I just returned from a fundraiser for a local pol or, let me rephrase, I just walked out five minutes after I walked in. I dropped my sizable check and drove home, sans crudités and wine. Nothing to do with the guest of honor, everything to do with the exchange I had with a long-time progressive activist, someone I admire and respect a great deal. Yes, it was about her reaction to The Debate.
“I’ve never been a huge Obama fan, I voted for Hillary,” she reminded me, “and I was upset that people felt it was more important to elect the first African-American than the first woman. But I got over it, and it seemed like the right thing in the end. But after the debate, I’m really reconsidering. I think we made a mistake. I really do.” Her tone was all “I told you so” in that confidential self-satisfied way that Democrats reserve for such moments.
The other woman in our little circle of chat then brought up today’s Pew Poll—a snapshot of Romney’s bounce that excludes Obama’s lead from both before and after the debate—and shook her head in dismay. I realized I was about to be trapped in a pity party, and decided I should drop my check in the basket and slip out the door before I climbed up on the bar to shout “How ’bout those jobs numbers, people?”
I am not going to make excuses for the president’s poor performance. I am as disappointed as the next person. But it is our response to this incident that disturbs me.
What do the Republicans do (ahem, the conservatives, or is it the tea party? anyway, the other party) when their candidate makes a gaffe, a misstep, a fool of himself? When the headlines are not going their way? They say the polls are skewed, the numbers are fixed, the media is biased, climate change is a hoax, he’s really a conservative, he’s really a moderate, he’s really…whatever we need him to be. And they keep working to elect Republicans, no matter what.
I am not saying that making excuses for bullshit is the proper course. I’m saying that the Republicans understand the game, keep the long view, and don’t get hung up on personality cults—at least until the person in question is long-dead and can be properly reformatted, like Reagan. Their objective is to elect Republicans, and they don’t let the flaws of their candidates distract them. (Have you seen them fall in line behind Todd Akin—Mr. Legitimate Rape—for instance? Can I get an OMFG?)
Their objective is to elect Republicans. They do not let anything get in their way.
In this one area, they are quite rooted in reality.
Democrats, on the other hand—or rather “progressives” who have the highest of principals and no pragmatic strategy to accomplish whatever long view they might have—withdraw their support in dismay when the politician du jour does not live up to their perfectionist standards every minute of every day. Like my friend at the fundraiser, they’d rather be right than to win.
I do believe in principles, and I have some.
I believe the electoral system in the patriarchal imperialist corporatocracy that we call the USA is wholly inadequate to accomplish the radical feminist utopia of my dreams and my ambitions.
I believe many women and men have fought and died for my right to vote.
I believe there is more human suffering under Republicans and less under Democrats.
I believe the ultimate goal of the current “Republican Party” is a theocracy for the masses and an invitation-only skybox for the Chosen.
I believe Barack Obama is, without question, the best president in my lifetime—and that starts with Eisenhower.
I believe the first term of Barack Obama will prove to be a time of historic advances for progressive, liberal, and even radical values, and I spend not an insignificant amount of time daydreaming about what might happen with a second term, and a Democratic House and Senate.
Therefore, even when Barack Obama fails to satisfy my need to publically kick Mitt Romney’s ass during one particular 90-minute infotainment episode, I remember that my mother needs Medicaid, and I need for my country to not send combat-weary men and women to Iran. Or Syria. Or Turkey. Or [FILL IN THE BLANK].
Barack Obama is a Democrat. We need Democrats. We can negotiate with Democrats.
The Republicans cannot win this election, they can only buy it or steal it.
But they cannot rig a landslide. Now is the time to get out the vote.
Channel your angst, your whining, your “I wish we’d nominated Hillary” superiority, into the next 28 days of getting out the vote for all the Democrats in your state. Believe me, Obama may have disappointed you at the debate, but you have never in your life seen a ground game like this. He believes in organizing communities to participate in democracy, and he’s making sure we have every opportunity to do so, and to help our neighbors do so.
So occupy a f#*king voting booth.
Then meet me in the streets on November 7th.