Already I get the gloating emails from conservative friends who want to preen about the Massachusetts special election yesterday, and I have two words for them: fair enough. Brown ran the perfect campaign, and cleaned the Democrats' clock in their own cloakroom. Anybody who has spent time on these pages knows I'm a frothing, foul-mouthed progressive who would rather be dipped in molten lava than vote for a Republican, but you know what? I'm beginning not to give a shit.
Sure, I will always fight for my hometown heroes: specifically Kirsten Gillibrand in New York, and Larry Kissell in North Carolina, but caring about the bigger picture - the "national debate", if you will - has already begun to fade. In return, I don't expect anyone to give a damn about my opinion, but here are my reasons:
1. The Democratic Party's views and my views have diverged. We now live in a country where NOBODY is asking to repeal the death penalty, and the dialogue of abortion uses nothing but terms invented by the right wing. The "left" of the Democratic party would have been considered radical Republicanism twenty years ago.
Even if the Democrats talk a good game about their agenda, they turn into dithering milksops once they're in power. They have allowed homosexuals to be vilified again and again over the last four years and said nothing, let alone offering abject resistance to DADT and DOMA. My views have remained consistent, but they have wilted so far to the right that I'm having trouble giving them any more money.
2. The Democrats don't know how to rule in the modern era. The Republicans may be assholes, but they're effective assholes. They sure as hell wouldn't have allowed one or two senators to hold their administration-defining agenda hostage. Either the Dems played it cool and vastly miscalculated, or they just don't see modern politics as a blood sport - either way, it's dealbreakingly infuriating. "We are the ones we've been waiting for"? Are you kidding?
As I've said before, I'm a believer in Mamet's idea of Capone's Chicago: they put one of yours in the hospital, you put one of theirs in the morgue. Republicans will not fight fair; they will lie, distort and impugn... and if that doesn't work, they'll brazen it out. They don't care about Americans, they care about getting and holding power by any means necessary. Attempting to negotiate, or playing nice, gets you NOTHING with these people. It's like offering a rattlesnake some lettuce. And it's a confrontation the Democrats are clearly not up for.
A lot of Americans are hurting right now, furious because they've lost their jobs and/or have no health insurance. Their home is worth nothing, and their prospects look terrible. And SOMEHOW, the DEMOCRATS HAVE ALLOWED THEMSELVES TO TAKE THE BLAME FOR ALL OF IT. Never mind the facts. Our party has become the firemen who are blamed for the fire.
3. The public discourse on all political issues has become poisonous. News media, especially now that the internet has destroyed their previous financial models, has all their eggs invested in keeping political news at TRAUMA STATUS forever. This means constantly creating a news cycle with its own narrative, and that narrative is a lie... until it's repeated so often that it becomes the truth. Which leads to...
4. The American Populace has simply gotten too fucking dumb. I mean, really, think about it. George Bush hands us two wars, a global economy teetering on collapse, a Homeland Security system predicated on torture, and put us a decade behind on the two things that could have gotten us out of this mess (alternative energy and stem cell revolution). His party destroyed the middle class, sped up the demise of the American Empire, and made us the most hated country on the globe. So one year after we elect someone else, we're going to swing power... back to the Republicans?
That's a dumb fucking country right there, folks. Especially in Massachusetts, when everyone knew it was a referendum on the pivotal vote in the Senate. You gotta have the attention span of single-cell bacteria to make that mistake again, but here we go. Three years from now, mark my words, all the "independents" will be up in arms about their "new" Republican overlords, and how they screwed everything up, and the progressives will (again) beat their heads against the goddamn wall.
But not me this time. Fuck it. I'm not "giving up" or anything - I'll still give the maximum to my politicians at a local level - but my days of endlessly reloading 538 or HuffPo or always buying Newsweek at the airport are gradually coming to a close.
I've got one thing in common with these teabagging thugs: I'm furious too. I'm furious at the way I relaxed decades of protective cynicism to feel a smidgen of hope last January, but at least I was no dummy. I'll reprint a couple of sentences I wrote almost exactly a year ago today, not just because I'm a self-aggrandizing twat whose momma didn't pay him enough attention, but because it makes me feel better in a sick sort of way:
I take it on the chin, I understand my place in the 20th and 21st century timeline. 2004 was my last gasp of trying too hard, and as I've said before, something in me broke. Never again will I trust Americans to do the right thing; the revelation of that disgusting, pockmarked underbelly is all I care to take, thank you very much.
Does that mean I miss out on the joy of this moment? A little, yes. I appreciate it intellectually, and I did cry with joy a few times this year. But that's a fever I had once before, and like every virus, it's very hard to catch again.
And with that, I will start meditating again.Posted by Ian Williams at January 19, 2010 11:48 PM