If Democrats simply want to win the next election, they may play it safe. Keep riding the GOP’s self-made spiral of unpopularity, hoping that nothing dramatic will happen to mobilize the Republican base. Keep it about “left vs right.” Chip away at the middle-fringe of Karl Rove’s coalition. That seems to be the game plan.
If - on the other hand - our aim is to save America and our civilization, then we have to be more ambitious. Any Democratic presidency in 2009 will almost worthless, if it stays mired in endless “culture war.”
The only way to solve that is to completely repudiate neoconservatism. This monstrous, mutant version of conservatism should not be left in charge of one of America’s major parties, licking its wounds and preparing for a comeback in 2012.
For America’s sake, the next election has to be a blow-out.
* OSTRICH AMMO: Hypocrisy is the Zinger
Top priority must go to shattering Rove’s Big Tent Coalition - by rousing twenty million “Ostrich Republicans.” Like your mostly-decent uncle, who stays glued to Fox News, desperately seeking reassurance that his side has not gone insane. Burying his head in denial, trying not to think about what conservatism has become.
If each of us managed to shake-awake just one or two “ostriches” - to realize their movement has been hijacked by a fanatics and thieves - their anger against the neocons might sear Rove’s Red Alliance down to ashes, ensuring that the next version of conservatism (and there will be one) may be more like Bob Dole and less Joseph Goebbels.
But how does one rouse a stubborn ostrich? As I discuss elsewhere, they are psychologically well-armored and Fox provides rationalizations to mask every individual Bushite travesty. Hence, you’ll need persistence, plus willingness to empathize! Instead of screaming at a strawman image, show your ostriches that you understand their better values - prudence, independence, honesty, fiscal responsibility, real patriotism - and then show forcefully how the neocon/Bush cabal has betrayed them all.
It also helps to shake up their perspective! Make them take a fresh angle. So here’s an approach. Try asking ”What happened to the moral outrage that you once fulminated towards Bill Clinton?”
And then start going down a very long list of thought experiments.
*WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE SAID IF CLINTON HAD....
... sent twelve billion dollars of taxpayer money into a war zone -- as a raw cash, unsupervised slush fund -- and then somehow managed to lose nine billions of it...
(HOW do you “lose” 270 tons of one hundred dollar bills? That’s ninety million $100 bills, or the average monthly mortgage payments of TEN million Americans.)...
...including almost a billion dollars that were “misplaced” by the side of an Iraqi road?
Would you have let Bill Clinton get away with something like that, without a single head rolling, or even a decent explanation?
Self-check: Remember how mad you were over “Whitewater corruption,” amounting to (at most) $80,000? In contrast, are you even curious why George Bush won’t even try to account for TEN THOUSAND times as much?
* HOW WOULD YOU HAVE REACTED IF BILL CLINTON....
...made US taxpayers subsidize a huge, private, mercenary army, controlled by one of his closest liberal-democrat supporters?
...then signed documents making those mercenaries immune from any law, American or foreign?
...then let those mercenaries exonerate themselves from cold-blooded murder, by ghost-writing a “report” under US diplomatic letterhead?
...while also privatizing many more secret groups to perform intelligence-gathering, interrogation, kidnapping and international “operations” without even a figleaf of supervision by the CIA?
...then ruined the effectiveness of one of the best of those groups, by leaking its methods, simply to make a minor political point?
Would you have shrugged all that off, if Bill Clinton had done such things? You, who relished ornate conspiracy theories over the suicide of poor Vince Foster -- how would you have reacted if the Clintons used your taxes to create vast private armies led by fanatic democrats?
You would have let that slide? As “necessary,” just because Commander-in-Chief Clinton said so? Really?
Now substitue “Bush” for “Clinton” and tell us the same.
WOULD IT HAVE ANGERED YOU IF BILL CLINTON...
...canceled the rules requiring that government contracts be awarded by competitive bidding -- (it’s called capitalism) -- and instead granted multibillion dollar sweetheart deals directly to Clinton family friends, free of supervision or auditing? http://tinyurl.com/ysmv96
...used the words “emergency” and “top secret” to conceal those crooked deals?
...hid the fact that each private contractor costs five to ten times as much as a soldier or civil servant, while doing astonishingly shoddy work?
...then appointed “inspectors” to many cabinet departments and Iraq reconstruction agencies, who have no professional qualifications other than longtime political loyalty to Bill Clinton?
(Meanwhile, our troops go without. And regular Iraqis starve.)
...then managed to lose, waste or “misplace” more Iraqi oil each and every day than the UN “Oil For Food Program” did in its entire history? If Clinton had done these things, would you have ignored and excused it all, the way you have for Bush?
* Yes, this is confrontational stuff!
Indeed, it would be a mistake to simply print this out and shove it under an ostrich's nose. They won't read. They'll go ostrich on you!
The most effective approach? Sitting him or her down and reading it to them aloud! Be fair. Listen to replies and defenses. Don’t sneer. Be willing to learn!
But don’t let go. The most persuasive thing about this list is its relentless length! Every rationalization will look thinner and thinner, as you lay down one crime after another.
... Onward to Part II.
(* Added links welcome along with comments.)