November 8th, 2002 | Published in Uncategorized
So, today I’m up to my gills in the left-leaning Web.
The post-election post-mortems are flying around. I occasionally go to
visit a right wing site because their smirking and high-fiving is
comforting: they believe in their heart of hearts that the political
map’s most leftward edge is Hillary Clinton, which means there’s
nowhere left for Democrats to go but the dustbin of history.
The least thoughtful righties, of course, believe Tuesday’s mess
wasn’t the result of the Democrats dropping any balls… they believe
Democrats are universally hated. Whatever… the smart ones at places
like the National Review are already making the token significations
against the dangers of hubris, lest it provoke a backlash.
But I’m sitting here, a 34-year-old dotcom worker who spends most of
the day in his jammies, thinking that one of our most cherished
political axioms, that you can’t hope to change anything if you don’t
vote, is right in the same way saying the sky isn’t usually a nice
shade of pumpkin: there’s more to it.
On Wednesday morning I said my hope (and that of others) was that the
2000 debacle would force Democrats to the table with the progressive
voters they were getting really, really strong messages from in the
form of Nader defections. It didn’t happen. 9/11 hogtied them, and
the analysts are beginning to note that Bush campaigned the hardest
against some of his most friendly supporters in the Democratic party,
letting the lefties be lefties while he managed to make rightward
Democrats look like cubic zirconium Republicans: why vote for the
cheap imitation when you can choose the genuine article and get a tax
So when a political party becomes useless as even shrill opposition,
it seems like voting becomes less useful than normal.
It’s easy to be disgusted with “the Democrats” in the third person,
complaining about how they keep selling “us” out, or how they’re
rudderless, or how they need to come to the table with progressives.
But as long as they’re “them” and I’m “us,” it’ll keep being that way.
A couple of nights ago, Michael B. and I came to independent but
similar conclusions: whining about how bad the Democrats suck is as
pointless as voting for Nader every year…it doesn’t work, nothing
changes, and we keep getting stiffed, which means we’re left with the
option of either pantomiming political involvement every two years and
pulling the levers like monkeys hoping for a treat instead of a nasty
shock, or becoming part of the problem in hopes of maybe getting to be
part of the solution.
So Michael ran out and found the local Democratic Party Web page where
you can volunteer to do stuff, and I’m fairly convinced that even if
it’s as a foot soldier or grunt, I’ll be doing something. I wouldn’t
pass a background check, so it’ll be as a “party worker.” Maybe it’ll
end poorly: political parties are gigantic machines with entrenched
players who know what they want and regularly crush obstacles or coopt
resisters. But there’s nothing much left. The Supreme Court crushed
fusion voting years ago, affirming a de facto two party system, so
we’re stuck with what we’ve got.
I think I’d rather know that I was within spitting distance of the
people who set the agenda long before I ever get a lever to pull than
continue to deny votes to the candidates I like best
and complain about the ones for which I feel forced to vote.
Quixotic? Alarmist? The Democrats will self-heal into a force for
progressive voices in government?