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Democrats … Start Doing it for Yourselves

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
House Minority Leader

Dear Congresswoman Pelosi:

I recently received a mailer from you that included the following text:

>> Dear Friend … why don’t you take the enclosed George W. Bush Disapproval Poll and use it to me me how high (I doubt it) or low President Bush ranks with you. It’s your chance to tell me exactly what you think of the 43rd President. If you give George W. Bush grades of A or B, then I have bad news: First, you are a Republican. Second, you are going to be on the losing side of history. BUT … if you give George W. Bush C’s, D’s or F’s then you are a true-blue Democrat and I urge you to join us in our fight to hold the line against President Bush’s radical agenda and begin laying the groundwork for victory in the 2006 mid-term election … <<

I would like to offer you my thoughts on this effort of the National Democratic Committee.

I am in fact what most would consider to be a “true-blue Democrat”. I don’t think there’s any doubt of that. For 22 years I have voted a straight Democratic ticket. However, I find myself having a great deal of trouble believing what you say, despite my inclination to give more credence to junk-mailers who at least pretend to be on my political wavelength. Your message sent up a number of warning flags, I must admit.

To start with, “History” is written not by those who are right, but by those who are in power. What determines the “losing” side of history is what the “winners” determine the opposite side from their own. At this juncture, I’m not too sure that the “losing” side is going to be written in a manner pleasing to “Democrats” for quite some time. Why? Because the problem is not just that George W. Bush is doing wrong. Although I agree there is a lot of wrong-doing going on.

The problem, as I see it, is that giving George W. Bush a “failing” grade on this poll doesn’t make me a true-blue Democrat, as much as it makes me a complete and total IDIOT. Because I appear to be supporting a political party that has no vision of their own, that has not been too effective in countering these horrible policies, that is afraid of being called un-American for fighting a fascist-leaning, right-wing, neo-conservative agenda. A party that has no plan of their own, except to tell me what’s wrong with the other guy’s plan. That has in essence conceded that morality, right, truth, justice and the American Way are the property of the Republicans, and has contented itself with whining and bitching that those damn “righty-tighties” are just misusing those properties differently than a Democrat might misuse them if given the opportunity. What line exactly are “we Democrats” holding? And what good does it do to hold some imaginary line when there are so few of our so-called representatives that are willing to stand up for what they claim their constituents stand for? Further, for all these issues where George W. and his radicalized cronies have forced their way upon the unsuspecting American public, where have the Democrats been? In short, what good are they?

I’d like to see some groundwork, Congresswoman Pelosi. As you state in your letter, even though the right-wing doesn’t have one, I’d like to see a platform that unites, instead of divides. I’d like to see the Democratic Party come up with such a platform, and stick with it. I don’t think anyone can claim sole right to morality and doing the right thing. And surely, the 80% of people in the USA that claim some affiliation with Christianity (and the other 20% that follow equally valid and morally-based religions, whether Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Wiccan, Sikh, Shinto, Zoroastrian, Druid, Bah’ai or even Atheism) can’t be all Republicans. And Republicans aren’t the only ones capable of girding themselves with the mantle of the self-righteous … what about a little Democratic righteous indignation now and again? I can’t think of a better time that right now.

To be frank with you, Congresswoman, I’m disgusted with the political process. I’m disgusted with voting Democrat just because it seems like the lesser of two evils. I’d like to be able to vote, with a clear conscience and sense of accomplishment, for something worth believing in. Something that the big party Democrats are willing to state, in public, they believe in, too. Something, and a serious set of someones who are not straw dogs, but actual contenders. But remember, there’s not much point in picking who we’re going to travel with until we’ve figured out where we are going. The journey dictates the skills we’ll need, and not visa versa. So please, give us a something before trying to foist off another glad-handing someone in a suit more expensive than the average Democrat’s income can afford.

Just a suggestion: if you want a Presidential candidate to be elected “by the people”, you’ve got to be “for the people”, and whoever you put on that ballot had better be “of the people”. Not Democratic leadership people. Not Beltway Brotherhood people. Not “because anything is better than a Republican” people.

Don’t worry. I’ll keep voting Democrat until I die. However, I’m sick of knowing that underneath the surface, regardless of which candidate I choose, the bottom line doesn’t change for me, nor for millions of others who seemingly cast their votes in a seeming maelstrom of futility. After that, watching the few Democratic candidates who DO make it into office only wring their hands and cry, “oh, those neo-cons are ruining the country” is decidedly anti-climactic. And discouraging.

The bottom line is that George W. Bush’s F looks like an A to most people, and that’s why they voted for him. That occurred only because in order to give ourselves any kind of excuse for what either party is doing, the American People have been forced to grade on a curve. And the sad truth is that neither the Republicans or Democrats deserve to pass the class.

Feel free to use any part of this letter you wish to improve the Democratic Party.


John Litzenberg
New Orleans, LA

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Bonzo’s Bedtime

I don’t want to say anything about Ronald Reagan. I have kept my mouth shut for two days now on the subject. But amidst the feeding frenzy on both the left and right that still is going on (the left to destroy the mythos by rediscovering history, and the right to destroy history by rediscovering the mythos), I feel it necessary to interject a little something.

First: Ronald Reagan was a man I appreciated as an actor only slightly more cardboard than Rock Hudson, whose prediliction for sentimentalism turned my stomach. As an actor, he lacked the physical charm of Burt Lancaster, the inner struggle of Gary Cooper, the sense of irony of Gregory Peck, the intelligence of Cary Grant, and the heroic flaws of John Wayne. And yet, he tried to emulate each one of their personas at one time or another.

Second: The Reagan I knew as a politician was an old man. Older than my father. And as a result, a man of a different time. The great tragedy of the Reagan years, in my opinion, is that we as a nation in the 1980s felt it necessary to rely upon someone who was so obviously out-of-step and out-of-touch with the realities of life in the 1980s. For some sad, crazy reason, our national nostalgia wanted to forget the seventies (and by extension, the sixties) and return to Ozzie and Harriet land. Well, this was the man to get us there, McCarthy witchhunts and all. We (well, actually my parents generation) asked for it, and he delivered. The fact that what we asked for wasn’t really what we as a country needed was not necessarily Reagan’s fault — he was simply reading the script that the majority of the audience he could see beyond the footlights wanted him to read. That’s unfortunately how democracy works … as George Carlin once pointed out, the sad fact is that our elected leaders and representatives really are the best that we can do. They embody what is both best and worst in each of us. And in the “greed is good” generation of the 1980s, that worst turned out to be pretty bad, while the good seemed sentimental and trite. That describes the 80s, doesn’t it?

Third: Anyone who says that Ronald Reagan, regardless of what he may have done as “leader” of our democracy, deserved a 10 year battle with Alzheimer’s, is an asshole. Fuck you for even thinking that. And my deepest condolences go out to Nancy and the kids, both for having to live through the twilight hell and having to live through the circus now, and for the great hole in their lives once filled by a large, charismatic, sometimes humorous and often opinionated individual who is now gone, regardless of how you think he played his roles.

Fourth: On a personal note, the affect Reagan had on my life in the 1980s is observable by two simple facts. That during his Presidency, I was required to register with Selective Service. It was my impression at the time that he was responsible for that; and that I would likely be required to participate militarily at some near term juncture in the jungles of south and/or central America fighting to maintain some fascist-friendly ally of the American industrialists to whom the Republican party owed allegiance. And second, my first opportunity to participate in the government of this county, through the process of voting once I turned 18, was an opportunity to cast a vote against Reagan. I did so.

Fifth: Ronald Reagan was just a man. Nothing more, nothing less. Not a great villain, not a saint. If you’re sitting around either reading endless blog stories about him, or writing them, you survived both his time in power (which was, actually, pretty brief and more than a decade ago) and are likely to survive his legacy. Not so for Bonzo the Chimp, who died first.

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Primary Colors

You can’t trust the politicians,
but they’re really not to blame
’cause we give them what they work with,
handing over without shame

all the best of our intentions
and worst of our desires,
all the evils we won’t mention
but that honesty requires.

So in every politician,
there’s a bit of you and me;
they do try to represent us
and they do, to some degree:

all the quick conclusions
and the power we adore,
all the easiest solutions
that end in poverty and war.

There are some good politicians,
but they don’t stay good for long
because who they represent is us
and we are often wrong:

all the selfish motives
and all the foolish pride.
All the general vote is
is picking for your side.

09 SEP 2003

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