Thursday, November 04, 2004

Blue...And Proud Of It

The press says that Bush now has a mandate.

But what does a 51%/48% vote really mean? Of course, we've already read many conservatives claiming it as a mandate, or worse. Here's what one popular blogger has written:

"This is a decisive moment in American history. There’s no denying this fact. The nation stood at the crossroads yesterday and the people choose to go the right way. They rejected the Democrat Party and the pernicious things that those people stand for."

Here's another letter writer sending an email to Andrew Sullivan's popular Republican/Libertarian blog:

"I wonder if you noticed that yesterday all eleven states that considered the question of gay marriage voted to ban it. ALL ELEVEN. I think this sends a very clear message -- true Americans do not like your kind of homosexual deviants in our country, and we will not tolerate your radical pro-gay agenda trying to force our children to adopt your homosexual lifestyle. You should be EXTREMELY GRATEFUL that we even let you write a very public and influential blog, instead of suppressing your treasonous views (as I would prefer). But I'm sure someone like yourself would consider me just an "extremist" that you don't need to worry about. Well you are wrong -- I'm not just an extremist, I am a real American, and you should be worried because eleven states yesterday proved that there are millions more just like me who will not let you impose your radical agenda on our country."

So, quite obviously, we are not dealing with gracious winners here. The vindictiveness and hate that "red" America feels for "blue" America is not going to be slaked by this victory. Quite the contrary, it seems that they will see this as a validation to become even more extreme, even more partisan, and even more intolerant and vile to those who don't share their views.

Perhaps this is why most people I spoke with in New York yesterday were severely depressed. This article pretty much sums up the entire mood, as far as I can tell, on both coasts:

A Blue City (Disconsolate, Even) Bewildered by a Red America

I was depressed too. It was as if a close relative to all of us had died. What was that relative? Hope. Hope that we could persuade our neighbors to, if not completely see our cause, at least engage us in our ideas. Hope that we could find common ground. Hope that the "common sense" views of our issues - or at least, the most "obvious" of our issues: respect for equal treatment, respect for human rights, REAL protection of our citizens rather than bluster, fear, and dissembling - were indeed important issues. Respectful people can certainly respectfully disagree about how to improve the economy or conduct the war in Iraq. But those of us who supported Kerry, I think, felt that there were other values, more important obvious human values (such as not rounding up citizens and torturing them, or not appealing to outright prejudice to win an election), that this Administration had violated, and needed to be held accountable for. But listening to these denizens of the right give us the raspberry, of course we are depressed. Depressed that today it seems that America has stood up and embraced the values of contempt, fear, and loathing over discourse and humanity.

But we shouldn't be depressed for long. We are like fans of a great sports team that just lost the Series by 4 to 5. Of course that's depressing. But it doesn't mean that we are alone in our values. It doesn't mean that the 3% of Americans who gave Bush his mandate necessarily approve of this Administration's conduct. And we must pick ourselves up off the floor and get back into the fight. And there are many things to keep in mind in this fight:

1. We have demographics on our side. The under 30 group embraces our values and see what we see. Four more years of a rightward shift and a Republican dominated country will bring more young people into a liberal mindset. These next years really could be the final gasp of the cycle of hate and prejudice. Sometimes you really have to experience pain to feel the turnover.

2. I know that we all expected this "swing back" to happen in this cycle. It didn't. These things take time. After all, we suffered a dramatic attack AFTER Bush was elected, and he has astutely played the constant war/endless fear card for the last two years to keep a solid majority behind him no matter what. But this era won't last forever. We already now have an active anti-war movement, a mobilized youth culture, straight people supporting rights of gay couples. That's what we've achieved in just a couple of years. We will achieve even more coalition building and value shifting over the next four. Our issues will only come forward even more

3. There IS a culture war in this country. But we are not loosing. In fact, we have the upper hand. The so-called "blue" states give twice as much money to the Federal government as the "red" states. Red states receive twice as much money back.

Blue states create the culture that Red states consume and complaign about.

Blue states lead the innovations that provide jobs to Red state complainers and bigots.

Blue states have many influental churches, synagogues, mosques, and secularists who are spiritual, outspoken, and active supporters of equal rights, scientific research, and economic justice, and who can go one-on-one with those who use the Bible to bash minorities and sow fear.

So what if Blue states have more in common with Europe and European values than the rest of Red America? We can be proud of that. We belong to the rest of the civilized world. We are part of a first world democratic culture that believes in progress, human rights, diversity, and accountability. Let Red-state America have it's Taliban-like fundamentalism. Let them fall into line with the Fundamentalist war against our shining cities, our beacons of Democracy, creativity and hope - our New York's and L.A., Chicago's and San Francisco's. Our cities are on the right side of history and will prevail against Fundamentalists at home and abroad.

It's time to wake up, Blue States. We are the economic engine of this country. We control the innovation, the ideas, and the purse books. We are the heart and the engine of America. We are America's spiritual soul. It's time to stop financing the red-state lopsided sense of values. Cut them off. It's time we do everything we can to strip Red states of their subsidies, their government financing. It's time that Blue states directed more money to themselves and kept their money from the Federal government. It's time we stop making "bland" culture and let our entertainment tell it like it really is. It's time we take a principled, spiritual stand against war-mongering and hate, and excommunicate these sinners from our churches. It's time we unite with our European brothers and form our own international alliances against international fascism and fundamentalism everywhere. It's time we stop using Red-state labor to support our factories, telecom companies, and financial industries when we can find cheaper labor with partners overseas who support our values.

We need to bleed them till they cry! That's OUR mandate over the next four years. Let's start spreading this word. Stop financing and accomodating the values we detest.

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