Wednesday, November 06, 2002

For a left-leaning, drug-munching liberal arts student, much of the charm of living in Johnson City, Tennessee was being an outsider. In a small mountain town, you can't hide your true colors; everyone has an ax to grind; and there's plenty of time for the airing of greivances. There were times when I felt like everyone at WalMart or sitting at the red light on Roan Street was a gun-toting, god-fearing, blood-thristy survivalist bent on hunting down dissenters. East Tennessee is as conservative as it is remote. Which is part of the reason why the bonds shared by people of like mind are so special.


Just for old times' sake, I'm going to share something with you guys. I am pissed off. It is November 6 and I woke up to the news of a Republican-controlled government from stem to stern. Some would call that totalitarian. I'm one of them. Brook's not happy today.


Emailing back and forth between blood relatives (who have to listen patiently), I formed a thought that I'm going to share with you guys. It's long. If you don't like it, blog more and it will go away soon enough. It's political... you all knew I would rant politically sooner or later. It's only marginally relevant to the music scene, but here it is.

__________________________

What it means to be an outsider


Lets just face it, Democrats suck at insider politics. You would think that since Al Gore lost the election (it was stolen, I know), we would take a hint that the "insider" game wasn't working so well and realize there is no more room at the "middle." The Republicans have colonized this historically Democratic-controlled territory -- the vast middle ground where Americans frolic happily with 2.4 children and a secure, if not buxom retirement account.


Otherwise knuckle-dragging paleo-conservatives have "rehabilitated" their image by seeming to move to the middle -- adding "compassionate" to the conservative label. They get away with this because no one challenges them in the lie. Thereby a "faith-based initiative" isn't so much the destruction of the separation between church and state because no one stands up to say "NO matter what you call it, it's still state-sponsored religion." An imperialistic campaign to war for booty in Iraq, isn't so much the destruction of the world's collective security, if no one is there to say "NO, we won't let you take the world to war for oil."


How does a Democrat "rehabilitate" their image without a middle ground to go to? The conventional wisdom of "moving to the middle" -- support the tax cut, support the war -- is an mirage. It's a heat wave rising from the newly charred ground after 9-11. Wars and tax cuts for the rich aren't middle-ground issues -- they are the antithesis of it.


The republicans are wink and nod when they put "compassionate" in front of conservatism. It's like Jumbo Shrimp. Shrimp can be big -- in relation to other very small things. And so, conservatives can be compassionate -- in relation to other lying, mean-spirited, greedy bastards. Draw a happy face on Jesse Helms and you get George Bush (put a feather boa on him and you get Jesse Ventura). Cross-dressing for conservatives.


And here's the breath-taking irony -- when conservatives LIE about what they really intend to do, people like them better, because they are drawing a happy face on the greedy bastard. Every Democrat should know this and call them on it without hesitation. Nobody wants clear-cutting, corporate-raiding, evangelical theocrats running the country. So, what do we, the Democrats, do as a strategic counter-move? We draw a greedy bastard face on a smiley. By jockeying for the vanishing "middle ground" Democrats LIE about what they intend to do, thereby diminishing their appeal. Tarnishing their image from one of compassion and hope, to one of competition for scarce resources. "As Democrats, we are answering your call to join in the spirit of bipartisanship with our brethren, the Republicans, in revoking your freedoms, raping the environment and eroding the middle class. We know this is what you want or else you won't vote for us." Who in their right mind would think this was a good strategy?


Mondale said today in his concession speech that our ideals are tested more in defeat than in victory. Well, no shit. And I'm sick and tired of it. The environment doesn't have any more time to wait on our ideals. The middle class needs a victory of their own. Now is the time for hope, ideas and action -- outsider politics fueled by the courage of conviction.


It's time for a new Contract For America. Maybe we can call it something less corporate-sounding. I know it's not catchy, but how about, "The Battle Between Good and Evil." When the stakes are this high, there is no sense in parsing words. The time for accommodation is over, and outsider status affords the Democrats the opportunity to lay waste to the strategic disaster of patriotic bipartisanship.


The Democratic agenda isn't about prescription drugs. It's not about deficits. It's not about pension reform (especially when hardly anyone has one). It's about being decent people in a world that requires good citizenship because without civil order, everything goes to hell and that ain't good for business. The republicans want to put the cart before the horse. If it ain't good for business, then it ain't good for you. Well, fuck that. When was the last time a business you worked for gave a shit about you. You are a Human Resource the same way a pencil is a Material Resource. Sharpen it down to a nub and throw it away.


The Democrats have lost their way, so we must help them remember who they are, and I have two words that will help them stay on track. The words are, "Fuck That." Trust me, you'll have the opportunity to use these two words copiously in the next two years of Republican totalitarianism.


When the (Republican) agenda is about to going to war and the Democratic agenda is about to going to war more slowly, you say, "Fuck That!" Say it to yourself; to the television; to the people at the water cooler; and to the people at the protest. When the (Republican) agenda is to drill for oil in the Arctic Preserve, you say, "Fuck That!" When the agenda is confirmation of another wacko wing-nut conservative nominee for a judge-ship, you say... FUCK THAT!


Don't be an outsider because it's what's left. Be an outsider because it's what's right.

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