So I haven’t written a blog post in a while. And I could say it’s because I have been busy, but that would only be partly true. It’s also because I just haven’t felt inspired to write anything.
I mentioned my malaise to a friend of mine, and she was shocked. “But we lost the elections! How can you not be angry? Doesn’t that make you want to write something?”
And the simple answer is “No, not really.”
See, I don’t consider myself a Democrat as much as I consider myself a liberal. In fact, I have never in my voting life voted a straight party ticket. Back when I considered myself a Republican, I always had at least one Democrat on my ballot (usually Evan Bayh). And now that I don’t really have a hard party affiliation, I usually split my ticket about 2/3 Dem and 1/3 Rep. So I don’t feel like I lost too badly. About half my ballot actually won.
Still, I see my liberal friend’s point. And certainly, many of my friends on the left were pretty depressed by the election results. “We gave the kickball back to the playground bully,” one of my friends said, referencing a blog entry I wrote a couple years ago.
True. Just when President Obama’s administration was starting to resuscitate this economy that had most of the life sucked out of it by W. and his cronies, here comes the G.O.P. again, ready to kick it to death again. Indeed, many crucial economic indicators have been steadily rising in the past few months. (Not that indicators mean much. Economics is too complex to measure with most of these pat little numbers.)
Still, many of my liberal friends are quite depressed. Some of them didn’t even vote because they’re disillusioned with what they see as President Obama’s lack of action on social issues like gay marriage and DADT. I am too, but not voting certainly didn’t help their causes! Did they think the G.O.P. candidates would be more gay-friendly than the Dems?!
Anyway, I guess there are three main reasons that I’m not all that upset about the election results.
First, I don’t want a permanent Democratic majority. I’m not a fan of any political party having power for a long period of time. That’s why I was so vocal about getting Bush and co. out of office. They’d been in there way too long, getting their way and doing a real number on our country. True, the Democrats are much closer to my personal ideology than Republicans in general, but that doesn’t mean I want all Democrats all the time. Balance is better. No parties at all would be ideal, of course. I agree with George Washington: “(Political parties)are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” Since it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever be able to eliminate the party system we’re currently putting up with, though, I prefer to see it go back and forth a bit.
Second, it’s a lot easier to be on the defensive. I guess I’d never realized that until this election cycle. It’s so much easier to be in the backseat, complaining at the driver. It’ll be a nice respite after two years of listening to Republicans scream and stomp and throw rocks through windows.
Finally, though, I don’t despair about the right wing snatching back a little power because it’s just a little skirmish in the great war. If you ever want to really tick off a conservative, just remind them that in the big picture, the course of all human history, people have moving slowly but surely to the left. Yes, we’ve had ugly, violent jags back to the right (Roman Empire, Spanish Inquisition, Nazi Germany), but they’ve been local and temporary. The mankind that once valued only a handful of white, aristocratic landowners now (generally) values people of all creeds, colors, genders and religions. At the very least, most of us no longer own slaves. In civilized nations, children are no longer exploited, and women are no longer considered mere property. The nations where these backward (traditional and conservative) behaviors persist are considered abominations. In countries where we’ve abandoned slavery, child labor, gender and racial discrimination, we shake our heads at individuals who would return to those traditions. Even the G.O.P. no longer wants to be associated with the white supremacists they once courted openly.
So history is cyclical. I’m old enough now too see that and not to expect to win every battle. Tim Wise’s angry “Open Letter to the White Right” said it very powerfully: “We just need to be patient.” Because as a race, human beings are progressive. That progress may be frustratingly slow and often painful, but it’s pretty certain.
So to my Democratic friends, please don’t be depressed. Liberals can’t (and shouldn’t want) to win them all. And to my Republican friends, enjoy the victory for a few weeks. It’s always fun to win. But come January, the voters are going to expect some results. And this time it’ll be someone else’s turn to complain about your driving. Temporarily, anyway.