History. We made history.
My Republican friends are no doubt in a foul mood right now, so I want to speak directly to them. Democrats, you may leave the room.
I know you think I’m going to be mean to you. You think I’m going to be a poor winner.
Well, I don’t want that. However, there are a few things that we simply must discuss. Honestly, I’ll be polite.
If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that you saw this coming. John McCain never stood a chance.
There are some very good reasons for this, and most of them have to do with the way he chose to run his campaign. It was the most relentlessly negative campaign I can remember. McCain was not “for” anything — he was against everything.
McCain was inescapably tied to the failed Bush administration. He had no choice. He could never have won the GOP primary otherwise. And it destroyed his credibility when he later claimed to be a candidate of change.
His other huge mistake was allowing his advisors to run a campaign of culture war and smear straight out of the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove playbook. After all, it had served Republicans well for the past twenty-eight years.
This time, the strategy failed. It failed for two primary reasons. First, Barack Obama was a transformative candidate, rather than the same old self-defeating Democrat.
The second reason was, of course, an economic crisis of sufficient severity to cause a majority of voters to reject all else as bullshit. When McCain economic advisor Phil Gramm called us “a nation of whiners,” it became very clear how out-of-touch the campaign really was.
Of course, you helped. And I know you did your best. You took every outrageous smear they could concoct about Obama and e-mailed it all over the planet. About his “suspicious associations,” which turned out to be nothing. About his religious persuasion — that he was at the same time a secret Muslim and a regular churchgoing Christian with a crazy black pastor. That he was a citizen of Kenya (and Indonesia!) and his U.S. birth certificate was a forgery. That he was a Middle Eastern terrorist who was going to undermine America from within. That he was a “socialist,” a term you didn’t actually understand but it sure sounded bad.
Lies, all of it. And admit it — you never really believed that stuff yourself, did you? You were just being good Republicans, spreading the word, hoping to convince a few ignorant undecided voters to help your cause by scaring the shit out of them, and at the same time planting seeds of ominous doubt even among those smart enough to know better.
We know Obama is not Superman. He is the first to admit that he’s not perfect. After all, he’s a White Sox fan. But the only justifiable criticism of his ability to serve as President was his relative lack of experience. And then McCain pulled the rug out from under himself by choosing Caribou Barbie as his running mate.
I don’t expect you to take this defeat lying down. In fact, I’m sure that you and your favored wingnut pundits are already compiling a series of excuses. Vote fraud. A vast African-American conspiracy. The Chicago Mob. Alien space rays.
I understand. Now that the election is over, you are feeling let down. You were good little soldiers, and you have lost the battle.
Guess what? I have good news for you. You still have a role to play going forward. I am giving you a task, an important one, vital for the good of our country as we transition from one administration to the next. Ready?
I’ll say this as nicely as I can.
For the past eight years, you reminded us that George W. Bush was our President, and that we should support him no matter what. Through every disastrous action (or inaction, in the case of Katrina), as the administration loaded the Justice Department with Republican hacks, sliced away our civil liberties, suspended habeas corpus, opened a gulag in Cuba and began systematically torturing prisoners — you wagged your fingers in our faces and insisted that the Office of the President demanded our unquestioning respect.
Now, I expect all of you to show the same respect and deference to President Obama. He is our President, and you are obligated to support him no matter how you feel about the man personally. It is your patriotic duty.
Watch what the current administration does for the remainder of Bush’s term. (Not Bush himself, mind you — he ceased to care long ago.) See how many more environmental regulations they will gut. Count the number of outright criminals and shady characters that will receive presidential pardons. You were so outraged over the pardons issued by Bill Clinton when he left office. What will you say about this batch? Will you express appropriate outrage this time?
No, you won’t. You’ll blame everyone else — the “liberal” media, “activist” judges, and Democrats. Hell, you’re still blaming Jimmy Carter for things almost thirty years after he left office. Perhaps you should…
I know what I saw on television Tuesday night. I wonder what you saw. An affront, perhaps. Young people and people of color, people you typically marginalize and dismiss. What I recognized as historic celebrations probably appeared to you as street riots.
If it scares you, it should. You are seeing the new face of the Democratic party. You are seeing diversity. Young and old, white and ethnic, straight and gay, Christian and non-Christian and atheist. These are the people that you Republicans have chased off with your wedge issues and politics of divisiveness, leaving you with a constituency of the white, indignant, and constipated.
Maybe you should drink more coffee. Or better yet…
You and your right-wing mouthpieces have turned the word “liberal,” a proud term, a noble philosophy, into an epithet that you spit through clenched teeth. So we’ve jettisoned it for a new term, “progressive.”
Some of the best news coming out of this election cycle is that the conservative blowhards — Limbaugh, Ingraham, Malkin, and the chowderheads at Fox News — failed at their mission this time. Their corporate puppet masters are going to be very, very disappointed in them. We may even see some of them disappear from the airwaves.
This bulletin just in…
As I have discussed before, some of you may be Republicans for one reason only — the abortion issue.
Without discussing the merits on either side of this issue, I will say that it’s important to take a moral stand on something you care deeply about.
However, if you think for one minute that Republican politicians are actually going to do away with the right to choose, you are beyond naïve. Why would they jeopardize the perfect wedge issue, the only issue guaranteed to get everyone riled up?
Trust me, they like things just the way they are now.
And by the way, have you ever considered how gloriously hypocritical it is to defend the rights of unborn fetuses and then, once they reach their twenties, to advocate slaughtering them by the thousands in a misguided, unjust, pointless war?
This election day, I reaffirmed a vow to myself.
Although I can do nothing to stop my body from advancing into middle age, I will never let my mind grow old.
I will never let ignorant fear rule my being, causing me to shun anyone who is not “like me.”
I will never lose my hope, my idealism, my sense of outrage at the corrupt and intolerant. I will never become complacent, jaded, and insular.
I will never support the Republican party as it exists today.
But just to show there are no hard feelings, I do have a gift for you — one small token that I offer to you, generously and without reservation.
Hint: It’s a vowel.