We stand today on pins and needles, on the brink either of elation or of crushing defeat.
Those of us who must be at our jobs are furtively looking for every piece of inside election news we can find. Those of us who can be working for Democratic candidates and causes are doing just that, phonebanking or better yet putting out door signs and dragging folks to the polls, and checking the blogs when we can in our spare time. Those of us who aren't working but are sitting here on the computer instead of calling for our candidates...well...I have a website for you. Get on it and do what they tell you. The servers are overloaded, and the tech people are desperately trying to keep up with the election day crush. Everyone is looking for news and waiting to see the culmination of all our work this election season.
But as long as you're here, if I may, I'd like to ask you an important question:
Will You Still Be Here Tomorrow?
Because this election--regardless how it turns out--is not an end, but merely a beginning. Far too many of us are loyal contributors to the cause during the election season, but disappear back into our "normal" lives after November. The traffic numbers on all the political blogs follow the familiar pattern of massive spikes during election years, followed by dead zones during the odd years.
Let's change that. Because our mission here is not to elect a Candidate for Change, but to be a Movement for Change.
If the polls are correct and Barack Obama wins the presidency with major gains in the House and Senate, our Democratic leaders will need us to be the winds at their backs. Already the news media and idiotic consultants like Doug Schoen are pushing the meme that American really is a center-right nation (it isn't and never was), and that Obama better not actually push progressive policies lest we see a right-wing backlash. The same Democrats that caved on FISA and so many other issues during the Bush Presidency won't have suddenly lost their over-cautious instincts and developed spines. They will still need us to be there pushing them. To be there holding them accountable. Winning elections as an insurgent party working with an angry electorate is easy. Governing a nearly ungovernable country left in a state of utter disrepair by your political predecessors is hard. Will you be there for the hard work tomorrow?
And if by some small chance John McCain does win the presidency by dint of luck or worse, it will be mean a battle royale and test of wills: will Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi roll John McCain and reign in Sarah Palin, or vice versa? The last four years have not given us much hope of the former. It will be up to us to give them the push in the back they will need to keep their eyes on the present and on stopping McCain, rather than simply attempting to make the White House look bad in anticipation of 2012.
In either event, our efforts will be needed far more tomorrow than they were today. Political campaigns, by their very nature, have field marshals and generals and an organized, disciplined structure. But after the campaign, the armies largely disband; the business of Governance begins, and situations that had once been crystal clear often become opaque--especially in waters muddied by the corporate cash given to Democrats by donors looking solely for access and favors.
If we are not as active tomorrow as we are today, then we will have proved the wingers right: we are a Cult of Obama, looking to elect the government we want, and then waiting for it to solve all of our problems. The key to proving the Right to be Wrong is not to win the election, but to prove that their entire conception of our ideology is wrong: we are not a cult of big government that disappears after a successful election, but a long-term, people-powered, progressive movement for change.
Are you a part of that movement? Will you be just as interested in February as you are today? I know I will be. Will you still be here tomorrow?