This has been percolating in my brain for a little while now. I received an e-mail from barackobama.com about the 50 million dollars they needed to raise for their Get Out The Vote effort this fall, and my brain twisted rather uncomfortably thinking about it - I've since been trying to find the words to why. Today, while reading deaniac83's diary about Glen Greenwald, this all started coming to the surface. If you haven't read that diary, I'd encourage anyone to do so, mostly because it so singularly defines what I find so, so... let's call it 'off-putting' in the modern discourse of the democratic party. Not the opinions it expresses (which I'm all for expressing, especially when I disagree), but rather the parts calling someone else to task for daring to express theirs.
I have this problem, you see; I'm a liberal.
I am a proud, bleeding heart, freedom loving liberal. I believe prisons should focus first on rehabilitation, in taxes scaled on ability to pay, that feeding children is more important than corporate profits. I believe in maximum freedom for all people at all times, that if no one is harmed it's okay by default. I believe globalization must serve all people equally, else it's better called 'imperialism' or 'exploitation'. Legalize drugs and prostitution? Naturally, it's your body and mind, I don't get a say. Abortion on demand? Fine - I have even less say in that. Gay marriage? Of course - give me one good reason to say no. The right to bear arms? Certainly - just be responsible; besides, the djinni's been out of the bottle for years - it's pointless to try and put him back in. No foreign wars unless people are dying and we can stop it. No death penalty until our system of justice is flawless, and speaking of our system, it's better for 10 guilty men to go free than one innocent man to go to jail. Freedom of religion and freedom of lack-of-religion. I am a liberal, and I am proud of it.
… which seems to mean my job under this administration is to 'clap louder and like it.'
Before I get a troll rating let me be clear about something - if you voted for Obama, find Obama has fulfilled all your hopes and dreams about what a president should be, and you can't wait to vote all D all the time in November, then I'm happy for you, and I wish I shared some of that enthusiasm.
I do not share that view however; nor your enthusiasm. Today, I'm looking at voting in November with a belly full of disgust. Make no mistake - my opinion on this election is I'm likely going to hold my nose and vote - and I hate it.
This is not how voting should feel.
From the recent polls, I'm guessing there are a few people out there who feel the same.
Back in '92, I turned 18, and I voted for the first time, for Bill Clinton, and I was excited to do it. I'd been a Perot supporter until he dropped out (the first time) because I was young, and he was exciting, and it was a nice feeling to be a part of something that felt like it would bring change - real, honest to god change. When Perot started displaying the crazy well… there was never any real chance I was voting for Bush. As the campaign marched on, and Gore was picked to be VP, I became more excited about the democratic ticket. On election day I was happy with my choice, and proud to pull the lever for the first time. I even smiled a little bit.
That is how voting should feel.
Then in 2008 I was an Obama supporter, because I was not nearly so young, and he was exciting, and it was a nice feeling to be a part of something that felt like it would bring change - real, honest to god change. When election day came along, I voted early, once again with a smile on my face.
That too, is how voting should feel.
Now it's two years later, and I'm reading an e-mail about GoTV, and can I contribute, and all I can think is 'I've got a solution for your GoTV problems, and it won't cost you a dollar. Have a pen? Start by: - ripping Simpson out of the Catfood Commission; with a crowbar if necessary - not terminating federal employees because Glen Beck says you should - not going before the supreme court to fight legal trials for the Guantanamo prisoners - fighting for healthcare. Not 'giving away the store and calling it a win' healthcare - fighting for financial reform. Not 'giving away the store… (you get the idea) - Not seeking compromise for it's own sake, especially when it's so clearly uncalled for. And then seeking it again, and again… - not being so wishy-washy on gay marriage and DADT that I can find Republicans who're more progressive than you. - Calling out the war architects for their utter and resounding failures, instead of giving them an OVERWHELMING free-pass. [note: someone out there is thinking 'well, he's a forward looking president…' I get that, but look at the news cycle this past day and you tell me if you think this was a good idea] - NOT whining about having a maybe maybe-not 60 vote majority - I don't recall this being a problem for Republicans. Further, don't chalk this up to 'well, they aren't playing by the rules…' because shame on you for not thinking of this when they were in power, as apparently you could've spared us the major abuses of the Bush years. - standing up and saying 'dammit it's a community center, not a mosque, and even if it were a mosque this is America, and so long as you have a permit you can build whatever you like - grow up people' - Lastly, picking a fight. I mean it, a real fight. I knock down, spitting, cursing, MOTIVATING fight. Pick something - something overwhelming. Something just plain huge - the biggest, baddest issue we're facing, and run at it full steam. Try to pass a budget with a trillion dollars set aside for job retraining and housing assistance for the poor, another trillion for rebuilding the power grid and bridges, and revoking the corporate liability shield so 'I didn't know my company was committing crimes' doesn't fly, or raising the tax rate on incomes over 10 million dollars to 50%.
Someone out there is currently getting ready to tear my head off for being another guy to take a shot at the administration and the Democratic party, and this leads nicely into the question I need to ask:
When did we become Republicans?
Seriously - when did questions become inappropriate? When was 'dissent' relabeled 'killing the party'? When was a difference of opinion rebranded as 'trolling' or 'promoting failure'?
When did it become my job to clap the loudest when I agree the least?
I logged into Dkos today, and saw that journal tearing into Greenwald, and when I got to the end about how we on the left have to grow up and act like adults I actually chuckled. A thousand words dripping with flame and vitriol, taking someone to task for having a different opinion from yours… followed by a command to grow up and act like adults - the natural inference being the ever popular 'I'm serious and you're not'. We see this everywhere, from Gibbs and Emmanuel to the senate to here.
And you wonder why they need 50 million for GoTV.
If you're still here and wondering what I'm hoping you'll take away from reading this journal, it's simply this: the discrepancy between the enthusiasm of 2008 and 2010 was to some degree unavoidable, but the overwhelming quantity of 'meh' floating around democratic voters speaks to a systemic issue that must have at least some basis in reality, and it would do wonders for people to recognize this, and reach out rather than get angry.
There are thousands and thousands and thousands of us who feel we've been duped and ignored, and this administration and this party could work miracles by ceasing the calls to get in lock step, and for once stand for something other than compromise.
Say we'll balance the budget by ending the drug war - it's not working anyway. Or cutting corporate welfare, or ending the insane bush-era tax cuts, or cutting back on defense - not troops, but defense - we can do with one fewer bombers, honestly we can. Say we're going to secure Social Security by raising the tax ceiling by that oh so little bit that would seal the deal - turn the rhetoric of impending doom around to push legislation the other side will just loathe. Say we're going to get all FDR in this house, and put people to work rebuilding bridges and the power grid, and the railroad, or laying just stupid quantities of fiber-optics to bolster our communications network.
A little liberal populism would energize hundreds of thousands of people, help to rebuild our nation, and wipe out the supposed enthusiasm advantage overnight.
Admit it - wouldn't that feel a lot better than what we've got?