John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton

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Huh. Well, that could have gone better. I think the icon says it all.

Let me say one thing up front: if you voted for the President, I'm OK with that. Don't get me wrong, I think you chose poorly, but if your conscience led you to choose Bush, then you would have been foolish not to vote for him. And I do think there are some perfectly legitimate reasons to prefer to see Bush re-elected. (Frankly, it's harder for me to understand why people support Spuffy, or H/D.) So I can't justify being angry at anyone for voting for President Bush.

Besides, why waste perfectly good anger on the voters when I could save it all for the President? I think the last four years have been a disaster. In almost every regard, things are worse now than they were four years ago. More people are living in poverty. More children don't get enough to eat, and lack access to adequate health care. More people are out of work. Wages are stagnant at best. Public schools are finding it harder and harder to do anything but prepare their students for standardized tests. The military is stretched thin, and fewer people are volunteering to serve, and those that do barely earn enough money to support their families. Radical Islamists, who didn't much like us to begin with, now hate us even more, and have killed hundreds of Americans soldiers in terrorist attacks. And the abortion rate has gone up. Up! Based on this kind of record, it's hard to have much confidence about what will happen during the next four years.

But there are reasons to think we're entering, as the President said earlier today, a season of hope. Bush doesn't have to worry about re-election anymore, and like most second-term Presidents he's probably thinking about his place in history, so maybe he won't see the need to pander quite so heavily to his conservative base. It's extremely unlikely—his political consciousness was formed in the South, where there's a tradition of using politics less as a tool for effective governance than for rewarding your friends and punishing your enemies (not that the South is the only place where that's the case; I'm old enough to remember the first Mayor Daley, after all)—but I suppose it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

For my own part, I'm most hopeful that Bush's second term will, like those of Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Johnson, and Eisenhower, beome engulfed in scandal. God knows there are a lot of potential scandals lurking just over the horizon, and it's definitely more likely than not that one or more of them will overtake the administration. Kevin Drum made a strong argument for just that sort of thing happening in a recent article for Washington Monthly, which is definitely worth checking out. Let's hear it for schadenfreude!

One last thing: don't let your anger go to waste. I firmly believe that the second Bush administration will be just as big a disaster as the first, and that things will continue to get worse for anyone who is neither wealthy or a large corporation, and I'll bet a lot of people reading this agree. There's not much any of us can do to prevent it at this point, but we can at least do what we can to help slow the decline. No matter where you live, there are a lot of volunteer opportunities available to you. Be a tutor. Volunteer at your local hunger relief agency. Given to the United Way. Help Habitat for Humanity build houses for the poor. If nothing else, visit the the Hunger Site and the Child Health Site every day. There's a lot that will need to be done, and there can never be too many people to do it.

And don't forget about organizations like MoveOn and ACT, and your local Democratic committee. It took years for the Republican Party to build up the massive Conservative infrastructure it now enjoys. Progressives are taking baby steps toward establishing a similar infrastructure to support the political left, but it won't happen overnight. "Don't mourn; organize." But as Marshall Wittman points out, organization isn't everything; the left needs new ideas and new messages, because the old ones aren't working for a lot of people. We all have a role to play in helping develop the new politics of the left.

Keep the faith, everyone.

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