You've always got to remember that it takes less to bring down a Democratic government than a Republican one. In all the recrimination over how Gore didn't become president and the Democrats didn't carry the House and Senate, the inertial predisposition of the media, economic elites, and cultural leaders to favor the party of the supine, indolent, but propertied rich has been sinfully overlooked by the very people who are so predisposed.
"When good is defeated it is not because it was good, but because it was weak," Bertolt Brecht remarked in his 1932 essay on the five difficulties of telling the truth under conditions of oppression. So let's lose all notion of inevitability about our present sorry state. The ordinary folks of America didn't vote in sufficient numbers to overwhelm the institutional bias against them. Even as it was, Gore won more votes than any Democrat ever. Ran as well in the suburbs as Bill ever did. What killed him was (gasp) the white southern male vote. Shave a point off that and Gore would be president today, instead of merely the deprived victor.
This is not an argument that progressives should tailor their message to the redneck vote. Democrats do not need to act more like the Republicans to win, no matter what Al From and the Democratic Leadership Council proclaim. Democrats do not need to scare corporate America less. Democrats do not need to stuff the aspirations of their allies in order to soothe the hackles of their adversaries.
Take a lesson from the Republicans, boys and girls. You get kudos for principle if you stand up for your actual beliefs, instead of trying to compromise. Democrats believe in people rather than property, neighborhoods rather than real estate, unions rather than multinationals, genuine living children instead of the unborn, and actual economic justice rather than theoretical economic opportunity.
So don't put up with policies that merely preserve the status quo when they do not roll back the clock. A letter a month keeps your Congresscritter alert, you know. You might remind your senators and representative that "There is no peace and no rest in the development of material interests. They have their law, and their justice. But it is founded on expediency, and is inhuman; it is without rectitude, without the continuity and the force that can be found only in a moral principle. .. [T]he time approaches when all that [commercialism] stands for shall weigh as heavily upon the people as the barbarism, cruelty, and misrule of a few [generations] back." -- Joseph Conrad's Nostromo (1904).
How will we know when the Bush2 administration (a/k/a Ford2 administration) is officially as rightwing as Reagan1, Reagan2, and Bush1? Let's count the ways. Believes in the tax cut, the whole tax cut, and nothing but the tax cut as a substitute for actual public choices. Appoints a zany, feral vice-president. Appoints an absolutely professionally unfit attorney-general. Appoints a virulent anti-environmentalist to Interior. Appoints a caretaker to ride herd on EPA. Wants to waste even more money on lethal, destabilizing military gew-gaws. Plans to cripple, if not destroy, public education. Only wants cosmetic campaign finance reform. Does not want even cosmetic health insurance reform. Exalts Christian right policies on abortion (against) and the death penalty (for.) "Birth 'em, test 'em, then kill 'em," is how I believe they pronounce it in Texas.
Just as Bush1 was wholly insignificant except for delaying necessary economic reforms in the US, Bush2 seems committed to fighting rearguard actions thinly disguised as policy enhancements. The governmental use of religious institution charitable impulses is loudly proclaimed as progress, whereas it in fact retreats to French imperial policy of 1625. When Cardinal Richelieu (a mentor, or regent, for Louis XIII) would spend public money, he would ensure the church got its share. That the churches of America are mainly Protestant, founded in opposition to this kind of practice, is merely the kind of cheap irony the detection of which is unimaginable by Falwell, Robertson, and even the old men in dresses of my Catholic Cardinalate.
Our job as citizens-in-resistance is to laugh loudly every time these solemn bozos set themselves up for another pratfall, no matter how they spin the policy that leads to the fall. The self-importance of these jokers so far exceeds the earnestness of the early Clintonites that only a newsman or media talking head couldn't notice its pervasive and inescapable stench. I quote the words a Houston millionaire recently sent me, more in sorrow than in anger: "[Shrub's] mendacity and mean-mindedness [are] of no consequence. I can tell you from knowing Papa for many years and having been exposed to W quite enough to make a judgment, that the latter is even dumber than the former. But the one I especially loathe at the moment is James Baker. I had once considered him a statesman. He is now no more than a drunken old liar." I never for a moment mistook any Bush for a statesman, not even old Prescott. But it is nice to see that even their social acquaintances are already sick of them. The media won't be far behind.
A random sampling of Bush nicknames befouled this column some time ago (public duty, you know, up to my elbows in the filth of naming Snippy's true nature). I now see some public spirited soul has put up the top 100 names on the web (forgot the URL though). Their winner? Resident Bush. Simply dropping one letter confirms his real status: he's not all there, he's just there.
James McCarty Yeager is Washington correspondent for The Progressive Populist and can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.