Friday, October 22, 2004

Fighting for the win, preparing for the loss
One of the things I've really been struggling with lately is how to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of Bush's re-election. While I really believe that turnout and an energized base is going to give Kerry the win in places like Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida, the polls are mixed. Bush supporters have reason to be optimistic.

I've been so amped up about this thing for so long, even more so than in 2000, that I've really got to figure out how I'm going to handle a Kerry loss. The temptation for many progressives will be simply to give up on politics altogether, to concentrate on single-issue activist groups and organizations, or to leave the Democratic party for the Greens or some other upstart. But I think that precisely the opposite is true.

Even if Kerry loses, the long-term struggle remains. How can the Democrats become competitive in places across the U.S. where the Republicans have established dominance? If Democrats abandon the party en masse because of a narrow election defeat this year, it would catastrophic for the short and medium-term prospects for progressive causes. To abandon control of governance in this country to the current leadership of the Republican party would be to capitulate to an agenda of top-down class warfare, militarism, and discrimination. The erosion of progressive values would continue apace, as Bush and his successors dominate the Supreme Court and use the next census to entrench GOP control of the House.

Though a Kerry loss would involve tremendous losses for labor, the working class, women, gays, and others over the next four years, it should not be cause for undue despair or flight to Canada. Bush in unlikely to win with anything more than a bare majority in the popular vote or the Electoral College. A substantial number of Americans would be receptive to positive, visionary alternatives to the Republican agenda. It is these people that the Democrats should focus on after November 2nd.

We will not have George W. Bush to run against in 2008. Four years from now the Democrats will have to offer a candidate with a real vision about the future. In the next four years, it is imperative that we get the think tanks cranking out policy papers, progressive public intellectuals working the editorial pages, and organizations like America Coming Together maintaining staff and momentum, re-establishing the Democrats and their ideas as the party with the ideological vision and creativity to usher in another era of peace and prosperity.

It's about the brand name of the Democratic party. And it needs to be done no matter who wins on November 2nd.


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