I’d like to offer that well-intended warning to the Democrats, who have been on the other side of so many Republican Jackass-worthy stunts that they might be tempted to try a few themselves. Oh newly powerful Dems, heed my caution: Do not attempt this at home!
And by home I mean the House… or the Senate or in front of cameras. Yes, you’ll have an appetite for revenge and we’ll need at least a little of that to power up such things as the prosecution of Halliburton. But what concerns me is that certain templates have unfortunately taken hold as the way of things with American government. The Dems must resist pleasing others by becoming copycats of their former Republican oppressors.
Make Schools, Not War
The Democrats have a two-part job with Iraq. One is to stop the flow of American blood there, period. While pursuing that, there’s also a job of turning around the “let’s go kick their ass!” head set that Bush/Cheney exploited after 9/11 in their quest for oil. America is powerful, and our troops are brave. But war itself is a wasteful and tragic human pursuit, not an ancillary to NFL football. The Democrats must not try war again, especially with invasions that play as news channel entertainment.
As the Iraq conflict changes in nature, Democrats must also be unafraid of spending that ensures all of the proper medical and other benefits returning Iraq soldiers deserve. Do not copy the Republicans in handing out tax breaks while military families figure out how to live.
Show Us the Priorities
In order to clearly fix priorities, the Dems must help Americans sort out priorities. This might be expressed, bluntly, as, “Dead soldiers don’t care about gay marriage.” It was criminal that Bush spent time stirring up gay marriage voodoo while he was killing our best and brightest in an oil war. But this was their lone talent: distraction. The Dems must not take the bait on issues that do not prioritize correctly. The most important civil right an American has is to not die in a poorly conceived military operation.
Lies Are Lies, Not News
Take the fact that the media is, from whatever angle, helping O.J. sell his new book and TV special, and you can deduce that the Dems must not trust the media to keep lies out of the political dialogue. The Swift Boats, if you will, are still out there…cruising. The Dems must not respond to dirt with dirt, but rather with truth and facts. They can’t play their version of Rush Limbaugh’s trash talk propaganda and hope to win. The truth will come out, but only if it’s deployed.
Not Us vs. Them, Just Us
The Republicans so bent our antennas that we still, many of us, feel it’s us versus them. It’s not: Now it’s just us. The Dems must use every opportunity to bring back the simple notion of one America, not several. This healing will not occur overnight, but it will be important to constantly use the right words. Don’t talk about “them,” talk about all of us. Don’t be photographed sipping champagne with Barbra Streisand; visit schools and have a look at the plumbing. And for the love of God, stop appearing on Saturday Night Live. Just keep in mind that things got so bad, Bush forgot that New Orleans was part of America.
This becomes doubly important as America’s class divides becomes more overt. The airlines are now talking about mergers that could ultimately lead to excluding average income citizens from air travel. The battle for public schools continues as America’s wealthy give aid and comfort to schools that are exclusionary by definition. If we all pledge allegiance, then let’s remember that right after “United States of America” are the words “One nation….”