(Carolyn: “Thanks for that. I went to a talk with some of the members of the Palestinian delegation to the UN. When they were asked what they thought of the President’s veto, they said they want him to do whatever he has to do to remain in power.” Isn’t that great? To have a firm friend of Israel who also has the respect of the Palestinians? Maybe peace can be achieved one of these days after all.)
With the full and final repeal of Don’t Ask / Don’t Tell yesterday, and a long list of other items, even my most skeptical friends are now beginning to accept that the President has delivered impressive progress on equality, with more to come if he gets a second term.
Similar lists of accomplishments can be compiled for – among others – women, environmentalists, students, and anyone who’s a member of the middle class.
Even so, some of our friends are disappointed.
What should we tell them?
1. Mitt Romney’s co-chair for Supreme Court picks is Robert Bork. And to get the nomination, Romney would have to make the same deal with religious right Bush did. (Perry, obviously, would be even worse.)
So if we lose next year, we’d likely lose one-third of the government for a generation.
Wait . . . that may just discourage them more.
But it’s really important for everyone to know, because THIS third of our government decides things like Citizens United and Bush v Gore that determine who gets to run the world. And things like women’s reproductive rights and separation of church and state.
Had a single vote flipped in the 5-4 Florida recount decision, there would have been no war in Iraq, no trillion-dollar deficits, no near-Depression – and no Roberts or Alito to tilt the Court further right.
As discouraging as an 18-month delay in the imposition of tougher ozone regulations is – and it is! – as discouraging as the failure of a showcased solar power start-up is – and it is! (though see below) – they’re not worth losing the Court over because we got too demoralized to fight.
2. If we DON’T become too demoralized to fight, WE’RE GOING TO WIN!
For one thing, most voters agree with us. They LIKE Social Security. They DON’T want to pay an extra $6,000 a year under Paul Ryan’s privatized Medicare plan. They AGREE millionaires should lose their Bush tax cuts. They WANT to see investment in infrastructure and cops kept on the streets.
For another, the Tea Party is not popular. It may have captured the Republican Party, but it ranks 24th – out of 24 – dead last – behind Jews (#6), gays (#17), atheists (#22), and Sarah Palin (#23).
For a third, we know how to do this. The same team that quarterbacked Obama’s improbable nomination in 2008 is back at the helm – and very much aware of the changed realities. While the Republicans are hard at work tearing each other down, we are hard at work laying the groundwork for an enormous effort. I just got back from Chicago where two things were really heartening: I saw some of the plans, which take 2008 to a whole new level; and I sensed the determination – which is fierce.
3. NOW is the time to help. An organizer we hire now – and we’ve already hired hundreds – has time to recruit, train, and inspire TEAM LEADERS who have time to recruit, train, and inspire TEAM MEMBERS, who have time to recruit, train, and inspire VOLUNTEERS (actually, they’re all volunteers, except for that first $35,000 organizer) who have time to knock on tens of thousands of doors, register new voters, assist existing voters overcome newly erected Republican obstacles (like obtaining photo IDs) and, collectively, turn out millions of incremental votes. And remember: those are votes for President but also, once they’re in the booth, for Senate, House, and everything else. These are votes our team would otherwise not get. These are votes we can’t get if we wait until next fall.
This work is absolutely the most leveraged way to tip the odds in our favor. We need to fund it.
Are we going to be like the Republicans? They just close their eyes to the perils of climate change rather than act to avert it. In our case, the immediate peril is a bad result in 2012. Will our discouraged friends – out of admirable idealism – not act to avert it?
And that’s the fourth of the three things we need to tell our discouraged friends:
4. There are two kinds of idealists. As argued here a few days ago, the TRUE idealist is the one who does what he or she has to to advance his or her ideals (perhaps call him or her the “practical idealist”) whereas the TRAGIC idealist is tremendously well motivated but – by refusing to make the hard choices and accept the distasteful compromises – sets his cause back horribly.
That’s what Nader did. By ignoring all his friends and advisors – who begged him to tell swing-state voters to vote for Gore – he dealt the world an unintentional but disastrous blow. If that’s idealism, I want no part of it.
Those who, out of idealism, fail this year – this month – to throw their full energy and resources into our effort are Karl Rove’s dream idealists.
It’s HARD to be enthusiastic when times are so tough. And it’s hard to accept compromise.
But it’s somewhat easier if your friends allow themselves to consider the GOOD stuff. This Administration averted a depression, restored America’s standing in the world, launched an educational “race to the top,” doubled fuel-efficiency standards, extended health insurance to 30 million people, preserved the social safety net, seeded potentially game-changing alternative energy start-ups, killed Bin Laden, appointed two progressive Justices, reformed student loans, created a consumer financial protection bureau, regulated tobacco, advanced LGBT equality . . . and on and on. It’s a very long list.
It’s also somewhat easier to be enthusiastic if your friends dig down for “the other side of the story.” In the case of the Solyndra solar bankruptcy, for example, there’s a lot the media hasn’t reported. Often what we hear is overly negative — whether it comes from the Tea Party or even, sometimes, from our own team.
All that said, it IS hard to be enthusiastic. We should all respect that.
But, as I also recently argued here, it’s not as hard as spending a winter, shoeless, at Valley Forge.