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November 8, 2002

Heroes of the (Left Liberal) Revolution?

Posted by Mike on November 8, 2002 5:54 PM

So, today I'm up to my gills in the left-leaning Web.

The post-election post-mortems are flying around. I occasionally go to visit a right wing site because their smirking and high-fiving is comforting: they believe in their heart of hearts that the political map's most leftward edge is Hillary Clinton, which means there's nowhere left for Democrats to go but the dustbin of history.

The least thoughtful righties, of course, believe Tuesday's mess wasn't the result of the Democrats dropping any balls... they believe Democrats are universally hated. Whatever... the smart ones at places like the National Review are already making the token significations against the dangers of hubris, lest it provoke a backlash.

But I'm sitting here, a 34-year-old dotcom worker who spends most of the day in his jammies, thinking that one of our most cherished political axioms, that you can't hope to change anything if you don't vote, is right in the same way saying the sky isn't usually a nice shade of pumpkin: there's more to it.

On Wednesday morning I said my hope (and that of others) was that the 2000 debacle would force Democrats to the table with the progressive voters they were getting really, really strong messages from in the form of Nader defections. It didn't happen. 9/11 hogtied them, and the analysts are beginning to note that Bush campaigned the hardest against some of his most friendly supporters in the Democratic party, letting the lefties be lefties while he managed to make rightward Democrats look like cubic zirconium Republicans: why vote for the cheap imitation when you can choose the genuine article and get a tax cut, too?

So when a political party becomes useless as even shrill opposition, it seems like voting becomes less useful than normal.

It's easy to be disgusted with "the Democrats" in the third person, complaining about how they keep selling "us" out, or how they're rudderless, or how they need to come to the table with progressives. But as long as they're "them" and I'm "us," it'll keep being that way.

A couple of nights ago, Michael B. and I came to independent but similar conclusions: whining about how bad the Democrats suck is as pointless as voting for Nader every doesn't work, nothing changes, and we keep getting stiffed, which means we're left with the option of either pantomiming political involvement every two years and pulling the levers like monkeys hoping for a treat instead of a nasty shock, or becoming part of the problem in hopes of maybe getting to be part of the solution.

So Michael ran out and found the local Democratic Party Web page where you can volunteer to do stuff, and I'm fairly convinced that even if it's as a foot soldier or grunt, I'll be doing something. I wouldn't pass a background check, so it'll be as a "party worker." Maybe it'll end poorly: political parties are gigantic machines with entrenched players who know what they want and regularly crush obstacles or coopt resisters. But there's nothing much left. The Supreme Court crushed fusion voting years ago, affirming a de facto two party system, so we're stuck with what we've got.

I think I'd rather know that I was within spitting distance of the people who set the agenda long before I ever get a lever to pull than continue to deny votes to the candidates I like best and complain about the ones for which I feel forced to vote.

Quixotic? Alarmist? The Democrats will self-heal into a force for progressive voices in government?



Posted by: Lolita at October 11, 2003 6:09 AM