James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Monday, January 30, 2006

A personal note; the pause is over

This is far more personal than I generally care to be, and probably more than most readers need to know. Before getting fully back into the fray, however, I want to make some explanation of my recent absence to those who might find the inner dialogue mentioned here relevant to their own sometimes conflicting thoughts.

Others will be forgiven for skipping this piece and checking in a few days from now for the next posting.

(Don't worry. I'm not going to start spewing intimate details of my life like some dimwitted Tom Cruise clone.)

Now and then over the past few months, someone has asked me why I haven't been writing.

At first, I had no real answer to the question; I wasn't entirely sure why I stopped adding to this blog. Something didn't feel right, and though my observations about the miserable state of the country and world of Bush & Co. continued, I didn't seem to have the juice to set them down.

Fairly quickly I realized that I was troubled that my perceptions of how to deal with the evils of our right-wing government often were in conflict with the thoughts offered by people for whom I have great regard.

I have a passion for truth in public life, and we're suffocating in lies. I was (and am) extremely angry about the enormous damage being done to the world and my country by the greed-driven sociopaths who now rule the United States. I am furious at the incompetence, avarice and cowardice of what we still, mistakenly, call the mainstream news media. I am sometimes hotheaded when my sense of right and wrong is offended, and I am perhaps not the most patient of men. (Yeah, just kidding; I know that's a gargantuan understatement.) To be undeservedly easy on myself, I do not suffer fools gladly. I wanted to see leadership from those who were willing and able to confront the bad guys head on.

But, as I said, some of the people whose perceptions differ substantially from my own are good people. Some are active in attempts to rescue our country and preserve, or restore, the health of the planet. It was necessary for me to pay close attention to such people and decide whether in my rage I was losing sight of reality and failing to recognize more moderate, and perhaps therefore more practical, approaches to the enormous problems we face.

To no one's great surprise, I'm sure, I've decided that in the main, my original conclusions are correct. But I'm more comfortable in my skin, now. I can say exactly why I believe what I believe and also how and why I'm quite sure that some good folks are making serious mistakes.

It is not only possible but common to be excessively moderate. A very large proportion of middle class America is afraid -- more than merely afraid-- of appearing as anything but “moderate,” regardless of provocation. Democracy may sink into the right wing slime, but they'll never lose their calm demeanor. Until recently, even openly “liberal” columnists and commentators feared to call the Bush crowd by the name of liar, though they richly earned the title long ago.

Screw that.

We need some fire-breathing liberal politicians and muscular leaders ready to toss the corrupt and incompetent right wingers into the molten brimstone.

A couple of fairly recent events to illustrate the roots of my now resolved dilemma:

Three weeks ago or so, I was at a well-attended “town meeting” supposedly set up so that my Congressman, Martin Sabo, could hear the concerns of his constituents.

Well, hell, it's an election year, which is the only time we see or hear from Marty.

For many years, I was a Sabo supporter. He's a Democrat who has occupied his totally safe seat in Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District for 28 years. He reliably votes as a liberal would have him vote. We let him slide on the fact that in public, at least, he's only marginally more articulate than George W. Bush.

But for the past four years, I've been yakking at my wife and a few politically aware friends about the fact that an empty chair would be almost as useful as Sabo. He hasn't done anything other than push a vote button in more than a decade. When he appears, always briefly, in public, as at a Democratic district convention, he seems exhausted, like a man with a very bad hangover or perhaps someone who is simply defeated by life. You feel you want to hold him up so that he doesn't sag to the floor like some vapors-struck maiden in a Victorian novel.

Well....I intend to talk about Sabo and, to a lesser extent, other Democratic office holders in another piece in the near future.

The thing is, I came away from that meeting so convinced that Sabo must be replaced in Congress that I immediately started looking for ways to help make that happen. That's true despite the fact that among establishment Democrats and some younger folk who are adoringly grateful for any member of Congress who votes as a liberal these days, Marty is a saint.

Indeed, a very good, honest, highly intelligent and hard-working peace activist I know wrote about the same Sabo town meeting and concluded that liberals must be deeply grateful for Marty's presence. Given what he said, I had to reexamine all the thoughts I had about Sabo during and after the meeting.

Then, only a few days ago, my long-ago colleague, Molly Ivins, wrote a column lambasting Hillary Clinton and other calculating, cowardly and apparently ethically deficient Democratic politicians and those who would force us to accept them as candidates for high office. In so doing she at last joined Maureen Dowd and a few other columnists who have the guts to tell off the weaklings who run the national Democratic party machinery. She also joined me; I've been ranting to same poor wife and friends about those same politicians for even longer than I've been complaining about Sabo.

Then the good liberal who paid his respects to Sabo wrote a piece saying that we should not climb on our high horses and reject Clinton and the others out of hand. To do so would be arrogant, and possibly lead us to another election defeat, he said or strongly implied. He also noted that Hillary Clinton is so very popular in New York that the Republicans are finding it impossible to field a serious candidate to run against her for her Senate. He suggested that she may have the same popularity elsewhere in the country.

Truthfully, that one didn't cause me to do any serious reexamination, but given the source of the commentary, I did think about whether it was necessary.

Clinton undoubtedly is powerful in New York, but New York has peculiarities that set it apart from all but, possibly, one or two other states. If she is the Democrats' candidate for president next time around, Dwight Eisenhower's two overwhelming defeats of Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s will look like near things by comparison, and it won't much matter who the Republicans run. Jack Abramoff could beat her almost any place in the country other than New York, Minneapolis and, maybe, a few sections of California.

About half the people I know who once were active Democrats already have all but abandoned the party. They stand on the sidelines. At least half of those I know who still call themselves Democrats are poised to bolt. And I am back to where I was a year ago, but more sure in my thoughts:

If the long-time Democratic party officials, cowed office holders and professional flapjaws who are misreading the American public give us another limp Republican Lite candidate for president, the Democratic Party is dead and gone. At best it will be a cardboard cutout propped up in the Capitol lobby to give the false impression that there still is an opposition party.

Next: Why those pushing excessive “moderation” are dead wrong.