Where will you be on November second? Where will you be in the days leading up to November second? Are you disappointed? Are you angry? Are you staying home? Are you insane?
Look - I get it. I really do. You were promised a unicorn and all you got was this lousy reform. I'd be pissed too. And now we're all collectively so pissed that we've decided to learn 'em a lesson. Our absence at the polling places will sure teach them. Our absence will teach them that we're fickle and self-absorbed and that the only way to win is to pander mercilessly to the lowest common denominator, to pretend that you're one of us and that you feel our pain and that, if elected, you'll immediately fix all of those things that you've been telling us so long bother us so much that we're about ready to start believing you. And then where will we be?
Remember the neocons? They thought they could reshape the world through wishful thinking and anger into a funnel that siphoned money away from we the people to them the plutocrats in exchange for a mere few hundred thousand human lives. Small price to pay when it's not your life, right? You thought they were bad, these jingoists, these hate filled white men in their -sometimes literal - ivory towers? You thought it was bad having to listen to the nonsensical justifications of men who would sell their mother for a juicy no-bid government contract? You thought it was torture listening to once-respected news outlets explaining why torture isn't torture?
Just wait until you see what's around the corner. Here comes the new class of Republicans and they're nothing like the old class. Oh no. They're so much worse. These new republicans. This newest branch on the evolutionary tree of wrongness doesn't even think they need to justify their wrongs. They are proud of their ignorance - proclaiming that our nation is a Christian one and that health care is an impossible burden and claiming that the rich deserve to be richer and that the poor deserve to starve. They demand that we spend, spend, spend on our military and on our failed wars and on our commercial incarceration factories, but they claim that we can't afford human compassion. They claim that we can't possibly find a way to care for our elders, our sick. That we can't teach our children. That we can't welcome our neighbors. That we can't trust. Can't give. Can't love. No we can't!
They demand accountability from the Democrats for the hideous wrongs the Republicans have inflicted upon us and the world over the last decades. They demand respect where none is due and deny respect well earned. They turn the world on its head every time they open their mouths. They claim that Democrats are spendthrift and Republicans are fiscally responsible even as they spend us into bankruptcy every time we give them the checkbook. They claim that we want government control where they want liberty even as they try to tell us where we can build our houses of worship and who we can wed and whether we become mothers and fathers.
Over and over we fall for it. The easily influenced are influenced and the sane are demotivated because we don't have our unicorns yet. And time and time again they take the finger, then the hand, then the arm, then the body, then the soul. They eat at us from the inside, making us so cynical that we can't distinguish between good and bad and so jaded we don't care. They make us believe that it can't get better. It can only get worse slower.
And now they stand at the brink of an epic victory - a refutation of human values and dignity that will echo through the ages. They will defeat us so soundly we will be afraid ever again to raise our voices - ever again to hope. Their misery will become everybody's misery. Their self-destructiveness will become the rule of the land once again. Government will be gridlocked for years just as we face our greatest challenges in a lifetime and down we will spiral into the long night. And they will crow victory.
Unless we win. Unless we stand up and we fight. Unless we decide once and for all to reject the self-defeating rhetoric and create an environment where ideas can flourish and knowledge is held in the esteem it deserves and where we all know that we can win because we must.
We've been here before. We've won victories that with the gift of hindsight seem hollow. Sometimes it seems that every time we win we lose. Granted, politics are cyclical, but this isn't politics. This isn't even class war. This is survival. We must break the downward spiral and the only way to do that is to wrench away power from those who live for nothing else. Every time we win, we lose. We try to change the world and get caught up in the rhetoric of those who don't want anyone to win. The fearmongers grow rich over the backs of the disgruntled and the hopeless and they will never be sated.
Two years ago we stood at a crossroads. We chose overwhelmingly to wrest the baton of power from those who had abused it so cravenly. Now we have to decide whether we're going to let them take it back. We have to decide whether we should punish ourselves because the people we put into power didn't do enough to make our lives better. We need to decide whether we should stay home in protest of lack of progress, whether we should withhold our wholehearted support from those whose motives, while perhaps not entirely pure, are not utterly craven.
Who would learn a lesson from that? What would the lesson be? That we deserve to fail? That not enough progress is worse than no progress? That no progress is worse than regress? That up is down and black is white and hate is love?
We stand at a crossroads again. And we stand to lose a lot. But we stand to gain a lot too. We're not up against politicians any more. Our democracy stopped being a two party system years ago. The other party gave up. Now they're playing dirty. They're circumventing the people and going straight to our employers. They're trying to buy and lie their way into power and they're running on nothing. We've already defeated the Republicans. Now we're up against the fanatics. The crazies. We're up against people who plainly don't care if they tear the country apart, so long as they get their way. We're up against the people who don't care if they're wrong, so long as we pretend they're right.
In one week we can break them. We have the opportunity to wipe out these last vestiges of a failed system. We're up against the dregs here; people who, were it not for a media system that thrives on controversy and failure, would not get the time of day. We're up against people who think science is evil and people who think we should undo centuries of progress for the sake of purity.
It's not even a stretch. We don't need to change the world in a week. We just need to do our duty. We need to speak up. We need to be proud of our values. We need to be eloquent in our defense of them. We need to be convincing and unflinching and generous with our time and our money.
We must hold the line. This is their final charge. They've mustered all the crazy. They've resorted to open racism, religious intolerance, jingoism, and bigotry. They've played every card they have. This is their final gambit. If we hold the line we break them once and for all. If we hold the line we can start building a future for ourselves and our progeny.
Who knows? Maybe we'll end up in a world where our political choices are sane - a world where we can choose between different goods, rather than constantly fighting against stupidity and failure and ignorance.
But first we most hold the line.