Game plan

WARNING: Long entry. Get comfortable.

As has any good liberal, I’ve been doing a hefty load of soul-searching in the past few days. It’s a tremendous loss one feels when one looks up and realizes that not only did the wrong guy win, but more than half the electorate helped him do so. It’s a hell of a ride: You go from hating the candidate to hating the people who voted for him, then back to hating the candidate, then to heavy drinking, then to a near-complete loss of faith in your fellow North Americans (Canada excluded), then back to heavy drinking, and finally to unconsciousness, where you’re plagued by dreams of Ashcroft in a toga, giving the thumbs down to the gladiator who’s about to impale you and your secular humanist friends on a barbed trident.

It was particularly bad here in Oklahoma, where the state went red (as it predictably will), but opted against conservative Democrat Brad Carson (who’d likely run as a Republican in most other states) and chose instead Tom Coburn, sterilizer of the poor and proponent of murdering his fellow doctors who perform abortions. The guy is beyond conservative, and probably beyond fascist in some cases; Coburn is, to put it as delicately as possible, just fucking crazy.

In short, our elected representatives nationwide are going from bad to worse, despite the fact that it sure seemed like every single person and his or her dog tried their goddamndest to prevent it. It wasn’t for lack of viable or electable candidates; say what you will about Kerry seeming aloof or mechanical, but I defy you to do some research into his past (yes, his Vietnam record) and not feel something like a surge of pride.

Here’s a point that’s getting coverage lately, but that seems pivotal to this election’s disastrous outcome: Because so many states got “We Hate Fags” amendments on their ballots, evangelicals turned out in droves to prove how much they hated fags*. While they’re at the polls, why not vote for the incurious warmongering lying coward who loves Jesus too? ‘Cause, y’know, he loves Jesus.

The evangelicals (a reported 4 million of them) are in large part to blame for this, never mind the fact that Bush will get plenty more of God’s children killed and maimed over the next four years. Also at fault are the people dimwitted and uncritical enough to buy Bush’s attacks on Kerry and their assertions that Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11 (last I heard, roughly 60 percent of Americans still believed this bullshit).

But blame in one hand and shit in the other, and see which one fills up faster, you might rightly say. What the hell are we supposed to do for the next four years?

Though the first thing that comes to mind is the futility of it, the fact is that reasonable people in this country have to dust themselves off and keep fighting, keep doing what they were doing before Tuesday’s fucking fiasco. (After taking a long vacation, I might add; there’s immense therapeutic value in turning off the news and drinking, reading, and watching VH1 Classic for about a week. Ask Greg.)

There’s a congressional election coming up in two years; this is a potential bright spot. Tom DeLay is, many think, on his way out: Plagued by the possibility of criminal charges for his blatantly illegal redistricting campaign activities, he won re-election this year by the narrowest of margins. When DeLay is either defeated or (let’s hope) incarcerated, the GOP House majority loses the guy who almost singlehandedly created the culture of intimidation and recrimination that keeps many House Republicans marching in lockstep, and often voting against their better instincts. (Read “The Hammer” by Lou DuBose and Jan Reid for more on DeLay’s generalized crackheaditude.)

Also, consider this, and let’s be frank here for a moment: Despite how much we may or may not believe in John Kerry, it’s highly doubtful he or anyone we’d have elected could clean up Bush’s horrifying mess in Iraq in the space of one term. (As a friend of mine put it, everything that happens in Iraq would’ve been Kerry’s fault by December.) Moreover, it’s a safe bet BushCo will make things significantly worse, even if they do manage to set up a puppet democracy as promised. In short, Bush now gets to wallow in the disaster he’s created for another four years, during which time, one might argue, the voting public may well get a better idea of the magnitude of the cataclysm that is Iraq. (Yes, I realize who we’re dealing with when we refer to the public. Lay off, I’m being relentlessly optimistic.)

A key part of said disaster is its cost, and if you think we’re in debt now, wait through another four years of this war and see how far in the hole we are then. A wise man I know recently theorized that the Republican party may tear itself apart over the next four years, as the rift between idiot neocons and true fiscal conservatives will only deepen as this administration’s reckless unfunded spending continues. This is certainly not impossible, and if the idea of a revolt among congressional fiscal conservatives in both houses seems outlandish to you, I’d suggest you’re not thinking hard enough. The best lousy scenario I can think of is that we end up with a centrist Republican candidate in 2008 (Senator McCain, you out there?).

It all might seem overly optimistic and naive. But what choice do we have? No one who truly believes in liberal values can honestly throw up their hands at this point ? believing in a fair, decent, non-theocratic nation isn’t possible for quitters. Honestly, I have no idea how long it will take for the nation’s morons to realize things aren’t going well under Bush and his ilk. But even 54 million jackasses can’t ignore what’s obvious forever.

Maybe.

* ? Quite a bit, it seems.

17 thoughts on “Game plan

  1. “Coburn is, to put it as delicately as possible, just fucking crazy.”

    Name-calling. Very weak.

    “But even 54 million jackasses can’t ignore what’s obvious forever.”

    And these “jack-asses” will suddenly and miraculously cease to be “jack-asses” when they come around to your way of thinking? C’mon.

    You’re right about one thing: mid-term elections come around in two years. And if the trend of the last 5 election cycles holds true, Republicans may have a fillibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

    There’s something for you guys to look forward to!
    -Keith

  2. And these “jack-asses” will suddenly and miraculously cease to be “jack-asses” when they come around to your way of thinking? C’mon.

    Um, pretty much.

    Technically, though, they won’t. It’s really more a matter of degrees; a jackass who turns their brain on when entering the voting booth, while less a jackass, is still capable of jackassitude elsewhere in life.

    Thanks for clarifying that. It’s healthy to re-examine one’s assumptions. You’ve opened my mind a bit today.

  3. Actually, “just fucking crazy” isn’t name-calling. Saying that Coburn is a moronic tool is name-calling, and it is also entirely accurate.

    Speaking about “rampant lesbianism in our schools” indicates one of two options: Coburn is off his rocker, or he’s just willing to wield a destructive and pointless conservative wedge issue with a minimum of political skill. Either way, he’s a moronic tool. There are many Democrats who are moronic tools (Terry McAuliffe, anyone?), but proud fools people like Tom Coburn put them to shame.

    Nice to see you writing here, Brian.

  4. My new friend Brian said “Thanks for clarifying that. It’s healthy to re-examine one’s assumptions. You’ve opened my mind a bit today.”

    I imagine you were being sarcastic (see, even a jackass can get it sometimes), but you’re welcome.
    -Keith

  5. Absolutely right on the coming rift between actual conservatives and “compassionate conservatives”… I mean, even that nutbag Buchanan knows that Bush isn’t in any way conservative, fiscally or otherwise. Now is the time for the Democrats to seize the mantle of fiscal conservatism and put nonsensical accusations of “tax-and-spend” behind them. Kerry would’ve done quite a bit for that, by rolling back Bush’s tax cuts ONLY for the rich and leaving the rest where they were, but let’s not forget that the two largest tax-cutters in the recent decades were Reagan and Kennedy; GHW Bush actually raised them dramatically after campaigning on a vow not to.

    The way forward is clear; the GOP has gone out on its fundy-Christian-PNAC pandering limb far enough, it’s time to saw it off.

  6. My good friend Scotty said “Speaking about “rampant lesbianism in our schools” indicates one of two options: Coburn is off his rocker, or he’s just willing to wield a destructive and pointless conservative wedge issue with a minimum of political skill.”

    Don’t worry- I assure you that I won’t be defending reactionary dribble of that nature. I just hate seeing political comment reduced to name calling. Let’s debate issues, not personalities.
    -Keith

  7. You want to feel worse? Consider eVoting. We’re all going to be disenfranchised in the next few years as that scourge spreads. It will lose the slim bit of attntion it was getting during the campaign now and allow it to be instituted in more states. Now is the time to stop that from happening. Any ideas?

  8. Scotty said “But name-calling is so much fun…”

    I know, I know. I’ve got some good ones for Nancy Pelosi, but it doesn’t make it right.
    -Keith

  9. Point taken, Keith. In all seriousness, and name-calling aside, Coburn’s got a truly spotty record as a legistlator. He served two terms in the House, then stepped down — to his credit, he was one of a very small number of the Class of ’96 who stuck to their pledge to term-limit themselves.

    I will give Coburn plenty of credit for sticking very close by his principles, even when it meant voting against the party line. He very much believed that pork-barrel spending was completely out of control — a traditional conservative idea — and so he voted against pork-infused bills whenever possible.

    The problem was that unfortunately a lot of federal budget money that states need for legitimate expenditures is often rolled in with true pork-barrel stuff. In Oklahoma’s case, a key portion of it was funding for our state highways, which are truly among the worst in the nation — something like 70 percent of the state’s bridges are in borderline dangerous shape, and it’s getting to the point where it’s been a safety issue for a while. Coburn’s votes against pork-barrel spending inadvertantly kept a lot of much-needed money from the state he was elected to represent. I applaud his principles, but there’s a point in politics where you have to hold your nose and accept imperfect legislation for the good of your constituency.

    All of which is to say that I don’t just opine that he’s fucking crazy; I’ve got some somewhat bipartisan gripes with him as well. Though as Scotty correctly points out, the name-calling really is much more fun. Stupid mature discourse.

  10. Brian quite rightly said “The problem was that unfortunately a lot of federal budget money that states need for legitimate expenditures is often rolled in with true pork-barrel stuff.”

    No argument here. Its one of the reasons I wish the President (regardless of party) had the line-item veto.

    Then he said, “Though as Scotty correctly points out, the name-calling really is much more fun. Stupid mature discourse.”

    Hehehehe. I understand. I’ve been on the short end of the stick before. It’ll be okay. Don’t fall into the vitriolic trap. It illegitimizes your future arguments. And that’s no fun.
    -Keith (who thinks Brian’s a pretty cool dude)

  11. If Keith really wants to “debate issues”, why is it that the “name calling” is the only thing in this really long post that he chooses to speak to?

  12. Hey, Mona! Long time no hear!

    You asked “If Keith really wants to “debate issues”, why is it that the “name calling” is the only thing in this really long post that he chooses to speak to?”

    It is the only thing in this really long post that I object to on an intellectual level. I disagree with most everything Brian says, but he makes some pretty good arguments.

    For example, Brian says, “No one who truly believes in liberal values can honestly throw up their hands at this point ? believing in a fair, decent, non-theocratic nation isn’t possible for quitters.”

    Too right! I certainly disagree with the notion that Bush wants a theocracy, but to quote a cheesy cliche, “quitters never win”.

    Make your arguments, and I’ll make mine. That’s what makes America great.
    -Keith

  13. “Make your arguments, and I’ll make mine. That’s what makes America great.”

    then i have to wonder how long she will stay great, considering we have as president a man who doesn’t allow people with arguments to his view get within shouting distance.

  14. “It’s a tremendous loss one feels when one looks up and realizes that not only did the wrong guy win, but more than half the electorate helped him do so.”

    It’s going to be a long road back. The question is how did we really get here? There is a lot of talk about the reliability of those electronis voting machines that don’t have a paper trail. It seems they are manufactured by companies owned by republican neo cons. Check out possible irregularities at:
    http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/
    http://www.electoral-vote.com/
    Some people are claiming that the exit polls were only badly off in areas that had voting machines without a paper trail. It seems the machines are unreliable and can “flip” votes, register the vote for the wrong candidate, and there is no way to verify the vote because of the lack of a hard copy. Several people have written that when they went to the review screen it registered a vote for Bush when they intended to vote for Kerry. How many people knew to check?
    Check out some stories at: http://www.blackboxvoting.com/

    I don’t think there is anything we can do about this election, there is no way to verify those votes but all voters, liberal or conservative, have an interest in an honest tally of the votes.

    This is the first step in reclaiming our democracy.

  15. You know, I must be the worst liberal in America.

    While I think there’s no point in getting worked up over the word “marriage,” I do respect the fact that for a lot of people, it isn’t just a word that means a legal relationship. It has a literally sacred meaning that they feel must be vigorously protected. I can appreciate that, and I think when the question is really one about legal rights for gays, we should just be respectful of the word’s dual meaning and find another way to get what we want. As a guy with a boyfriend, I tell you right now that I don’t try to win dignity with the strategic deployment of nouns. I try to win it by being a good guy.

    I invite other folks to be bad liberals. In fact, I think we should all be the worst damn liberals we can be. And we should do it by refusing to let Republicans define what it means to be liberal.

    PS – I really do love grown-up Republicans. One of my favorite people to watch on TV is Tucker Carlson. As long as someone has a cohesive view of the world, I can respect ‘em and try to learn from them. Good Old Tucker, for all his attempts to justify some bad decisions by Bush, is at least intellectually honest with himself. It’s the silly stereotypes and sloppy double-standards that seem so much in vogue right now that drive me nuts.

    Also, I’m very much in favor of Mexican food. But I think that has less to do with me being a liberal than with Mexican food being delicious.

  16. Here’s an idea… it’s always fun to turn your opponents’ barbs back at them, and this post gave me a good one.

    For many years the GOP have loved calling the Dems “tax-and-spend liberals”. With this crap Bush is pushing, I recommend countering with something like “cut-tax-but-still-spend neoconservatives”. Maybe someone can come up with a catchier version of it – as it stands, I am having the work hard to keep the profanity out of it (eg. “cut-taxes-for-the-rich-and-still-fucking-spend-you-irresponsible-hypocritical-psycho” doesn’t really roll neatly off the tongue).