Burn Down the Mission
Well, there it is, the end of cautious optimism. Bush wins and believes he has a mandate to further the means of the very wealthy, "privatize" Social Security and slice up the social safety net, repeal civil rights and environmental protection measures, reverse Roe v. Wade, appoint radical theocrats to the Supreme Court and judicial circuits, to strafe and bulldoze and flip the bird to the rest of the world. Looks like he also will continue on course with the undermining of the public school system, but I can't really feel too sad about that given its results: a 51% idiocy rate. The brakes are off and the wingnuts control all branches of government. As Matt Yglesias says, we are about to see Bush Unleashed. Says gambling addict, S/M clubber, and right-wing moralist Bill Bennett in today's National Review:
"Having restored decency to the White House, President Bush now has a mandate to affect policy that will promote a more decent society, through both politics and law. His supporters want that, and have given him a mandate in their popular and electoral votes to see to it. Now is the time to begin our long, national cultural renewal ('The Great Relearning,' as novelist Tom Wolfe calls it) — no less in legislation than in federal court appointments. It is, after all, the main reason George W. Bush was reelected."
If I had a flag, it would be flying upside down today.
On the other hand (because that's the name of this game), lil' W is going to have to get his soft white hands dirty in the pile of sh*t he's created. How will he wage more preemptive wars without a draft or something like it? How will he bail out the economy as allegiance shifts from the dollar to the euro? How will he be able to maintain the mirage of keeping America safe when his tanned and rested friend Osama bin Laden strikes again, as he most certainly will? Will all citizens have to sign loyalty oaths now to keep themselves out of Guantánamo or some similar hell? With nothing to stop him, he is going to have to drive in the hateful, divisive wedges that his evangelical/elite base demands: gay men and lesbians will become second-class citizens, the Old Testament will replace the Constitution as our guiding document, and dissent and privacy will become relics of a different age. History will show that this was a wrong turn for America, but by then, as Bush himself says with a shrug, we'll all be dead.
I hope the Democratic Party finds its soul or that a new progressive party takes root and reclaims the word liberal, as in liberty, meaning "free, belonging to the people." It's not a dirty word. It's the foundation of the meaning of the Statue of Liberty. It's used in the Book of Leviticus, the same text frequently used to justify hate crimes against "Sodomites," and it's inscribed on the Liberty Bell: "Proclaim Liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof" (Lev. 25:10). In spite of the fundamentalist millstone around our collective neck, this close race proves there is a place in America for the values of compassion and inclusion, a desire for reason to triumph over fear. We just need to find leaders who pay no attention to that pollster behind the curtain and have the courage to enact the stronger side of our national character, the side that gave us Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., John and Robert Kennedy, the New Deal, the Stonewall Riots, the massive protests against Bush's war. While the Republicans tacked to the Far Right, Democrats aimed for the middle Right and lost. The division would not be any deeper this morning if Kerry had taken a strong stand for the poor and disenfranchised, raged against the wrong-headed occupation of Iraq, or vowed to make America safe for all Americans.
There is a lot of gloating in Freeperville today. So be it. You can win the battle and still lose the war. And today, it is a war.