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A Fine Line To Walk
October 11, 2003
By Mark W. Brown

I have two pieces of information to impart to you. I assure you that you cannot live without either of them.

One: Bush is going to be destroyed in 2004, swept up in a tide of discontent that is spurred on by several revelations that reach the American public. Included in this list, the truth of the 2000 election finally coming out; the truth about Bush's AWOL past; the truth about Bush's cokehead past; the truth of what happened on the pretzel night; the truth about the World Trade Center attacks; the truth about every lie, obfuscation, misrepresentation and half-truth told by anyone in the Bush administration; last, and most importantly, that in the basement of the White House every night Bush sacrifices kittens to his vile master, Smirktor, the patron saint of the smarmy.

Two: Bush is going to be re-elected in a landslide in 2004, buoyed by more of the phony patriotism that got him 90% approval ratings in the first place. This landslide will be aided by several things, including, friends in the TV media, and many of those so-called journalists; friends in the radio media; friends in the American print media; another convenient terrorist attack on US soil that occurs shortly before the election; the Democratic nominee meeting an untimely demise in a plane/train/bus crash; election machines that change every vote for the Democratic nominee to be a vote for Mickey Mouse; the Green Party; last, and most importantly, every Republican governor in the Union calling up the National Guard to intimidate voters into voting Republican on Election Day.

We are simultaneously guaranteed success and failure in the 2004 election cycle, as you have seen demonstrated here. This is obviously the case, if one is to watch as many people discuss the upcoming election, and one of these two viewpoints is often what surfaces and receives wide agreement.

These two opinions are opposite sides of the same coin. On one face, a towering bastion of unbridled optimism, and on the reverse, a stalwart fortress of unchecked despair.

Given these interesting times that we live in, it seems easy enough to fall into the trap of either of these. Easy enough that it is not worth faulting the people who happen to think either one of them. But the ideas themselves are poked with more holes than the typical conservative argument. Both are, quite simply, disconnected from reality. Fortunately, on this coin, there is space to walk between the opposite sides. The line between optimism and despair is a fine line to walk, no doubt, but if we are going to succeed in removing Bush in 2004 we must succumb to neither malady.

The main fault I find with those who think that we are virtually assured victory, and those who think that we are virtually assured defeat, is this: They presume the outcome before the battle has begun. And in this way, the optimistic prophecy defeats itself, and the pessimistic one fulfills itself.

Neither is encouraging the kind of fight that must be waged to beat Bush next year. The good fight that we and those like us must fight next year is one that has to begin the moment we know who will be the winner of the Democratic nomination, and it can only end when the last poll closes and the last vote has been cast, when it falls out of the hands of ordinary people like you and I. It is must be fought across all fifty states, in the most Democratic-leaning states and the most Republican-leaning ones, across the airwaves, the fiber-optic cables, the newspapers. It must be fought district to district, street to street, door to door. It must be fought with every ounce of passion and reason that we can muster, because if we are going to win the masses we must be both persuasive yet sane.

We must distinguish ourselves from Republicans, yet we also must be more than simply not-Republicans, as we undertake the daunting task of convincing people that Democrat is the way to vote. We must keep our message focused and our mantra simple. Allowing our message to become diluted will be a potential cardinal sin, one that could cost us our shot at seeing Bush beaten in the election. The challenge of how to balance quick soundbites that are also unassailable soundbites is going to be a difficult one, but it is what we need to do. This, like the rest of the campaign, will turn out to be an uphill battle, since it is without doubt that Bush has some powerful friends to watch his back in some, if not all, areas of the media.

It is imperative that our eventual nominee be one who can capture the attention of the electorate, and hold it. Without someone who can excite those who may not often vote, or often vote for superficial reasons, we have no hope of challenging the status quo. And whether or not we like to admit it, right now the status quo exists with Republicans in charge, wrecking the country on so many levels.

If everything seems to go our way between now and Election Day, we cannot allow ourselves to grow complacent. And nothing goes right, we cannot allow ourselves to concede defeat and give up the fight until the fight is gone from us.

Hope springs eternal, and it is hope which can spur us from this despair. As long as we keep that hope, it will keep us from making dangerous assumptions. And that hope is something we can keep as long as there is even one Democrat anywhere who is speaking out against the Bush administration.

And so help me, if nothing else that one Democrat will be me, walking that fine line between optimism and despair, moving slowly but surely towards victory. One thing I'm hoping for is more people to walk on this path with me.

 
Mark W. Brown can be reached at mbrown3@umbc.edu.

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