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John Cory: The Election - My Two Cents

The Election - My Two Cents

By John Cory
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Saturday 06 November 2004

It was so close, yet so far away, and now the dance of the cannibals begins, devouring and dissecting the disillusionment, fixing blame, and pondering where to go next. Shoulda-Woulda-and-Coulda come to dine.

There is lots of talk from the media experts and pundits about ''moral values'' being the factor that elected Bush, and plenty of folks willing to believe such nonsense. But let me ask:

Was it moral values that elected the guy who sat for 7 minutes, reading a children's book, while the country was under attack and people were dying?

Is moral values the reason to impeach a President for lying about sex, but not for oozing bloody lies to start a war that is killing innocent civilians and our own youth?

Do moral values say when Jesus fed the poor, drove the moneychangers from the temple, walked with lepers, defended the harlot, and healed the sick, that he was practicing wanton immoral liberalism?


I have no access to the corridors of power, or the Democratic Party shapers. I am not a journalist or pundit or pollster. I'm just a guy looking for work in this GOP economic jobless recovery, struggling to find the America I used to know. The only things I can afford these days are my beliefs and my voicing of those beliefs.

This campaign season brought all of us "liberals" new technology and new organizations for getting our standards and philosophy out to the masses: Howard Dean, the wonderfully invigorating blogosphere of Atrios and Talkingpoints Memo, Air America Radio, Media Matters, Truthout, Buzzflash, Bartcop, and so many more outlets of hope. We cannot afford to languish in morose depression over our loss, but must embrace our new tools of democracy and faith and move forward.

The Democratic Party leadership needs to re-evaluate its position and priorities, no question. But we need to force them to support us, not the other way around.

If God-talk is the fear of Democrats and liberals, let us turn to men like Barak Obama, who are able to speak eloquently and forcefully about faith without false piety and the puritanical alienation accused of liberalism. Let Barak Obama ask the moral values crowd: Does God have a favorite color?

Last election cycle, Congressman Harold Ford was dubbed the darling of the Democratic Party. Let's put him front and center with Senator Obama, and give them a national platform on issues that affect America's working poor and healthcare for children and education. Put the whole Black Caucus center stage, and with a microphone.

Let's work for strong liberal leadership that includes Howard Dean and Andrew Young. The concern of Red versus Blue states ignores the Brown of America. Latinos and African Americans are the deep, widening base in need of Democratic support. There is money and political machinery in these communities, waiting to be tapped. As Dr. King said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." and ACT have proven effective and have the connections to the famous, and should be encouraged to continue promoting issues across the Internet and other outlets. I heard Joe Conason mention that his wife is forming a progressive book club to promote liberal and progressive writings. Maybe they will have room and desire to help writers like me, and others gain a platform. But the outlets are there. So is the American audience, thirsty for thoughtful discourse. Like Keb Mo sang: "Get up everybody, get off your ass; we got to do something, and we got to do it fast."

Perhaps as important as anything is the message.

I know, you are supposed to study demographics and the issues of your potential market, and tailor your message accordingly. Politics has become as marketing oriented as the recent publishing guru who asked me: What's your niche?

I got no niche. I got a country in deep Al Qaqa and doo-doo.

We need to order George Lakoff's book, "Don't Think of an Elephant," and DVD, "How Democrats and Progressives Can Win;" and then study the hell out of them as we shape the language of our message. And then of course, we have to spread that unified message. But remember, the success of the GOP right wing has been KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid.

We don't have to dilute or dumb-down our message, we need to embrace the Hollywood principle of "high concept," which put simply means: what is your story, in 50 words or less? Condense, control, and continue repeating the message over and over and over. Take control of framing the issues, or be framed by the opposition.

As we call one another to action, we have to call "bullshit" on our lazy press corps and manufactured media. We cannot let a lie go unanswered. We cannot let sloppy, self-centered, ego-obsessed pundits continue to disrespect the power of the press and the obligations of the press to empower the people and expose the corruption of government run amok.

We need to shed the shame of being called liberals. Stop apologizing for being a liberal. We must stop the folks who appear on the right wing noise machine who stutter and stammer about the new liberals being centrists, and embrace our liberalism as an American value. Like the song says, "What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?"

We need to dream, and when we awake, we need to work to turn the dream into reality. It doesn't happen overnight, that we know. And if we are going to inspire others with hope, we have to perspire with our own hope and celebrate the sweat of liberal labor.

Let's start equating liberalism with tolerance and belief in equality. Redefine the so-called 'culture war' as a war on the values that founded America. No one party owns God or morality. Hypocrisy is an equal opportunity employer.

And while the neo-GOP slanders and tries to silence opposition, let's get back to basics. The basics of American principles as stated in our Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

When I read those words, I see everything a liberal stands for: liberty, justice, peace, the common welfare of all, and the concern of keeping and passing on American values to one another, and the future generations of America.

Sort of makes you proud to be a liberal, doesn't it? But like Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee sang, "The battle's over, but the war goes on."

So let's get to work.


John Cory is a Vietnam veteran. He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V device, 1969 - 1970.

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