Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Ship Of Fools

Nov. 3 dawned here with cold, damp, onshore gusts. Not a raging storm, but harsh weather - not conducive to smooth sailing - to say the least.

Even though votes remain to be counted in 3 states, Kerry seems ready to concede. So I sit here, trying to sort out something to take from all this. It’s not easy.

Is e-voting the reason behind the incredibly large discrepancy between exit polls and apparent outcome? Is there significant old-school fraud? Who cares; it’s mute now.

Where is the youth vote? Some reports have less than 1 in 10,of the 18 – 24 age bracket, voting. In another report, 17% turned out in FLA, which is what it was in 2000. Where is the huge new voter turnout which was supposed to favor Kerry? Was the republican ground game truly as effective?

Some are pointing to ‘divisive’ issues, like gay marriage, as a problem in getting the core base to vote for Kerry. That makes no sense to me. One consistent frustration I personally felt throughout this process, was dealing with Bush supporters who actually expressed opinions completely contrary to Bush policy. What they felt was in their best interests - what they thought were important issues – were regularly in line with Kerry’s plan, not Bush’s. Yet, they still went with Bush. No, there’s a bigger cultural message (some say ‘lie’) that the Republicans have crafted. When they say moral leadership, it resonates, even though it’s the antithesis of morality. The ‘vision’ thing is important, but it’s only half of the problem. I have met hundreds of Kerry volunteers who have their own understanding and vision – but the democratic party isn’t hearing and implementing.

It’s been a long time coming, but even the most diehard Dem should seriously question whether the Democratic Party is broken beyond repair; obsolete and ready for the junk yard. I’m sadly convinced they are currently incapable of developing and executing BIG strategies, on a scale which can counter the Republican machine. I’ve personally experienced, on the local level, a party operationally out of touch with the grassroots. A party unwilling to embrace and leverage the energy and pent up frustration that exists. The many 527s and volunteer forces, by their very existence, shows me the Democratic club didn’t provide the safe haven many were searching for.

By BIG strategies, I mean much more than tactical plans dealing with the count, the constituency and the issues. Whether attack ads work, or not, is also a tactical question, not a strategic one. The Republicans have two big strategies that I can point to – and they have been in play for a while now. The first is how they converted the South, always a one-party region, from Democrat to Republican. That began way back in the 70s. The second is how they gradually took control of the state legislatures, controlling redistricting so as to solidify lasting power; another decades-long process. All of this took centralized leadership – something the Democrats have traditionally resisted, in Pollyanna-esque quaintness. And therein lies the fundamental problem, if you ask me.

Now that Kerry is conceding, getting the votes counted and keeping the pressure on to stop election fraud is important, but won’t stop future Republican solidification of power. It should be done, of course. But we now have a one party government, which does not reflect the hopes and dreams of a significant percentage of the country. The core republican message - entitlement over equality – is the message that greases the corporate wheels, but it also appeals to individual aspirations for a better future. When you tie that to a centralized efficiency which knows how to work The Vote, you win.

The Democratic ship is rudderless now. I don’t know if the answer is Democracy For America, but I think they’re not dead yet. For sure, something new is needed – and it’s not some quasi-cultural message. Beyond that, I’m sorry to say I’m at a loss to express what it is. I’m not a politician! All I know is we are in for 4 more years of hard weather. For sure, the national mourning begins. But you know what? My anger and disappointment have already morphed – I’m feeling drawn to finding the new fight. It’s bad, but it’s not over. No way – these guys will not walk away vindicated, into history. There will be a new phoenix rising, if there are enough people, like you, who can keep faith in the struggle. And there are. The Democratic party leadership has let us down; not Kerry, not the people. I remain ready to help a NEW PARTY get this country on a sustainable track, where the separation of church and state is augmented with a separation of corporate and state. Some where in there, we have a future.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home