November 16, 2002
You would have to write a column an hour to even come close
to keeping up with the flow of a day in the life of America.
There is so much going on, being performed by a cast of characters
who defy the creative process, with such enormous consequences
for an incalculable number of people and all at a pace that
seems to increase weekly that to attempt to chronicle it all
is beyond anyone or anything's capacity. Still, people like
me can't help ourselves. Unfortunately, the more we try the
more we only seem to succeed in complicating the equation.
Complexity has the annoying predilection to breed complexity.
With that in mind, in my fifth installment of the Reality
Check (see the DU Archives for the previous four) will attempt
to make sense of the whole crazy mess. If there is an underlying
theme to these thoughts it is one of acceptance. Not acceptance
of the novus ordo -- heaven forbid -- but rather its existence
and the consequences to our not resisting it at every turn.
It's Not That Bad -- You can massage almost any set
of figures to mean almost anything but in the end result remains
the same. There cannot be more than one real bottom line,
no matter how creative the accounting. The numbers either
add up in your favor or they don't. That only a sliver of
total votes cast the opposite way would have completely altered
the outcome of this past election and thereby changed the
course of American history in the process is totally irrelevant.
All that counts is that the progressive/liberal movement lost
to the reactionary/conservative camp. Period.
That the margin of defeat was far from overwhelming is encouraging
only for the chances the next time around -- being down 3/4
points is a whole lot better than having to make up fifteen
or twenty. The opportunity to benefit from that ratio however
will not actually present itself until two years from now.
The reality right here--right now is that we have a problem.
A big problem,
I am a very much afraid that if the people in whose hands
now lies the power of the state -- the most powerful state
ever imagined -- are left to their own devices that they will
create an America that I will not be proud of. An America
that will be lesser for them.
That being said, to consider the process of participatory
democracy ends with an election is always foolish and in this
case, dangerous. It is vital that the voice of opposition
must never be quieted.
This Too Shall Pass -- This is far from the first
time this country has been in a tight spot. Nor is it the
first time we had less than the ideal man at the wheel. Fortunately,
we have not only survived worse we have prevailed over whatever
the challenge placed in our path. We as a people and America
as a concept have proven themselves to be most resilient.
Give Him Enough Rope -- You can credibly make a case
that putting all the cards in George W's and the Republican
party's hands will lead to a sensory overload and ultimate
system failure. That actually being forced to produce tangible/creative
policies and procedures to the daunting challenges of the
day will prove to be entirely too much for our fearless leader
and the poor bastard will have a gradual but very public and
very painful to watch meltdown. As personally satisfying as
that eventuality may be there is an a priori negative aspect
to this line of thought. Like him or not he is the President.
And as such he, while not omnipotent, plays an non-quantitatively
important role in the flow of events. If he fails we all lose.
The Definition of Is -- It makes no difference whether
you whisper a falsehood or shout it at the top of your lungs.
Nor does it matter whether you say it once or repeat it a
thousand time. If it was false the first time it will be false
the 1,000th time as well; no matter the volume. Be that as
it may, if enough people believe it, it don't matter.
I honestly have the foggiest idea how Andrew Sullivan can,
with a straight face, write of George Bush's "extraordinary
gifts." And I am even more dumbstruck that people swallow
that tripe. But they do and that's all that matters.
It is never more obvious than in the political sense that
reality is your perception of it. The cause and effect of
it can be debated from now until kingdom come but that doesn't
alter the fact that a majority of people have come to perceive
George Bush to be a wise and courageous man. That he is neither
is unimportant. All that is important is how we, the loyal
opposition, mount a an effective counter position to that
It is a statement of the obvious to note that in order for
the progressive/liberal movement to re-establish itself as
a factor in the running of America it's adherents must convince/persuade
more people that it's method of addressing the problems of
the day are better. Better for them and better for the majority
of their friends, loved ones and fellow citizens. To best
accomplish such a task it is recommend to have a clearly defined
message and an appealing messenger to deliver it.
The message is easy; as long as there are children in need,
a peace to be preserved, freedoms to be safeguarded, economic
conditions to be enhanced, potentials to be fulfilled there
will be a place for PL thought. Finding someone with the wit
and wisdom to articulate that view and the strength of conviction
to fight for it to become a reality is far more difficult.
I sure do hope we find one soon. Because as I mentioned earlier
yes, we have prevailed over worse. And it is true. The Republic
did survive Nixon but the 30,000 Americans and 100,000 Vietnamese
who died in the first 4 years of his reign did not. This is
not an academic exercise. This is life and death. If you would
permit me to personalize it; our government makes one mistake
too many and one if not all of my sons has to go to war.
You may contact Michael Shannon at firstname.lastname@example.org.