Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Manifesto time

Okay, I've had about two weeks to think this over, to let the anger subside. But let's face it- the GOP blogosphere is having a little party right now and harping about how they are not only in the majority but feel that they have been vindicated in their bigotry, small-mindedness and lack of foresight. I feel that it is now time to do a little clearing of the air, a little rebuttal, if you will. Since the simplest among us enjoy lists, I will present it as such.

1. Myth No. 1: Liberals are out of the mainstream.
What mainstream? The mainstream is imaginary, especially in America. If you are one of those who think the mainstream is white, Christian, married, conservative and balks at the widespread popularity of "Will and Grace," you may be correct about the mainstream in your suburb, but visit Detroit or New York or hell, even Longmont and you will find many many people who exist well outside that narrow definition of the "mainstream." 79% of America lives in cities with a population of more than 750 thousand. Despite what these people would like us to believe, the American Gothic contingent is not predominant.

People love to talk about this imaginary majority. They love to say that "mainstream" America doesn't want gays to be married. They like to say that "mainstream" America enjoys watching NASCAR, shopping at WalMart, reading People Magazine, and refuses to pay attention to global events. If you listen to the Right, "mainstream" America is a contemptible, bigoted little prick. And I happen to know that most Americans are simply not that way.

And what's worse, if you use the "liberals are outside the mainstream" argument to discount the ideas liberals have, you are effectively saying that anyone outside of this narrow definition of "normal" America simply doesn't count. What, I ask, is wrong with being outside of this imaginary "mainstream?"

2. Myth No. 2: We lost because we don't have the numbers and we are failing as a party.
We lost because of many reasons, but not because we are failing as a party. One of many reasons is probably voter fraud, but I'm not going to depend on that as an explanation. The main reason was because of fear. Because people (even smart people) do stupid things when they are scared. You know how that girl always runs upstairs in horror flicks? Well, think of re-electing Bush as the political equivalent of running upstairs when you are chased by an axe murderer. It doesn't make sense, but she was scared.

As far as numbers go, we came damn close. Turnout was at an all-time high and we managed to eke out a near-victory for a war-protesting, French-looking Massachussetts liberal democrat whose record was iffy and whose platform was wobbly. Nearly half of America was willing to vote for a candidate as described above, during wartime.

It's not that we don't have the numbers. And it is certainly not that we are dying off- we are making the comeback of the century. We nearly beat a president who once basked in a nearly 90 per cent approval rating back during 9/11. I have to believe next time will be different. It's going to be a rocky 2006.

3. Myth No. 3: Liberals hate America and would rather have kept Saddam in power.
This is the lowest of the low. The people that say this are effectively channeling their inner six year old: "Ms. Hoover! Liberals are saying they hate America and like Saddam Hussein and they like to eat dog poopy!"

Liberals do not hate America. Most of us are trying very hard right now not to hate anybody, because that's the easy way out. Hate is more of a, oh, how to put it, Red State value. We like it here, and most of us, for all of those who are bandying the word "expatriate" about, intend to stay here. Because America is not just for those who enjoy its loose gun laws and gigantic churches. It is also mountains, streams, canyons, cities, cultural plurality, innovation, arts and (at least for now) freedom to join or refuse to join any established religion you care to. There are plenty of other freedoms we know and love and aren't stupid enough to abandon. We know it's the best place to live but- here's the kicker- we also know it can be better. The more we innovate and improve, the better things can be for everyone.

As per the Saddam thing- this is just a bad syllogism. To hate a war does not equal loving a warlord. Lest we forget- in 1999 conservatives were arguing that military intervention in Yugoslavia was a terrible idea but we don't go around saying that Republicans all love and sympathize with Milosevic (remember McCain saying that the U.S. would "lose credibility" in the eyes of the world if we launched airstrikes in Yugoslavia? Republicans caring about global credibility. Those were the days). Yes, the world is a better place without Milosevic. And Saddam (although I think he's still nominally in the world).

But it would be way better without U.S. troops in Iraq now. And way better if we hadn't basically given our allies the finger. And way better if Iraq wasn't being rebuilt by Halliburton. In short, the world would be a better place if Bush had listened to Colin Powell. But alas, we don't live in that world. It is pointless to argue to some the subtleties of this, but to those who say liberals are Sadaam sympathizers, you might retaliate and say, well, would the world be a better place with Slobodan Milosevic in power? It's back to that whole six-year old mentality, but apparently that works.

Myth No. 4: Liberals don't have values.
Well, if you call gay-bashing and encouragement of sexual ignorance values, I don't want any values. We do have values. We value life- that's why we oppose capital punishment and militarism. We value love- which is why we believe that people should benefit from our nation's freedoms if they love one another, regardless of who they love. We value children- which is why we want each one to be wanted and want our children to informed on how to protect themselves from disease and unintended pregnancy. We value education and freedom of faith and we value the world's resources. We value women and minorities and the differences between us all.

Next time some idiot tells me they voted for "moral values," I may remind them that Fox Network, the sleaziest, cheesiest orifice of public entertainment, is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who celebrated each day prior to the last election day with a countdown to Bush's reelection. I may remind them of the "values" Guiliani holds dear. Or about the values of human dignity so clearly displayed at Abu Ghraib.

Bottom line- I'm done crying in my beer and now I have to say it's time for action. I love my country, which is why I'll be damned if it's going to be Wal-Marted, Jerry Fallwelled and Rumsfelded out of existence.

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