Democrats take control of the House and Senate, and a majority of governorships, and many more political offices across the country. But that is not the only major event happening in January. For my wife and I, something much more important is going to happen. You were going to find out eventually, so I suppose this is as good a time as any to share the good news.

We're having a baby. Our first child -- a boy -- due sometime in mid-January. His room is the one I've been painting. I am glad to know that he is going to be born into a world where we finally have a reason to think things are going to get better rather than worse.


PS: While I have your attention, I should probably remind you that this week is our last fund drive of 2006. You can donate here.
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David Allen
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Member since 2001
Washington, DC, USA
I am the owner and co-founder of Democratic Underground.
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