The wails of despair from progressive friends began pouring through my telephone very early on Nov. 3: "What are we going to do? What ARE we going to do? We'll have to move to Canada. I can't go another four years. It's so much to bear. I give up."
Get a grip.
Yes, the Bushites are back, and yes, it's going to be a miserable four years of grueling battles as they push their agenda of more war, more right-wing appointments to the courts, more giveaways to corporate power, more pollution, more cuts in public services, more assaults on Social Security, more secrecy, more shredding of our liberties, more... well, more Bush.
But, give up? Give up the fight for our essential American values -- the values of fairness, justice and opportunity for all? Surrender our nation's historic possibilities to these ideological zealots and corporate front men? Not a chance.
What are we going to do? Fight back, that's what! First, recognize that we're fighting from strength and that we're tantalizingly close to winning. Forty-nine percent of voters not only were with us in this election, but strongly with us -- including more than 60 percent of young voters. Our grassroots organizing this time was stupendous, giving us new expertise, tools and outreach to keep advancing -- and you can count on the Bushites to give this year's non-voters and wary Bush voters more and more reasons to get active with us.
Second, recognize that fighting for democracy is a long-haul proposition. It took decades for America's founders to build enough public support to break with England. Likewise, the abolitionists, suffragists, populists, labor, civil rights and other movements didn't achieve their historic successes on their first outing -- and it'll require the same perseverance on our part.
Too much too bear? We've just begun to lift our country up. As Willie Nelson says, "The early bird might get the worm, but it's the second mouse that gets the cheese." Onward!
Publication date: 11/11/04