The simplest way I can put this is that in 2008, change was more or less unopposed. The previous inhabitant of the White House was clearly wrong, and what change meant couldn't have been clearer.
But then something happened we should have expected all along: the Republicans and those that back them adapted, loathe to let go of power, bitter at their defeat, and fearful at the threat posed by their not being in charge, after years of being told that this was all that was between the country and sure disaster.
If you're not that motivated, if the internal party differences are more interesting and necessary to do at the momenty, by all means, don't think of the larger picture. But if you want broader change, if you're not interested in lying down before the might of the special interests and the Republican party political establishment, understand this: this will be a political war for the forseeable future, and if you can't ally yourself with like-minded (though not identically minded) folks from the left, the fearful unity of the GOP will be what wins.
Until we see things developing otherwise, we should assume that Republicans are going to resist, in every way possible, any attempt by us to hold onto power we already have, much less grab new power for ourselves.
For the time being, their will to defeat us, to defeat Obama may be greater than any differences they have amongst themselves. For the time being, the Citizens United SuperPAC boys, especially the Kochs, may be able to push the elections further to the right than they would already go.
But not everything runs to their advantage. In my opinion, the Republican Party is not in place, psychologically, where it can truly take advantage of its advantages. They got a large majority in the House, but they got jackasses so mired in partisanship in order to get those seats, that even John Boehner is describing his caucus as a wheelbarrow full of frogs. Just look at how both the Debt Ceiling and Government shutdown votes required our party's help to pass something. The Tea Party candidates are so self-absorbed in their politics that they fail to realize that our government was set up in such a way as to blunt the self-absorbed politics of fervent minorities.
They have set themselves the absolutely most arduous and energy-sapping task that anybody could set themselves in our particular Republic, and that is basically attempting a kind of ideological coup not just of their party, but of the politics of the nation in general.
Their big problem, to be blunt, is that they're pretty much oblivious to what they could do if they were to start offering bipartisan compromises, if they were to put aside purism and just bargain. But maybe they have to be!
See, that's the thing: as crappy as compromise is, in Congress, compromise is the natural way of things, what the Framers built into our system, with the Senate, the House, and the President having to all agree before an act of Congress becomes law. Democrats, however painful and ugly it was, got a hell of a lot more done. Republicans, meanwhile, have fallen far behind what history considers one of the most feckless Congresses in history, the one Truman ran against. They are the Do-Nothing's Do-Nothing Congress. And why? Because they can't bear the thought of compromising with anybody.
With luck, this is the fulcrum by which we can break the Republican Party's back. But first, we have to resist the exact same mistake.
We can only rule as a majority if we can put our differences aside, and work to common cause. Without each other, we lose to the Republicans, in our elections, and in our votes. It will not always be easy, but if we want the power to change things, we have to organize not just our own advocacy and activism, but some kind of common understanding between all our factions, all our interests.
No one group can win its issues by itself. By themselves, the GBLT community is not enough to pass the laws or change the regulations. But with the help of others, they can win. By themselves, the unions aren't powerful enough to beat back the scumbags like Scott Walker. With the help of the rest of us, though, we can beat back their power. By themselves, the environmentalists cannot force polluters to stop spewing their waste or ratchet down the greenhouse gasses. But with a majority to back them, we can get somewhere.
We need to realize that the other side is very good at maintaining its unity when it comes to winning elections, and at this point, that's the only thing they're really good at cooperating towards.
We can't ultimately win if we don't have majorities. We need them for the sake of being able to set the agenda, move forward our policy, get the things to a willing president's desk necessary to create progress. Yes, we may find once we elect these people that they are not all they are cracked up to be. That is a different problem, and one we can deal with better once we have the numbers to absorb some primary candidate shifts.
We need to do things in the right order, not fall apart in the face of this fierce opposition we've been hit with. We need to recognize that the authors of our frustrations these last few years have been the Republicans, and this was done with the deliberate goal of crushing our morale. They want to do worse than silence us, they want to discourage us to the point where we silence ourselves. They want us to give up hope of changing things, because if we, in all our different interest groups decide our support means nothing...
...well then, they win.
This is not a question of whether you are an incrementalist or somebody who wants things right now. This is not a question of whether you're a Clinton centrist or a Krugman Liberal. This is a question of whether you want a system that can move in that direction, or one where any potential of such success is gone.
If we keep electing or allow to be elected folks who oppose us, we're we're going to keep getting our asses kicked. Yes, I know the Koch Brothers and others have gotten their way in the Citizens United case. But that does not make them all powerful, does not mean they can't lose. And we shouldn't start thinking that way. we should not be taking an approach to politics where we have already cut off our options before we've even begun.
Yes, we got hit, and we got knocked down. We have the choice to lie down and bury our pain and suffering in passive cynicism, or get stubborn and competitive enough to push back. Pushing back will get us what we want. lying down and burying ourselves will not.
You may think that my support of Obama means I haven't been disappointed, or that I don't think he's made mistakes. The trick is, I have been disappointed. But I expected to be, to a certain extent. I expect friction to steal some of our forward momentum. I've read my history and absolutely NO progressive agenda in our nation's history has simply been allowed by the powerful interests to just ease into implementation. We had to fight for damn near everything, and the expectation that we should have had things easier is TOXIC, because it discourages precisely when things are at their toughest, and the chances of reversing the other side's BS is greatest.
You got to be stubborn. You got to be committed. You got to be resilient in the face of people who have made an apocalyptic event out of defeating you and the President.
Whatever you fear or dislike about today's policy, you need elected leaders who are most closely aligned to you in order to fix things. At the very least this upcoming election is your opportunity to lay the groundwork for getting things done at some point, if not just now.
Plan for resistance. Plan for some Republican to come back and punch you in the mouth, rather than sit down and let you do what you want.
Plan to fight for what you want, even when the system's not cooperating with you.
For the time being, the Republicans are going to make everything into a fight, and getting anything done is going to be exhausting, painful, and frustrating. That's deliberate. If you can endure the frustration, the mental pain and the mental exhaustion, though, you might find a party that is itself exhausted, folding at last under the pressures. But that may not come unless you commit to fighting them now.