Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The New John Kerry: A Rant

I stole this quote from corrente:

"[KERRY:]George Bush is running on the same old Republican tactics of fear — and they're already getting tired," he said. "It's clear that this president will fight like hell to keep his own job, but he won't lift a finger to help Americans keep theirs."

How do you feel reading it? This is what I felt: A warm wave of recognition and joy spread through my body, an impish delight at righteous anger played out tickled my laughing nerves and I found myself shouting "YES! YES!" at the startled snakes still half-asleep. Am I proud of these reactions? Well, yes, but then I'm not bound by the Christian rule of having to keep on turning the other cheek.

Republicans have been hammering away at us poor liberals for over a decade, and we've met this with self-examination and conscience raising sessions and carefully reasoned attempts at compromises. More hammering away, more attempts to remain cordial and polite and so on. The end result: "liberal" is now such a dirty word that it will no doubt soon be banned from all airwaves in this country, civil rights have become "special privileges", anyone daring to speak out for the poor or the oppressed is ridiculed as politically incorrect, and the people on welfare are called piglets at the nipples of the government sow while the Enron crooks gently slide into obscurity. Any war is pre-emptive self-defense, and the country is in furor over "death taxes" which affected less than one percent of all estates. We have given away much of our rights to privacy in exchange for security, but instead of security we get...more fear.

It would be nice to run politics as a civilized form of cooperation and compromise, but such endeavors take at least two willing participants. The Republicans have not been willing participants in anything for donkey's years (or rather, elephant's years) and ultimately even a kind, sensitive liberal runs out of cheeks to turn. Then the rabbit roars ( to really mix my animal metaphors).

And what will the Republicans say about all this? Let me guess, without even looking for a link to prove it. They will accuse Kerry of negative campaigning and the Democrats of nasty language and Hitleresque demagogy. They will raise their innocent eyebrows and shrug their innocent shoulders, as if to suggest that the sudden liberal anger is inexplicable, uncouth, nay, even un-American. Why do they hate America so?

Then they will point out that what we should really be concerned at is the fear that's lurking in the shadows, the fear that's made us silent and cooperative so far, the fear that can only be defeated by going on as we've done so far. What they don't tell us is that it's perfectly ok to change direction when you are heading straight down the cliff, it's even perfectly ok to change drivers of a vehicle that's careening out of control.

I've had it with fear, and I hope that John Kerry has had it with courtesy and manners until a little bit later in the election battles. First he needs to light the lanterns, only then can the light that they spread be celebrated.