Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Getting Real in 2009

2008 will be remembered as the year we, as a nation, slid all the way to the edge of the abyss. 2009 will be defined by whether or not we go over it.

Just thought that, on this day when we're all reflecting, I would clarify things a little.

The national attitude -- on both Left and Right -- worries me. It seems to be, "Well, now we've elected Obama, and it's up to him to save us."

It's up to us -- all of us -- to save ourselves. And it always has been.

Just like Candidate Obama, President Obama will only do what he thinks the voters want him to do. He has not been elected King, and he certainly isn't a superhero.

I don't care how many gays, or women, or Blacks, or Latinos he has in his cabinet. Nor do I care who he gets to pray at his inauguraton. I care about what he does afterwards. I care how his administration impacts our lives in the years to come.

That's where WE come in. He will do what we tell him to. IF we vote, and work hard at the grassroots, and continue to make our voices heard.

Slavery existed, as an institution in this country, for three hundred years. This was because the people permitted it. When enough of them got tired of it, they got rid of it. Lincoln's help was, indeed, invaluable when the moment came. But the moment came because the people (or at least enough of them) decided that they were ready for it.

Progressives will always be in the minority. We've just spent a year commemorating the Democratic National Convention of 1968. What was that all about? Hello -- the conservatives held all the power, and they tried to keep the progressives out in the cold.

Those who gripe about this situation now (and I have been guilty of this myself) are forgetting history. This situation is not new. In '68, the people depended too much on the outcome of the election, and when Nixon came in, they let the movement stall.

Hello again -- what can we learn from that?

No matter who had been nominated by the Democrats that year, or who had been elected, I'm afraid the story would have been pretty much the same. IF we, the people, had continued to change hearts and minds, we could have transformed the country (even more than we did) from the grassroots up.

Riots and temper-tantrums do not change things in any positive way. They are the actions of those resigned to being on the outside, and they GUARANTEE that those people will stay there. These are nothing more than a form of terrorism, and like terrorism, they bring nothing but grief -- and guarantee further powerlessness.

We are displeased with the selection of Rick Warren to pray at Obama's inauguration, and we should be. The President-Elect knows that now. Let's see what he does with that knowledge, and let's make sure he does the right thing with it.

If he doesn't deliver for progressives over the next four years, I will vote next time for somebody else. I don't care if he or she is a Democrat or a member of the New Turnip Party. Let's be inside that party convention hall four years from now -- and inside of the Republicans', too. Let's study '68, figure out why we were left outside, and work to change that. And by all means, let's begin in '09.

Had it been up to those running the Republican Party today, we would still have slavery in this country. The progressives have been shut out of the Party of Lincoln, too.

A hundred and fifty years ago, progressives refused to be silent. On Election Day 2008, we also demanded to be heard. But now we're sitting passively back again and hanging on every word out of our new messiah's mouth.

Well, I have only one Messiah, and He is Jesus Christ. I am a progressive because Christ was a progressive. No matter how loudly and persistently the Right-Wingers slander us, they cannot change the fact that this is true.

Let us resolve, together, that we will not sit down, we will not shut up, we will not go away, and we will not succumb to the helplessness of impotent rage. Let us resolve, here and now, that we will stand up, we will speak out, we will stick around and we will fight our battles from the inside -- where we rightfully belong.

If we don't, then not only our country, but our civilization will be over.

We belong at the grownups' table. We belong inside the convention hall. We belong inside the voting booth, as well. The Obama people are already looking ahead to 2012. But we voted once, and we must vote again.

Let's make 'em deal with 2009 first. This year was the year we halted our mad rush to destruction. Let's make next year the year we begin to turn it all around.

Let's get real in 2009.


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