‘It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees’ Zapata
Now, more than ever, a US Presidential election has come down to hope versus fear, truth versus lies and courage versus weakness. Will Barack Obama be able to tell the undecided American voter the facts they need to hear but don’t want to listen to? Will John McCain be able to eek out another Republican victory from the elite and the ignorant? And will the floating voter in America wake up to the reality that there’s a literal and metaphorical world outside their borders? Fear of the other is the only card the Republicans know; this election will decide if America takes her place among the commonwealth of world nations or retreats into a selfish, timorous shell. It is time for Democrats to have courage.
Democrats have every right to feel worried at this stage of the campaign. The 1988 and 2004 debacles stalk the minds of every progressive; the memories of the Dukakis and Kerry campaigns sitting back and allowing the GOP lie machines free reign makes every Democratic voter shudder. The nagging doubt that all Obama voters have (apart from concerns about electoral fraud outlined by Greg Palast and voiced by Teresa Hynes Kerry) is that the US has become more Republican since 2000. Conservative dominance of the media, the reliance on a poorly educated and unquestioning redneck swing vote and a demographic and attitudinal shift as outlined in Micklethwait’s & Woolridge’s ‘Right Nation – Conservative Power In America’ have made a GOP victory appear, to pessimistic Democrats, a ghastly inevitability.
Fear is, however, the motivator for Republicans; fear of a black man (Obama was recently described as a Republican politician as ‘uppity’), fear of intelligence (Obama is a member of the ‘elite’), fear of responsibility (who ever heard of a government that couldn’t finance its services adequately by not taxing and spending?) and fear of reason (the GOP has enough useful idiots believing the world was created 4000 years ago) all provide nourishment to the Republican soil. When it comes to energy and the American way of life, a vote for McCain is the equivalent of sticking your head in the (oil-free) sand; Michael Klare’s ‘Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America’s Growing Dependency on Imported Oil’ succinctly outlines how the US will be unable to sustain an addiction to the black stuff beyond the next fifteen years. Voting Republican will not make the problem magically disappear.
Americans can change their lifestyle but if you live in fear you’ll vote Republican and not have the courage to change. If not, you can vote out of hope. Of course Obama is no political panacea; the Democrats need to embrace radical lobbying reform, tough decisions on regulating Wall Street and ‘Kyoto-Plus’ environmental changes. They need to make radical policy moves in the Middle East and de-militarise the US economy. But the Democrats and Obama are exponentially more progressive than the Republicans when it comes to all of these issues. Obama’s team knows that much of the world hates George W Bush’s America and the US won’t change this by confirming their retreat into isolationism.
Obama’s rhetoric reminds us that intellect is important; it’s not enough to be an ace marksman at shooting moose from a helicopter, or to be proud of ignorance. To paraphrase the ‘West Wing’, it’s time to let Barack be Barack. Democrats need to be proud of being smart and be proud of being cultured; they need to attack the Republicans aggressively for their failure to be these and more. They can’t afford to fear the GOP over the next seven weeks; in the words of Martin Luther King, ‘We must build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear’.
10. One displays her puppies in front of everybody – while the other…!
9. One’s a rabid little mutt – while the other’s…!
8. One likes a good bone now and again – while the other…!
7. One makes old hounds excited – while the other…!
6. One’s not the smartest dog in the kennel, while the other’s…!
5. One likes fouling up her own back yard, while the other…!
4. One makes rednecks feel tough, while the other…!
3. One’s been bred in Dr Frankenstein’s laboratory while the other’s been…!
2. One likes picking on the weak and the vulnerable while the other…!
1. And the Number One difference between a Sarah Palin and a Pitbull is…One of them is barking mad, while the other is…!