March 3, 2006
By Joseph Hughes
With so much wrong with the state of American affairs, it's easy
to lose your optimism. The Bush administration has been responsible
for so much failure, corruption and division that unhealthy levels
of pessimism are practically unavoidable.
A quick glance at what has happened under President Bush - Iraq,
Hurricane Katrina, spying on Americans, a more right-wing Supreme
Court, putting politics and business above national security - reveals
myriad reasons to lose hope, to despair for the future. But, if
you think about it, there are as many - if not more - reasons to
be hopeful for what's to come.
That hope, that optimism, is what I think draws people to the
Democratic Party. And it's that optimism that can and will help
shape a better future.
Perhaps the most common misinterpretation Republicans make is
that we Democrats are nothing more than a frothing, angry bunch
with little more guiding us than a seething hatred for their party
and their president. This, of course, is the frame by which they
attempt to marginalize liberals and dismiss us as emotionally unstable.
And this, of course, couldn't be further from the truth.
If anything, the anger they perceive from Democrats is nothing
more than our frustration at seeing how they've so hurt our once-great
nation. Democrats know what wonderful, important contributions Americans
can make if properly motivated. We're just ready for hope - not
fear - to be our guiding principle. For "What if? - not "What happened?"
- to be our next national question.
Think of what great things this country could have done following
September 11 if only our president asked us. He could have helped
end the very addiction to oil he still bemoans and still perpetuates.
He could have asked scientists to find a new way. He could have
asked Americans to conserve, to use alternative fuels, to be a part
of the solution. But he didn't. Instead, he capitalized on a tragedy
to pursue goals that have left America worse than when he took office.
Imagine the impact we could have made following Hurricane Katrina
if only our president led instead of abandoned? We could have had
a much-needed dialogue about the state of race and class in our
society. We could have lifted the Gulf Coast from the ruins and
improved the lives of the victims as well. We could have left survivors
a home not only better than before, but also the envy of the world.
But we didn't. Instead, we watched as this administration left millions
of Americans behind, dragged its feet and sold the region to its
Picture the strides this president could have taken in America
if only he weren't involved in a costly war in Iraq. He could have
lifted millions of Americans out of poverty. He could have put millions
more to work. He could have put the considerable amount we've spent
and are spending on this war to better use at home, where it's needed
most. But he didn't. Instead, he's wasted countless resources and
far too many lives in a struggle that will no doubt soon evolve
into a violent civil war.
It doesn't have to be like this. While the deck may appear to
be stacked against us, the opposite is often the case. We have the
power to make our ideas a reality. Look at the numerous examples
of the Democratic agenda being put into practice across America
at the state and local levels. There, you'll see optimistic individuals
working to achieve ambitious goals. There, governing and helping
people aren't mutually exclusive ideas.
Optimism helped America during its infancy. Optimism helped form
the system of government we still use today. Optimism helped fight
slavery. Optimism helped give women and African Americans the right
to vote. Optimism helped bring about the New Deal. Optimism helped
fight institutionalized racism. Optimism helped lift up the poor,
the sick, the elderly. Optimism built this country. And optimism
will save it.
One thing I am not optimistic about, however, is the Republican
Party's ability to solve our problems.
Joseph Hughes is a graphic designer and writer by day and a
liberal blogger by night. Read stories like this and many more at
his blog, Hughes