Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Silent Majority is Screaming

Hello all.

Well, let me start this off by saying what I'm sure a lot of you are saying right about now: "Thank God the election's over!" Yes, regardless of where we may stand on the issues or the outcome, I'm sure we can all agree that the whole thing was getting old. Signs and protests and slogans and buttons and stickers and shirts and billboards name it. By this point I've seen enough campaign bumper stickers to last me, oh, for the next four years or so. As for the result of the election itself, well, I don't suppose it will come as any big surprise to anyone that I'm not exactly upset about the way everything turned out. Not because I'm a rank-and-file Bush supporter (certainly not), but because this election has restored my faith in the silent majority, and because I believe this loss will open up a few avenues of thought for today's Democrats that they probably wouldn't have explored on their own.

Before I go any further, I want to make it clear that I'm not saying this to gloat over the election results or to offer any smug advice to anyone. Honestly, I think it's one of the great weaknesses of American politics that political differences must automatically be seen as personal differences, especially when I can say with total sincerity that I love the Democratic Party...and you should too. Many of our nation's finest moments, after all, have come under the leadership of Democratic leaders: It was a Democrat who ended the Great Depression. It was a Democrat who brought about the end of World War II. It was a Democrat who made space travel and exploration a reality...and on and on. Truly, in their best moments, Democrats have offered America any variety of different accomplishments, always laced with optimism and enthusiasm. It's because of this that the Democrats are often associated with young people - bright, optimistic, and full of ideas - while Republicans are typically portrayed as the exact opposite: older, stiff, and overbearingly prudish. In recent years, however, I believe there's been a strain of thought introduced into the Democrats' way of thinking that has fundamentally changed the party and effectively reversed their traditional roles.

Rather than upholding their forward-looking ideals of old, the newer generation of Democrats seems to possess an incredible amount of cynicism and outright contempt for their fellow man. Today while browsing through some Internet message boards, for example, I found postings by young Democrats who offered the following explanations for why John Kerry lost the election: "Kerry," said one, "is too smart for Americans." "Kerry lost," another explained, "because most of America is inbred." This of course ties right in to the sentiments of other, more well-known Democrats like Michael Moore, who once told a crowd of European admirers that the dumbest European was smarter than the smartest American.

There's an obvious irony in this sort of thinking when you stop to consider the fact that the Democratic Party was at one time a party which sought to represent the common man (i.e. the blue collar worker.) My grandfather - God rest his soul - was a bricklayer and, until the day he died, he was also a Democrat, reminding me at every opportunity that the Democrats represented people like him and that Republicans only did favors for the wealthy. (This belief is still widely held today, as President Bush is often described by his detractors as caring more about corporations and oil revenues than about the American people.) But tell me this, and tell me honestly, is today's Democratic Party the same party that my grandfather invested his lifelong blue-collar trust in? Do modern Democrats still care about the common man? Well, I don't know about you, but to me it seems as if today's Democrats really kind of HATE the common man. To them, he is stupid, inbred, uneducated, and fundamentalist to a fault. If someone voted for Bush, it's not because they agreed with his policies. No no, it's because they were too DUMB to vote for John Kerry. Seriously, this is how they think. And never - until now, hopefully - have they ever stopped to realize that maybe the reason voters didn't rally behind the Democrats this time around is because it's not in our human or American nature to support anyone who's staring down their nose at us in contempt.

I know I sound angry when I talk about this, and maybe I am to some degree. But more than that, I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed that such a great party has allowed itself to drift so far off course. Where, I wonder, are the Democrats who once encouraged us to ask, not what our country could do for us, but what we could do for our country? Where are the Democrats who once told us, not to look at the things which ARE and ask why, but instead to look at the things which AREN'T and ask why not? And here's another thing I'm wondering about...Today's anti-war movement largely consists of angry young Democrats screaming slogans and praising the death of U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Where, I wonder, are the peace protestors of old who handed out flowers, blew kisses to total strangers, and said to imagine all the people living life in peace?...Kind of sad when you stop and put it into perspective, isn't it? Our one-time idealists have become our most vocal pessimists. And what makes it even worse is how simple it could be for them to regain their former status and really become effective again. It's so simple, in fact, that you really have to wonder how people who claim to be so high-and-mighty educated don't get it:

If you want to start a revolution - if you really want to create change - you've got to start by loving the people you claim to represent.

Think about it. Why did the Communist Revolution work in Russia? Because the Bolsheviks said they were going to free the common man from imperial domination. Why did the French Revolution work? Same reason. How did Hitler become so popular in Germany? By promising to lift the common people out of their defeated state. Why did our American forefathers leave Britain? So ordinary people could live their lives: simple, decent, and free from the tyranny of kings. Why are people still worshipping Jesus 2000 years after his last public appearance? Because he told the ordinary people around him that they were precious in the eyes of God. And what do all of these things have in common? They all involved an elevation of the common man to a new level of respect and importance. So is it any wonder that the only thing Democrats have to look forward to after years of looking down with disgust at the stupid, inbred common people is another four years of George W. Bush? I don't think so. They have become the elitist aristocracy they once stood in proud defiance of. (Four legs good. Two legs better!) And that's a shame, because at their cores I believe they still have a lot of good ideas.

I believe, for example, that they're right when they encourage us to look for the causes of terrorism instead of simply dropping bombs on people. I think they're right when they encourage support for a free Palestinian state. I think they're right when they encourage President Bush to repair our broken alliances with various European nations. I think they're right when they say America shouldn't prop itself up as better than everyone else (history proves that that's a really good way to fall from grace.) But, until they calm down and learn to embrace the common people who make up this country's heart and soul with respect, I don't think these thoughts will reach people the way they should.

And so the time is now, dear Democrats, and I sincerely hope you'll take this opportunity to re-evaluate yourselves and to find ways to correct the attitudes that have alienated you from much of the American public. You have so much to offer this country, and I really hope you pull it all together. Similarly, I hope Republicans won't resort to flaunting this victory like schoolchildren, but instead use it as a new beginning - a chance to share ideas with our fellow countrymen under strong leadership. It's time that we all work to bridge the gaps that divide the country as a whole, listening to those who disagree with us with respect instead of partisan disdain. Just as we can all agree that we're glad the election's over, I'm sure we can also agree that America can't go on like this. Even John Kerry said the same.

Come on, people. Dare to think big thoughts.
"Come together. Right now."


Blogger absalom said...

it's so refreshing to hear a new POSITIVE statement on politics. i can't remember the last time i've heard an arguement that doesn't just sling mud at an opposing party or have negative connotations toward one or the other party. i also share your sentiment about politics defining personal differences. i myself am Democrat, however i share quite a few common beliefs with Republicans, but often my Republican friends have a hard time recognizing that me being liberal doesn't mean we're all that different. also the cynicism that's quickly becoming a trait of the Democratic party is also a trend that's pushing people (including myself) away from the party, and into the independent zone (while the Republican's conservatism is keeping me from becoming Republican). GREAT article you have here, i really did enjoy it

10:45 PM  
Blogger accountdeactivated said...

"If you want to start a revolution - if you really want to create change - you've got to start by loving the people you claim to represent."

i don't think you are right on this matter.

i believe that the majority of people today in both US and the World are stupid people. they got that way because they have been governed by those that did not wish them well. they corrupted the courts, made healthcare an oxymoron, made love and friendship for another a secondary thing to wealth and power, etc... i look down on these people, because they were stupid enough to let this happen to them, and cynism is required to make us (yeah i include myself in this group) smart people still give a damn for the world and everything around us and make us try to care even for the stupid. otherwise we would have given up a long time ago. the world IS going to hell, and only a few people seem to see it, recognize it and try to do something about it. i am in agrement not with the democrats, and not with the republicans - i am with agreement with people like you and me and others that do not accept the world as such. WE do not just accept the reality as others told us what reality is, but WE go out and search for the truth - in the same way people used to do it in the times of old greek and roman civilisations (WE were the minority then, and WE are a minority now), but back then people listened to the WISE, and today people try to be wiser than the truly WISE. a very bad thing for us all.

i am not from the US and i did not have the chance to vote, but i stayed up all day and night and watched the elections, and the process.

i still can not get over the fact that during the bush era MORE people lost their jobs, MORE people died in wars, MORE people pay higher taxes, MORE people are being homophobes, etc... and STILL they voted bush. i am wondering is the majority of the US folk mad or stupid or both?!!!

bin laden has not been caught. iraq was invaded after supposedely having been producing weapons of mass destruction; iraq was invaded after claiming involvement with bin laden. the kyoto agreement has been terminated by the US. the europe and the rest of the world has been alienated by the BUSH ADMINISTRATION. NATO and UN have been discared as a ragg doll. US claims the HAGUE tribunal has no iurisdiction over the US citizens, but the rest of the world must cooperate fuly with the HAGUE.

and people AGAIN voted BUSH. i can not UNDERSTAND. the world can not understand.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

Hi, first-time lurker, first-time poster ...

You make a decent point. I live in Washington, DC and it's hard to have a political conversation this week without hearing that kind of nastiness seeping out.

But don't hurry to make judments about the character of those people. I'm one of them. We believe very strongly that Bush has made terrible choices about where our country is headed and we see this wrongness so clearly that it is unimaginable to us how so many people could fall for it.

First, I believe that the Republicans have relied on dishonest rhetoric, and stirred up a culture war as a way of gaining the support of those people who, as you say, have traditionally been best represented by the Democratic party. We wish those people could see that the emperor has no clothes, but it appears to us that they don't, and that's extremely frustrating. And that's why we get emotional and say things we don't really mean.

Secondly, don't think such hateful speech is uniquely Democrat. Ann Coulter, Rush, Rove -- These were the people who pulled our discourse to such a low level. Forgive us Democrats if, after months and years of hearing about how effete and elitist and French John Kerry is, after seeing a label we wear proudly -- Liberal -- turned into the worst of slurs, we find it hard to take the high road and continue to play nice guys. We're only human.

Anyway, it's been a hard couple of days for us Democrats. It seemed for a time that our government was going to get back on track -- defending rights of citizens instead of taking them away, promoting the welfare of all citizens instead of trusting the richest to take care of that -- and now we worry that that won't happen for a very long time.

I'm dealing with it by concentrating my thoughts on institutions that are closest to me -- my family, my friends, my neighborhood. I hope that when it comes down to it, that silent majority will do what's right, regardless of how politicians try to manipulate them. I still think people are basically good, they just get misguided sometimes. And that's true for both sides.

12:39 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:40 PM  

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