Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Monday, February 07, 2005

Visions of Dean

So it's looking as if Howard Dean just might be the new top dog of the Democratic Party. And naturally, this potential event has prompted hand-wringing on the left side of the aisle and slavering on the right. The Red Staters and their punditry are wickedly sniggering at the possibility, given that they've successfully convinced America (with the aid of a truly wretched press-corps) that Dean is a screaming, unstable maniac. (These are the same folks who, cattle-prodded by the Bush crew, convinced us 5 years ago that John McCain, as a result of his service in Vietnam, was going to pull a Christopher Walken-in-The Deer Hunter once in office, as revolting a smear as has ever been perpetrated on a veteran. Where was Bob Dole to b*tch-slap these people back into their slimy caves? As a side note, don't you just love those photo-ops where McCain has to stand next to Bush--where the man who volunteered and suffered imprisonment and torture for his country, only to return to a thankless nation and build a career and a life based on ambition and merit, has to stand next to the smug, richer-than-thou prick who used his privilege to dodge any risk to his snivelling, pasty-white butt and had the world handed to him anyway by consistently failing upwards? And McCain has to vow his support and approval of this guy. And you can just see the white-hot hatred barely suppressed by party loyalty. Frankly, if McCain were ever going to flip out, 'Nam-style, he'd've done it by now. Regardless--)

Let me just say for the record: I think Howard Dean is the right choice. He's only 'controversial' to the losers on the right, and to the even bigger losers on the left who've let themselves been brainwashed by the losers on the right. Look: maybe I'm reading this wrong, but it seems to me I'd rather have a smart, passionate man who genuinely believes in the principles of the party running that party than a colorless schmuck who just wants to figure out how to pander to the elusive 'swing-voter.' Because you know what? Let me be (probably not) the first to say it:

F*** the swing-voters. F*** 'em left, right, and sideways 'til the handle breaks off. They--not the loons on the left, not the bigots on the right--they are what's wrong with this country. Why? Because they're ciphers. They have no core beliefs. They hold nothing sacred, or even dear. They are engaged by nothing and nobody. Don't kid yourself--'swing-voters' are not the cool, calm intellectuals who don't affiliate themselves with either party because they want to reflect on each issue with the objective, logical detachment it deserves. Hah! What do think this is? Switzerland? Canada? A country with a decent educational system? 'Swing-voters' are 'swing-voters' because they don't give a sh** either way. These are the people who vote for Bush because Kerry looked silly in his hunting outfit, or because they prefer Laura to Teresa. Who vote on stupid, silly, trivial motives because they don't know or care to understand the platforms of the candidates. Also, in case you hadn't noticed, 'swing-voters' are p**sies. Total, utter, scared-of-their-own-shadow p**sies. How else to explain the tentative, pathetic attempts to appeal to them on either side?--God, the spectacle of those candidates making their fumbling, oh-so-hesitant attempts to coax those voters gingerly out of their holes, with all the dignity of a 14-year-old kid trying to figure out how the clasp on his girlfriend's bra works before she changes her mind about letting him get to second base. Apparently, 'swing-voters' will stand for nothing that smacks of, you know, decisiveness. Of courage. Of greatness. Because these things court 'controversy'--and that sort of thing sends those 'swing-voters' scurrying back into those holes. Dean yelled a few times at a rally. The clip gets played over and over. And every 'swing-voter' now assumes that he's a raving radical. For God's sake, it was a rally. You're supposed to yell at a rally. But no, no, he "alienated the swing-voters" by showing passion and excitement and the desire to encourage his supporters to do the same. God, what a loon.

You know, Teddy Roosevelt was once shot--shot--while giving a speech. The bullet passed through the thick text of his pocketed speech and entered his body. Did he stop and take himself to a hospital? Did he leap off the platform to safety? No, he did not. He went on--and this is what he said to the understandably noisy crowd:

"Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose. But fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet - there is where the bullet went through - and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best."

And he finished the f***ing speech with a bullet in him. It just makes you weep to think of that kind of indomitable spirit and courage and how no president in recent memory has even come close to it. Now imagine if someone like Dean had done that today. He'd've been written off as a maniac--a showboater--a cowboy trying to 'prove' something. What a sad, little world we live in, and what little men inhabit its halls of power.

You know what? The Democrats need Dean. They need him a lot. They need someone who refuses to pretend that there's no difference between the two parties--or that the Democrats are the "centrist" party--there is no centrist party, folks. If we're going to be liberals, let's be f***ing liberals! Let's stop ignoring our core beliefs for the sake of appealing to a couple of uneducated yahoos who probably won't even show up on election day and, should they do so, will be more likely to vote on the basis of the color of our ties than on anything we may have said or done. Let's be Democrats, dammit. If we're wrong--if we lose elections--then at least we lose them because we laid out our plans and beliefs honestly and the people did not agree with them, not because we couldn't dupe them into thinking that we're really "just like the Republicans, only more moderate." The Republicans ain't scared of laying their agenda on the line, warts and all--hell, the Republicans could run on an open ticket of "F*** the n**gers, f*** the sp*cs, f*** the Jews, f*** the f**gots" and not lose a single red state in the process. Because everybody knows that that's what they believe--because they haven't hidden it. We need Dean. We need his honesty. We need his passion. We need to remember why we joined the party in the first place--because we believe what he believes. We need, in short, to remember that we are the party of progress--that we fight and argue and strive because it's only through us that slaves get freed, that women get the vote, that Native Americans stop getting slaughtered (too late on that one, but oh well), that we stop funding Central American death squads, that old people don't die in penury, that women don't bleed to death in back rooms on butcher's tables because abortion is illegal, that black men don't get lynched to a nation's indifference, that the murder of gays is met with horror and outrage instead of silence--that our country becomes a better, more moral place. We are the moral party of this country--and if we let ourselves get browbeaten by the right--by the people who want to tear down the wall between church and state, who want gays silenced forever, who scorn the rights of the many by calling them "failed policy," who think that the rich are somehow more deserving of governmental protection than the poor, who don't give a s*** about the environment because it doesn't have an effective lobby and it's really profitable to f*** it up--if we cave to these people, we deserve to lose. We deserve to lose.

God speed, Howard Dean. You've got my vote at least.


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