It strikes me odd how much better, how much more hopeful, I feel right now than I did even three days ago. I wonder why... Oh. Yea. That might do it.
See, for thirty years, I've felt like an outcast in my own nation. A liberal. A stranger in a strange land and I couldn't grok society. I'd rail as the antithesis of culture, of the political spectrum. I felt a little like Cassandra, destined to have foresight yet doomed to be taken quite unseriously until events had passed that showed I was right.
Such was the power of the right wing hate machine that even I, a liberal even in this most blue of cities, felt a frisson of that hate.
Oh, there were moments, of course, like when Bill "Greatest. President. Ever." Clinton was elected twice. That comforted me, made me feel like part of the universe again.
Until the right wing hate machine, presented by Rupert Murdoch and funded by Richard Mellon "Family Values Cost $750,000 A Month" Scaife decided he was too much a threat to the good of the nation, and started dismantling him, brick by brick.
The year 2000 held hope, as my real hero, the man I voted for twice in primaries, Al Gore succeeded in capturing the nomination. It looked, to coin a phrase, like a slam-dunk, until Karl Rove got his precious little mitts on the election, and managed to squeeze a faux cowboy into the flight suit he had abandoned 25 years earlier.
Now there's a diet I probably should try, altho being around Karl Rove seven days a week probably would make me quit eating and start drinking more, so who knows?
After four years, I figured we had the bastard: approval ratings in the 40% range, half the country truly hating the man, an abortion of a war, an economy that took three years to jump start from the most mild of recessions in 2000 and 2001, and a man who failed to protect us from a terrorist attack, not because he was caught by surprise, but because he really just didn't give a damn about some feller named "Al Kaydah."
And then the Democrats, rather than choosing the most obvious candidate, a former general with bona fides out the wazoo in Muslim-West relations in Wesley Clark, or even the most antipodal candidate to Bush's elitism and out-of-touchness, a man who worked with the poor and could speak earnestly about the plight of the children left behind in John Edwards, picked a former war hero who had for thirty years ducked the charges smearing him from a nutcase former soldier who probably never even fired a gun, much less saved his men on a Swift Boat.
All this, again, funded and encouraged by the Wonder Twerps of Truthiness, Murdoch and Scaife.
That was a bitter defeat, to be sure. Even as horrid a candidate as John Kerry battled this machine down to the last minute, and almost, ALMOST, pulled it out. It shouldn't have been close enough that voting discrepancies in Ohio made a difference, just as 2000 should not have been close enough to let Florida's egregious backwoods voting systems and antiquated laws decide that election.
It should have Dems in a walk in both years.
A side note: Recent history gives us coalescing images of moments in time. Photography and videography have given us totems of events that sum up and define not only the historical significance of the instant, but the context and emotional content. Think of the Kennedy assassination, and the photo of Caroline and John-John with Jackie on the cortege route, or the flag at Iwo Jima, or this one from 9/11. My suspicion is that history's pictorial judgement of the elections of 2000 will be this photo:
So we are left at the end of the 2004 election, defeated, dispirited, but not dormant. The anger that welled up inside progressives and liberals nationwide, and spread worldwide by the old saw "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...can't get fooled again". Other nations woke up and realized that Bush was not going away easily, and decided to leverage their political strength against him. We here on the left took comfort in that, that the rest of the world would shun, as best as they could, this poseur President.
As time passed, and our anger solidified into action, the 2006 election loomed as a pivotal point in American history. It would set the stage for a revolution unlike any we had known previously, even our own Civil War, even our own birth, because this one would forge a future for our country without bloodshed. This one could unite a nation in the pursuit of true American values, of fair play and equal opportunity. It would prove the adage that, yes, ANYONE could be President.
It sure didn't hurt any that the Republicans had shot themselves in the collective face (in Dick Cheney's case, quite literally) by accomplishing nothing in over ten years of Congressional control. The politics of division revealed themselves to be the politics of do-nothingism, and America wondered why we even have a Congress.
It also didn't hurt that, hand in hand with this, and likely this bit was orchestrated by some on the left, the hypocrisies of the "family values" party were slowly uncovered, like a good stripping. The GOP missed the lessons of the early 90s Democrats: never EVER let yourself be caught on tape or in a sex scandal. By Nov. 8, 2006, it was almost safe to be a liberal.
But there was still Dum-Dum to deal with. Were Pelosi and Reid correct not to pursue criminal charges against Bush? History will judge, but in my opinion, yes. Two years of haggling over documents would have frozen the nation worse than it already was, and would have made the bailouts and other economic stimuli passed and that still need to be passed, impossible. For the greater good, we let the guilty get off.
This is how our nation has always operated. This is how it must operate now. If you want to file cases in the Hague against the Bushies, I'll do what I can to see them brought to justice, but not here. Not now.
And now, we have a President who reflects in his very being the country: cool under pressure, able to laugh at himself, and diverse.
In other words, a liberal. He may, from practicality sake, be forced to dumb down his progressive credentials. I'm OK with that. He's not the Liberal President. He is President of the United States and that means respecting the thoughts and feelings of people in Nebraska as much as New Jersey.
I'm OK with that. It guarantees him an eight year term, and I kinda like "That One".