March 7, 2001
by Bradford Shaw
With four years of a Republican administration to look forward
to, some people wonder: can we sustain our anger and energy
as a strong, invigorated Democratic party? To find the answer
to this question, we must examine why we are energized and
whether these reasons will sustain us throughout the next
four years of conservative hell.
The first thing to mention is the feeling that over half of the voting
public has in the pit of its collective stomach. It is a feeling of frustration
and helplessness. Frustration that the election was rigged for the opposition;
frustration that the constitution was violated and votes never counted;
frustration that the republicans argued in opposite directions in regard
to states rights, prostituting a core conservative belief held by most
republicans in order to acquire the Whitehouse; and frustration that their
own voters couldn't understand the ballot, or get into the polls to vote
in a state controlled by conservative bigotry.
As to the helplessness issue, we as Americans, watched in horror on election
night as Shrub scrambled on the phone to assure the fix for his Florida
victory. He openly admitted on camera during a brief photo-op that he
was making phone calls to various Florida officials to "check into
the matter". Well, he checked into the matter, and now he's the President-select.
Most of the people that I know felt frustrated and out of the loop, watching
Shrubs minions go about the busy work of obstructing the vote counting
process, and guaranteeing his victory. After the election when the vote
counting and arguing began, our feelings of helplessness and frustration
escalated with the constant sound-bite bombardment in the media from James
He would appear at a news conference after news conference to announce
that the Republicans had won the election, and that a "W" presidency
was inevitable. He would then make a statement about how the Democrats
were obstructionists, and that they wanted to delay the process, while
making concurrent announcements of George W's lawsuits. But Baker insisted
that it was the Democrats that were "lawyer happy", not the
Republicans. As I remember, on the highest level, it was Bush vs. Gore
at the Supreme Court, not the other way around.
We, the majority of the popular voters, felt helpless and ineffective
as the judicial process moved forward. Some small victories held out the
promise of a fair examination of votes, but most informed Americans like
myself knew where the buck was going to stop. I knew that the conservative
majority in the Supreme, or if you prefer, Extreme Court would save their
candidates bacon. Save it they did, but doing so they exposed themselves
as political whores to their conservative dogma. States rights be damned,
if it gets in the way of a Republican victory.
The only light hearted moment that I could find during the Florida mess
was the Dockers protest conducted by conservative idiots trying to disrupt
the counting process. These country club dimwits looked pretty darned
silly pounding on the elections office door, unable to keep a straight
face at their own actions. It seemed that they knew just how ridiculous
they looked, and they were unable to choke back the smirking laughter
that was heard amongst the shouts of "let us in, let us in!"
Some even tried to juggle participating in the protest and taking cell
phone calls, cradling the phone to one ear while waving a pasty, white,
under-exercised fist in the air.
Anyone who has been in or witnessed a real protest would feel frustration
unbounded at the lack of an issue involved. Had anyone's civil rights
been violated? Had anyone been incarcerated unjustly? Was the security
of the nation jeopardized? The answer is obvious. The only thing in jeopardy
was Shrub's election hopes.
So as you can see there is plenty of frustration and helplessness to
go around. In addition to feeling frustration and helplessness that the
election was stolen, we feel as if we were transported back to a previous
time in history. A sort of de-evolution as it were. In the year 2001,
we are expected to put in place systems and administrations from twelve
Speaking to a local Democratic activist, his biggest frustration was
the anticipation of the reversal of all of the good progressive work done
over the last eight years, and sure enough just a few weeks into his residency,
Shrub has announced the review of all presidential orders and agreements.
He has been quite smug in his assertion that presidential orders and agreements
can be rescinded with the stroke of a pen.
In addition, it appears that we may be getting ready to finish the Gulf
War for George the First. It's as if Shrub feels that he has to finish
his father's noble work. He has the same ideas, the same staccato delivery
of his message, and the same staff, although in different offices. We
have presidential re-runs to deal with in terms of policy and budget.
The theft of the election, the smugness of Shrub and his crew, the return
to the failed policies of his father, and the call by the GOP to "get
over it!" are excellent reasons to get riled up.
My only fear is what I would call the "Conservative-tune-out Syndrome".
This is the process that all good Democrats go through every time Shrub
or the Congressional republicans begin to propose legislation or policy.
We attempt to listen intently, but the amount of spin required to masquerade
all of the conservative greed and hypocrisy spewed forth from these individuals
often is too much to take, and we tune out. Tuning out is comforting and
safe in that we don't have to think about the embarrassment that we are
all feeling as a supposedly intelligent society.
This is normal, I assure you. When you think back, we all felt bad in
1988 when the first Bush bozo was elected. In those days, it was only
slightly embarrassing to think of our president on the world stage, even
if he did vomit on the leader of our biggest economic competitor. At least
he could speak publicly without too much trouble, unlike his first-born.
The shame that we will feel as Americans for being stuck with this "G.E.D."
president is just beginning. Wait until he says something truly stupid
during an international conference, and then watch as our intellectual
status shrinks before our very eyes.
Just keep in mind that we Democrats started to have a real foothold against
the first Bush when he demonstrated his lack of touch with the common
man regarding shopping scanners and the price of milk. This fact demonstrates
the importance of knowing your enemy. By watching Shrub in every public
appearance, however uncomfortable it makes us feel on a personal level,
we will be able to expose his stupidities in the true light of day. If
pride in the intelligence of your president and his choices are important
to you, maintain your rage.
The Texas Talk Tripper and his buddies are sure to make most Democrats
feel out of touch during his residency. He will trot out the tired, old
cliché that "Republicans and conservatives are better Americans because
they are for God and Country. Liberals are for government spending and
bloated programs that don't work."
He and his minions of talking head politico's will assail the public
with a real anti-liberal, anti-choice, anti-progressive policy line that
will attempt to paint the Democrats as big spenders or un-American or
out of touch with the mainstream. Democrats live in the real world, not
a country club world like Republicans. We live with and have to deal with
real crime and its associated issues, not corporate crime or even worse,
corporate welfare. If pride in your party and pride in how you think and
what you believe in are important to you, maintain your rage.
Democrats have always been stewards of the environment. We have championed
the causes of environmental protection and resource management. Over the
last eight years, our administration fought to preserve many endangered
lands and species. With the appointment of Gale Norton as head of the
Department of Interior, and Christie Whitman as head of the EPA by Shrub,
we know where he stands as it relates to our environmental future.
It may be argued that Ms. Whitman has had a lot of experience with toxic
waste and its related clean up, but Ms. Norton's opposition to the endangered
species list is appalling to say the least. In her short tenure as Secretary,
she has already indicated a desire to re-evaluate mining access next to
and perhaps extending onto protected lands.
These choices aren't as outwardly silly as, say Dan Quayle as a running
mate, but they may prove to be far more damaging in the long run. If having
an unspoiled, unpolluted planet for your children to grow up on is in
any way important to you, maintain your rage!
Rage maintenance is energy consuming and tedious at times, but highly
necessary for all Democrats. We are, as a party, generally more tolerant,
forgiving, accepting and generous, but this cannot extend into our relationship
with "His Fraudulency". We must stay strong and focused, like
our opposition did during President Clinton's tenure in the Whitehouse.
We must remain ever vigilant and watchful, as well as fired up and full
If not, we may be doomed to an additional Shrub term, and that thought
alone should be reason enough to spur us on to keep up the