As many of my fellow Americans, I’ve been distressed over the results of the election. It’s not so much that Bush is going to be in power again, but more because Americans have voluntarily (as far as we can tell) put him there. What can we do now? Well, I’ll tell you what we cannot do. We cannot lie down and let the Republicans continue to run over us. The Democrats in office cannot cooperate with the Republicans to pass Republican legislation. We might be demoralized, but now is not the time to roll over. Now is the time to fight back.
We have just witnessed the birth of the Angry Democrat. For too long Republicans have dismissed anything a Democrat says as “too liberal” and thus not worth paying attention to. In a recent interview, Dick Cheney was asked to respond to criticism from a “liberal” newspaper about Bush’s policies. His response? Well, the newspaper has never been friendly to him. That’s it. Because the paper was critical, that meant he didn’t have to listen to it. Instead of actually having a real dialogue with America, all he has to do is dismiss it.
It’s time for us to change our ways. We will not change our values because the Republicans tell us they’re unpopular. Our values are not unpopular, they just haven’t been heard lately.
It’s time for us to use labels too. “Kerry’s a ‘flip-flopper’” was much more effective than “Bush’s policies in Iraq have caused the war to go on longer than blah blah blah.” Republicans have even turned “liberal” into a dirty word. So, how about if from now on, those who don’t “approve” of homosexual lifestyles are “bigots.” Those who don’t care about those struggling to provide for their family are “heartless.” Those who think racism doesn’t exist nowadays, that minorities themselves cause their circumstances, are “racists.” Those who don’t care about the rest of the world are “xenophobics.” Those who believe the market will solve everything are “delusional.”
We know these things: It’s right to be open to other cultures. We must help people to provide for their families. We need allies in the world. People should have civil rights. The Constitution is not something to ignore. We’d better have damn good intelligence in order to go into war. Completely unregulated, we’d have sweatshops in America. Health care shouldn’t be just a privilege. The minimum wage is not a living wage. We cannot sacrifice individual or human rights because of fear. It’s wrong to detain anyone indefinitely without trial. It’s wrong to start a war for political gain. Religion should not control government. Government should not control religion. And, we know that bombing people doesn’t make them love us. Why be defensive about what we know is true?
When the Democrats filibuster a judicial nominee, the correct response is not that the Republicans did it during the Clinton administration, so it’s OK. The correct response is that the Republicans are trying to put a wacko on the bench. They are trying to appoint someone who doesn’t care about the Constitution.
Sure, it’s aggressive, but that’s what works. People aren’t persuaded by someone who doesn’t appear 100 percent confident in his/her views. Sure, it’s good to be open-minded. I pride myself on being open-minded too. But be open-minded in consideration, not presentation. It’s all about confidence.
Much of the news coverage in the aftermath of the election has focused on “moral issues.” Does this mean the Democrats should start adopting some of those beliefs? No! In many cases, “moral issues” is a euphemism for “intolerance.”
Some Democrats believe that if they don’t go along with supporting a ban on gay marriage, it’ll be political suicide. This is just wrong. It is political suicide not to speak up, to abandon your values of equality just because they appear less popular. They are only less popular because no one is making the case. People are for equality in theory, but they need someone to speak to them about equality in fact.
We need political leaders to stand up against this intolerance and bigotry, and call it what it is. If they speak out strongly for equality and freedom, people will see these things as important, and start to rethink their “values.”
It’s time for America to come together? On whose terms? We have taken a beating from Republicans over the past 10 years, and it’s time to fight back. It’s time to stop defending, and start attacking. It’s time for fiery rhetoric. It’s time for us all to get out there and tell Republicans that their dictatorship is over. Our government is supposed to represent the people, not just Republicans. And it’s about time we let them know that.
Charles Mikesell is a law student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.