November 8, 2006
The Wake-Up Call
By Mary Lyon
I guess I can understand oversleeping. Most of America stayed that course for a couple of election cycles already. But they're wide-awake now. The midterm elections of 2006 are a huge, clanging, banging, siren-shrieking wake-up call. For everybody. For the vast majority of Americans who finally came to their senses, for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, for the Democrats, for the media, and ESPECIALLY for the republi-CONS - who needed it most of all.
There's been just a little bit too much unilateral, imperial, swaggering, self-coronational arrogance going on in Washington in the past six years. Just a little too much pig-headed, close-minded, in-yer-face, "my way or the highway" obnoxiousness. A little too much dismissal of the single most important idea of democratic governance: THEY work for US. It's NOT the other way around. Bush's bunch and all the many multitudes of sycophants, cowards, cover-up artists, excuse-makers, and spinners forgot that. They drank too deeply of the "absolute power corrupts absolutely" vintage, piled into the same car together, and raced it straight over a cliff. They forgot that it's NOT about them, or all the power and trappings that they only get to BORROW, NOT to own. That's the PEOPLE'S purview. That's OUR department. WE run things. The power and authority comes from US. WE get the last word on who's allowed to use it in our name and on our behalf. WE'RE "the Deciders."
I had been expecting to write this two years ago, when the repudiation of republi-CON and Bushian overreaching, corruption, and outright criminality should have occurred. It would have been that much sweeter, and the damage they've been allowed to do in that time would have been checked, prevented at least partially. But much of America chose to remain asleep. I guess those nice dreams and warm beds really were better than having to wake up and deal with the harsh realities and the cold morning air. Better late than never, I guess. On the other hand, I feel like I'm waking up with something of a hangover. I'm dazed and a little confused. This can't really be true, can it? Score one for the Good Guys? Really? The Democrats won? Thomas Paine, his " Common Sense " and arguments about checks and balances - finally prevailed? Howard Dean's "50-State Strategy" actually worked? The final say had by the voters rather than the voter fraud? I must still be dreaming.
Best of all is that the above-mentioned "Democrats won" part IS the reality that Bush, Cheney, Rove, Mehlman, Hastert, Frist, Blackwell, Harris, Santorum, Mr. Macaca, the rest of the usual suspects, and yes, even Schwarzenegger woke up to when their morning-after alarm clocks finally rousted them. Arnold Schwarzenegger, being one of the few significant GOPers to win reelection, will still have to look around and smell the coffee, and the crystal-clear signals the voters of America sent to his party at large. The republi-CON idea of business as usual has been found soundly unacceptable, and has been shown the door. He probably got that message after his own recent humiliation, the last time Californians went to the polls in an off-year special election upon which he had insisted.
So, even though it's long overdue, here's the message the GOP needs to be force-fed, now that they've had to swallow a well-deserved helping of humble pie: You serve at OUR pleasure, and YOU will do it OUR way. Now is the time when all good Democrats, liberals, and progressives should stand firm for the aid of our party. ALL of us - the bosses, owners, and REAL upper management of this country - need to keep flexing our muscle, now that we've shown the world how much muscle we actually do have. Everyone who savors this victory and worked to achieve it should follow up on the results of Election Night 2006 to make sure the deal is closed. Phone calls, faxes, emails, snail mail, and other messages MUST be sent to remind one and all in Washington that, now that we've spoken, we're not going to shut up. OR go away. OR go back to sleep. You think the voters have spoken? The voters have only just BEGUN to speak. Furthermore, that message should be delivered, NOW, to all those outgoing incumbents who'll be handing their office door keys to new Democratic arrivals in the new year. They MUST be reminded that no hanky-panky will be allowed as the clock runs out. If Bush, or any of the rest of them tries to pull a fast one, like changing any House rules so the minority party enjoys equal subpoena power, or other moves to blunt the pain of their loss of power, such ploys MUST be stopped cold.
Exit polls done by CNN and other network outlets proved again and again that corruption was the giant-killer. The cronyism, the foxes stationed at all the henhouses, the sleaze, the bribery, the unchecked absolute power that did indeed corrupt absolutely, all of that was what brought Goliath (or, might that be, "GOPliath?) to his knees. THAT is what voters cared about more than terrorism, the economy, national security, or anything else on the political menu. The "business as usual" routine is so yesterday. And that's a message the Democrats BETTER take to heart, too. Now that Nancy Pelosi and friends are taking power, no one will be more aware of that than those who aspire to inherit the mantle of Jack Abramoff. Our guys and gals better damned well keep their noses clean. It's checks and balances. NOT checks slipped into your back pocket. The voters aren't apt to like Democratic corruption anymore than they enjoyed the republi-CON version, and we can't afford to hand the gavel back in 2008. America , as a whole, can't afford it. And considering the impact America has on the rest of the planet, the world can't afford that, either.
For now, by all means, let's delight in the victory. Measure the drapes. Size up the new offices. Order the new stationery. Collect the resumes for the new staffers - and scrutinize them all meticulously. Be gracious in victory - or not. Well, maybe take out the "or not" part. It's too early and I've just awakened from a very, very bad, six-year-long nightmare. I'm not sure yet if I want to be kind or cruel, whether I'd rather rise above it or give the hyenas who smirked, laughed at us, and reveled at our anguish in 2000, 2002, and 2004 a good strong taste of their own bitter medicine. I'm happy to leave it to that other California girl who's evicting Dennis Hastert, and who will sit up there on high, next to Dick Cheney, and directly above and behind George himself, at the next State of the Union speech - where all the cameras and the republi-CON Sore Losermans can't avoid seeing her. That will be a message and a reminder, and a good metaphor, all by itself.
But the one thing I AM going to make damned sure I do is stay awake. May all our Democrats do likewise.
And then go DO something about it.
(Especially now that we finally CAN.)