I'm still dazed that the cause that burned so fiercely in me for the past seven years--fury that inspired me to become a political blogger, rage that pushed me out into the streets along with hundreds of thousands of other people despite news organs slavishly devoted to pushing Bush's message, a white hot resolve that kept me fired up to elect a president who would respect rule of law and reject the Bush doctrine--now has suddenly come to an anti-climactic end.
Millions mobilized around the world to protest this unjust war.
Now it ends not with a bang, but a whimper.
It's caught me up short. Mingled with my despair over the needless deaths, American and Iraqi, or over the tatters left in our social fabric and political institutions is ...relief. Relief at no longer having to be angry, because it's been exhausting to sustain almost a decade of outrage. And some regret too that it seems President George W. Bush, his crony Vice President Dick Cheney and fellow warmongers Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, Rice, and others, will never receive justice for the war crimes they committed.
What's consolation in all of this is the joy that so many servicemen and women will experience upon being united with their families. I'm thrilled for them. I really am. The overwhelming majority of our military served with great honor. They were tireless in carrying out the mission they were given. Some even objected to the war's justification with enormous personal courage--not from the sidelines, after the heat of battle, but as they were called to serve.
They paid an enormous price...and how can I say this honestly? They did so while many of the rest of us obligingly went shopping when asked.
We as a nation took a long time to decide we'd collectively made a mistake in listening to George W. Bush. We seem to be arriving at a similar conclusion about the wisdom of our objectives in Afghanistan. It took a long time to get people ginned up for war. It'll take a long time for us to untangle its seismic meaning, put the furniture right, and clean up the broken pieces.
+++++++++++++++++++++++The broader significance, as I look back over just the past few weeks is this: we have a new president who did what he said he'd do.
- Operation Iraqi Freedom is officially over.
- Elena Kagan is now the second stellar woman President Obama has nominated successfully to the US Supreme Court.
- Green economic investment is up. (There was a 230% growth of private investment since 2005 worldwide; the US funded $400 million from the Recovery Act and was urged by private business to increase that from $5 billion to $16 billion per year for the next several years.)
GM, that wreck of a car manufacturer that was about to evaporate just 18 months ago? Is now poised to present an (IPO) Initial Public Offering--sell its stock to re-capitalize--after finally turning its business around and successfully building electric and other cars that run on alternative fuels.
This past year we had a major health bill and a major financial regulation bill passed. We may yet get our climate/energy bill, and perhaps immigration reform.
Ripping up the blank check that was Operation Iraqi Freedom will help our bottom line. (It won't be free, but it won't cost what it did previously. Next, Afghanistan.) Domestically, we could let the Bush tax cuts expire in January. This is helpful because 18% of us want to either let all Bush tax cuts expire or 51% say let them expire on the people making $300,000 a year and higher--again reducing our deficits.
There's more of that kind of laundry list here.Is it nearly impossible for us to believe that we're winning? As progressives are we by nature unable to revel in our successes? Have we been taught too well to amend, qualify, hedge? A useful reflex when we're the opposition, but not so helpful when we're the party in the White House.
I understand the impulse to be cautious about doing an end zone dance. Look who declared "mission accomplished" too soon, and has looked like a fool ever since.
But if we can't believe we're winning because we lack faith in our little steps forward, we should know we're winning because the disloyal opposition is throwing everything it has at us to slow us down. If not stop us outright. If it can demoralize us it will. If it can drive us nuts from the illogic, it will. If it can split us off from a united purpose, it will.
The opposition is terrified, and you know why? Because we must be making progress. In spite of the difficulty of what we have to achieve. (It's lonely out here in this uphill optimism, but apparently I'm joined by sister MOMocrat Karoli and... Eugene Robinson. So be it.)
Here's an example of why reaching beyond the status quo is hard:
The GOP: war without end is a jobs program.The Democrats: a green economy puts people back to work.
See how easy it is to unite behind the GOP's proposition? Plenty find it amenable for religious or war profiteering reasons, or maybe because it's the way it's always been. Status quo. Past experience shows us this is true. It's an easy track to follow because the skids have been greased by a well-entrenched military-industrial complex. It's also easy to unite in opposition to endless war. Being anti-war is easy. When it stops with a whimper, the sound of crickets is loud. Being pro-peace is harder.
But not only do we have to prove the Democratic proposition true, we have to build the bridge there first before we can cross it and plant the victory flag on the other side. If we lack faith or resolve, how will we convince a fickle and scared public to follow us? The green economy is the one sector that's growing, but those shoots are fragile and need watering. Already Europe and China outpace us on green economic investment.
What is our united purpose? Rescusitating the American middle class and making sure there's a safety net for the most vulnerable. To do that we'll need more and better Democrats in the House and Senate.
We were powered by outrage before. We must be powered by an unshakeable commitment to rebuilding our country now.
All this hysterical vitriol, this poisoned political atmosphere? They're scared we're winning. Let's put some earplugs in and win some more.
Cynematic blogs at P i l l o w b o o k. Her garden of 22 tiny little watermelons are the only things keeping her going on some days. She plans on enjoying every single one, if it takes til Halloween.