From the Publisher
“If you strike me down I will become more powerful then you could possibly imagine.”
Sure Ben Kenobi’s a fictional character but hell, so are most quasi-religious figures. The lesson is what matters most. Words are eternal.
Who knew so many people were homophobic? Karl Rove is a fucking evil genius and I congratulate him. Well played, sir. The Republicans went to their grassroots and mobilized their core. What a concept.* But just as Vader did not understand the series of events the killing of Ben Kenobi would begin, the Republicans don’t know what they’ve started. Even though we may have lost the election, in the process Democrats across this country have seen what an energized grassroots movement can do. More people voted for John Kerry than any other candidate in this nation’s history other than George W. Bush. 49% of Americans voted for the Massachusetts liberal. The last Massachusetts liberal that ran for president, Michael Dukakis, got smeared. These things take time. The conservative movement in the Republican Party took 40 years to develop.
We Democrats must take heart in the thousands of smaller battles that were won. The neighbors we convinced to vote for the first time. The people that volunteered for a campaign for the first time. The people that couldn’t keep their mouth shut any longer. The people that stood up and refused to sit back down.
One battle that was won was in Wisconsin. My friends and I went up to Wisconsin to work for the Kerry campaign. We canvassed the streets of Green Bay in the days leading up to the election. We knocked on doors and asked people for their vote. We were human faces at their doorsteps, and for those few days we had more power than Karl Rove. At that point the people on the street had more influence than any TV commercial. Many of us returned home with stories of how we convinced somebody who was on the fence or how we literally got somebody to the polls. My favorite story is how my brother convinced an old veteran that Kerry wasn’t going to take his guns away and then the old man took him into his house to show him his gun collection. John Kerry was going to win Milwaukee and Madison. All he needed was a split in the third-largest population area: the Fox River Valley, which includes Green Bay and Appleton. He got that split and he won the pivotal state.
While we were there we met many people from around the country who had joined the battle, from Long Beach Longshoremen Local 94 to a mother and daughter from Berkeley. We all heard the call to action. We came. We won. And we now know what it takes to win. We walked away from this election knowing that our efforts made a difference and that the actions of a few people can affect the outcome. We saw how every vote really does count and how to harvest them up, door to door. We saw what it takes to win and we returned home with new-found knowledge and new-found hope in the future. Speaking from one of the bluest of the blue states we say to Democrats in red states: Start from the ground up. Run for goddamn dogcatcher. Even the dogcatcher has a sphere of influence. We saw how important it is having the right people in the right place at the right time in 2000 (Florida) and in 2004 (Ohio). All things are built from the ground up. It’s a travesty that the Republicans have had control of the House of Representatives for the last decade. They have had control of this traditionally Democratic branch of the government for the last 10 years and this is where all federal legislation begins. If we fight as hard as we fought for the presidency in 2004 we can win back the House in 2006.
Many of us, me included, are exhausted from the constant state of struggle we have been in for the last four years. Now is the time to take a moment to catch our breath and regain our strength for 2006, but there is one last thing we must take care of. On January 20, 2005, there will be anti-inauguration protests in most major cities. Mass protests will happen in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, and on the mall in DC. Using our new-found organization, thousands of people will come out nationwide to say, “We are not going away!” This is not over. Using all of the new contacts and connections you made in the last election, organize a protest in your hometown. Go to your local federal building and say that you’re not going to roll over and play nice. Five people on a street corner making a scene get noticed in any town. Yell to the world that you are not defeated. You stood up to be counted. Now is not the time to sit down.
Do I have to even say it?
* The asterisk of sarcasm.
Copyright 2005, Geary Yonker
Images: Carter O’Brien
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