Like Kos, I still have the late Steve Gilliard's blog link on my bookmarks, and today, as I have been basking in the wonder of it all, I think back to Steve's fiery, erudite and inspiring posts both before and after the election of 2004.
Like with my Dad, who died a year ago, I wish that Steve were here to share in this wondrous and world-changing triumph, not just for racial equality and justice, but for reason over ignorance, calmness over hysteria, scholarship over know-nothingism and compassion over malignant hate and fear.
In the anxious, frustrating and ultimately dark days of 2004, Steve was a beacon of optimism, courage and righteous anger. The Truth wrote earlier about his memories of Steve in light of Barack's triumph, but I wanted to add my two cents.
Here is what Steve had to say on November 15, 2004, in the gloomy days after Kerry lost, to those who were whining about leaving the country:
Nothing in life is easy. Changing the Democratic Party will take more than one or two elections. If you don't have the stomach for the fight, say so and go about your business. Stop with the whining and excuses and be about your way.
I started reading Steve when he was one of the commenters here in the Cro-Magnon 2002-2003 days of Daily Kos. Steve, along with Steve Soto and the recently resurfaced Billmon, were the first "promotions" to the front page. Each of them had distinct strengths -- in Steve's case, passion combined with an encyclopedic knowledge base that ranged from colonial wars (culminating in a thirty-seven part series) to the ugliness of so much about Rudy Giuliani.
But what I remember most is Steve's refusal to give into fear or despair before and after the 2004 election. On October 31, 2004, he wrote in response to those who were giving up on Kerry:
It's not over, so curling up into a ball is silly. You can still do something to prevent what you fear. Volunteer for ACT or Kerry or the DNC. Do something besides worry and you'll at least know you did your part to prevent Bush from winning. Just printing up and handing our Move On Voter Protection Cards on your own may help people. Take $10, go to Staples, and run some off. Then just hand them out near a couple of polling places. You are not powerless and this is NOT over.
If you do nothing, you help Bush win. And your fears may well come true. But if you act, what you want may well happen.
Steve's optimism did not pan out, but so what -- his fire kept me going to phone bank and do all I could in October 2004.
And Steve most certainly did not "curl up into a ball" after Kerry lost either. He railed against those who would leave the country because Bush had another four years:
I'm sick at the protestations of rank cowardice from some people on the left. Oh, I'm going to go to Canada, I'm going to Europe, I'm going to join the Greens.
Oh, fuck all of you, you gutless fucks. You're all fucking cowards and we would be well to be rid of you. Go sit in some London pub or Amsterdam brown bar or Swedish sauna and whine to your European friends who will snicker behind your backs at your gutlessness. You're moral cowards, and about to be physical cowards as well. Go live out your exile fantasies and be done with it. Enough of your mewling. Start combing the British or Canadian version of Craig's List, have your apartment sales and go. Just fucking go and be done with it. Send a post card or an e-mail to let us know how you're getting along.
But for God's sake, stop trying to justify the yellow stripe down your back. Your convictions are as deep as a face peel. I don't care about your excuses, they're excuses, and you can stop making them. We know you're cowards unable to do anything but whine and moan about how America sucks. So go on, leave. Go hide from evil Bush and take the easy way out. See ya, and don't let the door hit you on the ass.
. . .
Nothing in life is easy. Changing the Democratic Party will take more than one or two elections. If you don't have the stomach for the fight, say so and go about your business. Stop with the whining and excuses and be about your way. As Shakespeare put it:
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us
Simply put, if you don't want to fight, here and now, be gone with you and be quick about it. All of us staying to fight have no more time to deal with you.
It takes a special gift to make a smooth transition from "fuck all of you, you gutless fucks" to Shakespeare -- That was just one of the things that made Steve great.
But Steve reserved special venom for a few select targets. A certain non-Queens based New York baseball team ("Fuck the Fucking Yankees"), and a certain ex-mayor fan of said team:
Over the next year, [the Giulianis] fought like pit bulls over control of Gracie Mansion. Giuliani reduced his wife's security, fired her press aide. She banned Nathan from the parts of Gracie Mansion. For the next year, they fought over control of the building like the Red Guards and German 6th Army fought over the Tractor Works in Stalingrad. No advantage was too slight to gain. Giuliani's lawyer, showboat Raoul Felder, once called Hanover a greedy pig after a contentious court session.
Finally, in the spring of 2002, all the cards were on the table. Hanover's lawyers were ready to call a bunch of witnesses to ask about his sex life and affairs. He suddenly found $8m to give her, made off the backs of the dead and wounded after 9/11.
I can only imagine Steve's joy at Rudy's ignominious fall from "front-runner" to "a noun, a verb and 9-11" as he zoomed to the bottom of the undistinguished GOP candidates in 2008.
Steve, I am lifting a glass of champagne to you and your spirit, which lives on in the fire in the bellies of a couple of hundred thousand people here at Kos.