Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Can You Hear Us Now?
America is apparently not unlike an alcoholic: it had to hit rock-bottom before it was finally willing to ask for help.
Yesterday, Americans went to the polls in near-record numbers, and this morning the political landscape has undergone such a monumental change as to appear unrecognizable; this simply is not the same country it was at this time yesterday morning.
To downplay the extraordinary seismic impact of what has happened would be to dismiss the collective will of millions, yet amazingly, that's precisely what a few of the usual talking heads in the now wounded and limping Republican party are doing. A few hours ago, Tom Delay made the rounds on national television and -- when asked if he accepted that the country was demanding a different direction in Iraq and an end to the kind of scandals in which he himself played such an unquestionable role -- pulled off one of the most impressive feats of self-delusion seen outside of a padded room: he said that the Democrats didn't win, the Republicans simply took a hit because they didn't get their message across. He said that America is a nation with conservative values and the GOP is, and always will be, its national party.
I'll have to assume someone just unearthed him from a time-capsule buried back in 2002.
No administration has ever made its message more crystal clear. Bush, Cheney and their minions repeat the same statements more often than an autistic nine-year-old.
Let's recap though:
The Democrats now control the House, and when all the votes are counted will more than likely control the Senate as well.
They won an assured victory in the House despite redistricting changes made during the past twelve years of Republican rule -- changes which meant that the campaigns for many seats weren't as genuinely competitive as they were during the Republican Revolution of 1994.
In Rhode Island, Senator Lincoln Chafee -- despite having a 63% approval rating, and being an extremely moderate Republican -- was voted out; exit polls showed that voters were willing to sacrifice him to ensure that the overall balance of power was tipped.
The Democrats knocked off more than a dozen incumbent members of the House, and as many as six in the Senate -- winning seats in states throughout the Midwest which have traditionally voted Republican. They basically redefined what can and can't be considered a "Red State."
And finally this fact: not a single Democratic incumbent was defeated last night -- not one representative, senator or governor.
If that isn't winning, I have no idea what the hell is.
But here's what made me breathe a sigh of relief -- for the first time in a very long time -- after hearing Delay's hallucinatory comments: he doesn't matter anymore.
For the first time since George W. Bush took office, the usual pompously preening suspects of the GOP are nothing more than paper tigers. Rush has been neutered. Rove has been pummeled. The God-fearing theocrats have been, for the most part, left out in the cold. O'Reilly and Hannity now in some strange way resemble nothing more than a couple of yapping chihuahuas.
The fearsome schoolyard bully has fallen.
Those on the right, who have governed unopposed -- monopolizing the agenda which has steered us toward oblivion -- now understand that they are not the only residents of this great nation.
And what of their leader, the Naked Emperor, the man whose arrogant and uncontested rule has in just six short years cost this country the lives of 3,000 of its sons and daughters in Iraq, an entire American city at home, and the respect of most of the world?
The former King George is already begrudgingly making conciliatory gestures and talking loudly of bipartisanship -- because for the first time in his painful presidency, he has absolutely no fucking choice. He will have to find a way to table his leviathan hubris and learn to listen.
The noise the voters just made is loud enough that even he might be able to hear it.
Nothing substantial has changed yet, and it remains to be seen if the Democrats can and will do as they've promised. But simply by winning, they've brought accountability to an administration which sorely needs it if this country is to survive.
It took hitting rock bottom, but America finally asked for help -- and as any alcoholic knows, that's the most important step.