Sunday, November 7, 2004

how to outgrow the 2004 U.S. election

The obituary of the Democratic Party in 2004 is written—it’s been a long week—but already filed away. Lots of commentary on what progressives need to do has already happened, and this will grow.

Things aren’t half bad! I’ve smothered myself in as much commentary as anyone, and it’s my view that Kevin Phillips (a former Republican official and political analyst who has become an outspoken critic of Bush) has captured the crux of the matter. He sees no evidence that Bush’s 51-48 percent win over Kerry will lead to a significant new chapter in American politics.

“A man who would have lost in 2004 if 9/11 hadn’t come along, was lucky 9/11 came along,” said Phillips, referring to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. “It gave his whole brand of simplistic politics a hook.” [Reuters, 7 Nov.]

There is no conservative takeover of America, merely a continuing period of garrison conservatism in an almost evenly-divided continent. America is basically multilateralist and non-militarist, minus provincial fears of terrorism (which is not only a Bushie production, thanks to al Qaeda videos). Cosmopolitan democracy is alive in much of the U.S.—but of course not prevailing in Washington, D.C.

Going forward is what matters: articulating what’s progressive relative to venues that you can influence—be that Practice within the smallest organization of your life or the polestar of Theory you bring to discursive inquiry.

I’m about what democracy can realistically be. I have little time for unconstructive complaint (but much empathy for clinical issues)—which is not to dismiss the work of constructive critique! Yet, only critique which serves future-oriented constructiveness has promise.