Five friggin' years later. What have we learned?
Well, I learned that I'd spent far too much of the previous fifteen years listening to the other side. I wasn't being generous; I'd merely chosen another way of being a coward. Fact is, I was right all along -- all along, I had the compassion and the conscience and the sense of community and the better ideas, and the other side only had whatever dumb argument or selective set of factoids would best justify their complete and willing subjugation to the world's real fascists, the megacorporations. By "the other side" I do not mean conservatives; I've also learned that much. By the other side I mean the bullies and weaklings and emotional cripples that have stolen the mantle "conservative." And I have learned that no amount of reasoning and no amount of compassion can reach them -- indeed, it's a species of arrogance that I would think so. We can't stop folks who've chosen calling me "traitor" as their way of supporting Mr. Bush. We can only choose ways of living (you know, engage with our countryfolk, write Congress, use less energy, eat better food, walk more, drive less) that will inspire more people to be like us.
Tell you what else I've learned, though: Americans are a lot smarter than their Congressfolk. Some two-thirds of said Congressional idiots passed a resolution over the summer declaring that the Iraq war is an essential part of the war on terror so-called, but some three-fifths of Americans, judging by recent polls, think the Iraq war and the war on terror so-called are completely separate issues. Almost 80% of America's Senators -- including John Kerry who thought he so beautifully timed his change of heart and Chuck Hagel whose speech explaining his yes vote sounded an awful lot like a speech explaining a no vote -- gave Mr. Bush the authority to take Mr. Hussein out. But American sentiment about the war never varied very far from 50-50 during the run-up to war. Right-wingers love to bust out the 70% support figure taken during the week Saddam's statue fell, but as I recall that 70% figure included 15 percentage points of folks saying they were against the war but supported Mr. Bush, which means that, again, real support for the war wasn't far from 50-50. If that was the best Mr. Bush could do against a tyrant quite possibly unloved even by his own mother, with the "liberal media" basically regurgitating whatever Mr. Bush wanted them to, then Americans must be a pretty good bunch.
I wish it translated into more action too. But our great enemy, corporate greed, is not exactly a pushover. And our failures have been mostly tactical, and I don't mean just casting our lot in with the aforementioned John Kerry when he didn't have what it took to win. Mainly we've failed to realize that this "base" they keep saying Republicans have isn't a base at all, but a wedge. 51% of the people, it seems, voted for Mr. Bush, but I couldn't live here if I thought 51% of Americans were crazy. I'd say, at most, only about 30% of Americans are crazy (said figure representing Mr. Bush's low approval rating). We may be up against a lot of fellow-Americans who don't change, who don't listen, and who don't reason. But they can't beat the other 70% in a fair fight, or a fair election.
There's no alchemical formula for "reaching independents," no matter how much cash the Democratic Party spends trying to discover one. But I know that "reaching out" without standing your ground means you'll fall. The only way to reach anyone, at any time, is to be yourself, to be honest about your feelings and your thoughts. That's what I do here, for better or worse. I don't care whether it produces a Democratic majority in the House and Senate in two months. I care whether it helps produce a better America. I have faith that it does.