The 2006 mid-term elections are likely to reflect all of these perceptions with marching orders for incumbents and a sweep of new Democrat freshmen (hopefully).
I say hopefully because we Democrats shot ourselves in the feet often and at the worst of times (think no farther than Dukakis and Gore).
But besides electing new players who are more likely to steer clear of the many temptations and begin a severe housecleaning process, there are bigger issues that are making it neigh on impossible to effect meaningful change:
- We don't have a vocal moral compass like Mario Cuomo or Jesse Jackson used to offer. Critics have poked so many holes in them personally that their words no longer make us cry out with passion and committment.
- Our own social tendencies have been so verbally corrupted that we are fearful to even utter our desires for fear of indignant rebuttals (perhaps even harrassing reactions) from almost every front along with the distortion of our language, word by word, into meanings that we didn't intend.
- In addition to this language disconnect, there is also a disconnect between overall economic growth and the growing squeeze on many working Americans. Like his father (and the barcode incident in the grocery store), our current President seems equally out of touch as he claims that the economy is doing well. This angers people who are suffering the truth: that the rich are doing well and the rest of us aren't. And it's that anger, along with our discontent with the situation in Iraq and the Middle East, that is propelling voters this fall to vote for anyone but the incumbent.
- There's a disconnect in what we think is right and what we are offered as right. Health care is one such case in point. For the last 20 years or so, employers have slowly cut back benefits, passed on costs, limited coverage and generally made a mockery of employer-paid health insurance. Retirement plans are another case in point. More and more we're becoming convinced that we're on our own - without goverment or employer assistance.
- Cagey and cynical aides to the President and his father before him, have changed campaigns and political discourse into adversarial, rightious trials with only one winner: the faithful, and only one way: their way. Altruism and brotherhood are nowhere to be seen. Gray isn't negotiable because it's neither black nor white.
Millions of us wait around for the 247 Democrats in Congress to speak up and stand up. Brilliant articles are penned about exactly what Democrats should say, and how they should say it. Other editorials rightly rail on "spineless" Dems who shrink from confrontation.
But we must never forget, my friends, that we are also Democrats. And every time we let a wingnut email go unanswered, we are the spineless Dems. Everytime we hesitate to jump in when our family or friends complain about politics, we are the cowards.
We're the front lines of progressivism, a 50-state army composed of millions of articulate, informed, and fundamentally right soldiers of truth. We're armed with facts, that weapon that deals a deadly blow to any Republican propaganda. And yet, in the chambers of our daily lives, I think we don't use them enough.
For example, why is it that my inbox is cluttered with right-wing chain mail but rarely any liberal forwards? And why is it that upon reading yet another email about "staying the course", my tired self is tempted to just click "delete" instead of "reply all"?
Because it's easier to let it slide, of course. It's easier to ignore than instigate. Too often, we are so afraid of getting into political fights that we shy away from having political discussions. But if we don't defend liberalism and our party, who will?
So let us not shrink from educating the ill-informed, from converting the conned with logic, and from building a new Democrat majority, one voter at a time.