Tuesday, November 30, 2004

I've digested the election and it still tastes like week-old cheese
I'm not going to sit here and deny that I've been in a depressive funk since November 2nd, better known now as Black Tuesday, because quite frankly, I have been, and people have noticed. Today someone told me I needed to "get some sleep" despite the fact that I snoozed for 9 hours last night. Part of the funk has been a natural reaction to a tremendously dispiriting and crushing loss at the polls, and facing the reality of total Republican control of the federal government. Part of it has also been yet another setback for the graduate student union at Penn, GET-UP, which was really counting on a Kerry administration to help reverse the National Labor Relations Board's decision to strip graduate employees at private universities of the right to organize. And part of it is that I just don't like to lose, especially to that clodding band of inept ideologues and mouth-breathing moralizers known as the Bush coalition.

But equally depressing has been the pervasive, and probably necessary, Democratic soul-searching -- you know, what did we do wrong, how can we change, why aren't we loved? We Hearted Ohio and Florida, but Ohio and Florida didn't Heart us back. Is it because we didn't quote the Bible enough, or because we didn't trash Janet Jackson, or because we watch too much Will & Grace, or because we weren't willing to join our loving God in Hating Fags, or because we refuse to join the reactionary right in denying women their reproductive rights, or because John Kerry didn't connect with Hamburger Nation, or because we didn't personally hunt down, kill, scalp, and fry enough terrorists, or because we didn't run a Southerner or a Midwesterner or because blue-staters don't understand what makes people tick in the "Heartland"? I've got my own answers to most of these questions, and my own ideas about how to win in 2006 and beyond, but I have to confess that it's all got me feeling a little bit run-down. And feeling like we need to remind ourselves why it's good to live in Blue America and to be on the side of justice, progress, and humanity.

So here's 10 things to start us off, things that I'm proud of and make me believe that eventually we'll win:

1) The Democrats are the party of the cities and inner-ring suburbs, of neighbors and neighborhoods, of integration and unions, of culture and immigrants, of restaurants and theaters, of small grocery stores and businesses; the suburbs and "exurbs", the land of Applebees and Wal-Mart, freeways and sprawl, segregation and market extremism, fear, loathing and isolation, belong to our opponents.
2) The Democrats are the party of compassion, of a minimum wage and the right to form unions, of obligation to your fellow human beings. Our opponents stand for unbridled corporate individualism.
3) The Democrats are the party of reproductive freedom, of equal wages and rights for women, of encouragement for female professionals, of the first female Vice Presidential candidate. Our opponents stand for wage hierarchy and traditional gender roles.
4) The Democrats are the party of immigration, of welcoming newcomers to America, of integrating but not assimilating them, of providing decent wages and a modicum of benefits for those who contribute to society. Our opponents stand for nativism, racism, and closed borders.
5) The Democrats are the party international cooperation, fair trade, nuclear common sense, and compassionate internationalism. Our opponents stand for aggressive unilateralism, unrestricted trade, first-strike nuclear posturing, and militarism as a first and best option.
6) The Democrats are the party of equal rights, tolerance, and pride for gays and lesbians. Our opponents stand for, and explicitly base their electoral strategy upon, loathing of gays and lesbians, restricting their rights, and maintaining their status as second-class citizens.
7) The Democrats stand for the preservation of open spaces, the integrity of national parks and forests (whether they contain oil or not), the strengthening of clean air and water laws, and better fuel standards for cars and trucks, and of energy independence. Our opponents stand for unabashed exploitation of all natural resources, bigger SUV's, and gutting the environmental regulations that have helped stem the tide of industrial destruction over the past 30 years.
8) The Democrats stand for the principle that every American has the right to health care. Our opponents, alone in the industrial, civilized world, stand for the principle that your level of life-saving medical treatment depends on how much money you make.
9) The Democrats believe in honest negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians for a just resolution of their dispute. Our opponents have aligned themselves with people who believe that no resolution is possible or necessary.
10) The Democrats believe that income inequality is a threat to democracy itself. Our opponents are unrepentant purveyors of top-down class warfare.

I could go on, but it's late. I know we lost, but I'm still proud of who I am and what I believe in, and I'm not about to give it up. I'm sorry if some of these positions are temporarily unpopular or out of style, but if you start basing your principles on what's popular, you've pretty much turned yourself into a focus group. I say no retreat, no surrender. Surrender is depressing.

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