Saturday, April 22, 2006

things I don't believe in any longer

Vermeer's Allegory of Faith. I still have faith in many things, but there are at least a couple of ideals that have lost their shimmer of meaning for me. For example:

1. The Democratic Party. Perhaps it's the party, and not I, that has lost its faith. I still believe in the things the Democrats say they believe in: equality, social justice, compassion. Yes, I will still vote Democrat when it matters, that is, when my vote counts -- if, for example, I am still living in New York in 2008, I don't know if I will vote for the Democratic candidate. I won't vote Republican, but if the party decides on somebody like Hillary Clinton, I just might have to write in the late Paul Wellstone. If I'm living in someplace like Ohio or Florida, I would probably vote for Hillary and then stay drunk for two weeks.

It does matter -- the 2000 election shows that yes, there can be a great difference between Republicans and Democrats. I even gave money to the Democrats in 2004. Still, I am tired of getting emails and letters from party leaders telling me how we all know how bad the Republicans are and how I have to send them money to fight their evil ways. This is the message they send the true believers on the left. Their attitude in congress and in the media is completely different. It doesn't matter how bad the war gets, how many laws the president violates, how shamelessly corrupt their corporate-friendly laws and no-bid contracts are. The Democrats offer the least of resistance.

Of course, in many ways their hands are tied by their own cowardice and lack of political will and imagination. Most of them voted for Bush's war and Patriot Act. Terrified of appearing weak, they showed themselves to be unfathomably spineless. With Bush's approval rating at 33%, much of which has to do with the war, they still can not put together a collective alternative, despite individual efforts like that of John Murtha, who was slandered by the Republicans amid the general complacency of his fellow Democrats. When Russ Feingold suggested censoring the president for breaking the law, his colleagues avoided him like the plague. One can argue about whether that proposal was appropriate or not at this time (I believe it was), but it was the kind of proposal that I would expect from the party that sends me those letters asking for money to fight the Republicans.

Please Nancy, Howard, John, and Hillary, (to quote Bob Dylan): "Don't send me no more letters, no." Not unless you grow some cojones and actually act like an opposition with vision.

Stop letting the Republicans define the terms of the debate. Whenever Democrats protest the reasons for the war, the GOP shouts back, "you had the same information we had." Please. The information came from the administration. The Democrats should say, "If we supported the war, it was because we were mislead by the information provided by the administration. We were at best given bad information by incompetents, at worst fooled by liars. Either way, the administration is guilty of leading us into a war for the wrong reasons."

Will they ever say something like this? Call the GOP on the war, the corrupt and incompetent reconstruction afterwards, the pushing of laws dictated by the oil or the pharmaceutical industries, the obscene racism and social injustice built into our system and made evident during the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina?

I recall Nanni Moretti in his film Aprile, watching a televised debate between his preferred candidate, Massimo D'Alema, and the horrible Silvio Berlusconi. Berlusconi talks on and on and D'Alemo can't get a word in edgewise. Moretti, frustrated, begins to shout at the TV screen:

"D'Alemo, say something left-wing!

Say something sensible even if it isn't left-wing!

Say something!


That's what I want to shout at the Democratic Party, and if they follow my advice, they might actually win control of congress in November and the presidency in 2008. Then I might start to believe a little, though at this point I don't promise to do anything but vote for them in extreme situations. Listen, Democratic Party:


This post is getting long. I will discuss other things I no longer believe in later.


crystal said...


Sandalstraps said...


But, I say (as a Democrat) that the Democrats will win back the Senate and the presidency, but it may not do this country any good. We are locked into bad policies, and I'm not sure that the Democrats have the political will to get us out of those policies. In general the Party in power is principally concerned with keeping power. You don't get to keep power if you balance the budget by cutting some benefits and raising taxes significantly enough to undo the damage of Bush's reckless tax cuts. And if the Democrats don't do that, and if they don't reign in our military machine (at the risk of looking "weak"), the government won't have enough money to act boldly. We will spend the next few decades fluctuating between bad Democrats and bad Republicans, trying desperately to keep from drowning in a sea of debt.

Not that I'm a peesimist or anything.

By the way, Liam, good to see that you're writing more. Does that mean that your schedule is getting less crowded?

KcM said...

Sing it, brother.

Liam said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way. Of course, for things really to change, it will take more than just an invigorated Democratic party. I don't think this country can be a real democracy until no party will spend millions on TV advertising because everyone will be too smart to be affected by a 20-second commercial. They will understand the issues and vote with compassion and never against their own interests in favor of the wealthy few. Very utopian of me to think so.

Chris -- the schedule is still crazy, but I find it therapeutic to post something when I find the time. Thanks for stopping by.