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Reality Check 5
November 16, 2002
Michael Shannon

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 belief.

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

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