What’s next for the other 48%

A week after the disastrous results of Nov. 2, it feels a littlelike we’re walking around in the smoldering wreckage of anideology. It would be easy to see the victory of Dubya and co. inthe way it’s fed to us: a “mandate” from the people, an unqualifieddeposit of “political capital” into the president’s neo-conpiggybank. But keep in mind that, though Bush did indeed receivemore popular votes than any president ever elected, so did Sen.Kerry. And, though 3.5 million votes seems a large gap, it’s thesmallest margin ever enjoyed by a victorious incumbent.

Republicans want us to think that this election has been areferendum on a whole slough of their pet agendas, from the war inIraq to stem-cell research. They tell us a host of undergrounddecency, long silenced by the liberal media, has risen up anddemanded its pithy voice be heard. Up with the NASCAR dad, downwith Jane Fonda, once and for all! But for all that countrifiedAmurrican goodness, the embarrassing fact is that over 40 millionpeople voted against this late-’50s worldview – and we’re not allfrom Manhattan or Topanga Canyon.

Those of us who oppose the Republican agenda must see Nov. 2 asa call to action. We can’t allow the co-option of “morality” norcan we be relegated to the status of effete snobs, crouched overour double-lattes reading Mother Jones. No resistance can besuccessful that does not come from the grassroots up. We can’t justbe the movement of English majors, we’ve also got to be themovement of tomato-pickers and mechanics.

With admirable solidarity, we tried to unite behind the bannerof the Ass, but we were hamstrung by the painful incoherence of theDemocratic Party’s “message.” Their fatal presentational flaw issimple: one can think immediately of what Republicans stand for,but what about Democrats? Part of this has to do with the left’sreliance on web sites and campus kiosks, while the right reachesmillions of voters on the nightly news and talk radio. Broadcasterslike Randi Rhodes and Ed Schultz (AM 620, KPOJ) have begun takingthe fight straight to the people, and the positive response hasbeen enormous, but they’re still dwarfed by the opposition, andthere’s a lot more to be done.

If we decide that the most effective means of promoting ourmessage is via the Democratic Party, than we must remake that partyin our image. We certainly can’t pander to the spineless”soul-searching” of the defeated, who will try to make us a lap-dogto the Right.

Ralph Nader was absolutely correct in one thing: power yieldsnothing without a fight. Before Nov. 2, the nature of the fight wasdifferent. It was right to try to concentrate our efforts onunseating Bush, and Kerry gave us a real chance to do that. But nowwe have to focus on that which gives us strength – and that’s notthe Democratic Party, at least not in its present form. Here inOregon we have a healthy Green Party, one option for an excellentstarting-point around which to rally our troops. A unified GreenParty choosing intelligent candidates (more David Cobb, less TreArrow) will act as an anchor keeping the Dems from driftingdisastrously to the right.

Let yourself get fired up when you hear John Edwards say, “Thebattle rages on!” But make sure you let him know that it rages onby our terms. Nov. 2 was only the beginning, friends. The hard workhas just begun.

Riggs Fulmer can be reached at [email protected]