Lots to do.
And near the top of that list has to be the systematic and sustained repudiation of the quacks and crackpots whose lethal creed of Conservatism caused so much damage so many of the vital organs of our body politic in the first place.
For a generation, Conservatism has been our nation’s Number One sugar-coated, melamine-flavored, cyanide-laced, triple-lead-dipped, mercury-slathered,Thalidomide-sprinkled seven-for-a-dollar ideology. It came wrapped in shiny-shiny Scripture and was sold to the yokels with the most sophisticated advertising Wall Street and “K” Street could buy.
Worse than making us poor, sick, hated and crazy, Conservatism nearly succeeded in conning us into believing that poor-sick-hated-and-crazy was normal.
If it was a car, it would have been recalled, scrapped, crushed and buried in the desert. If it was canned tuna, it would have been yanked from the shelves, every teevee in the country would be running warnings about it, the feds would be impounding it at the docks, and the company owners would be in custody by now.
But Conservatism is a school of thought, and we don’t ban those in America, so its purveyors go merrily on their way, shrugging off the bodies and wreckage they have left in their wake, insisting the antidote to the horrific side-effects of their patent medicine is to double the dosage.
And because this is the case, it falls to us -- the crazy America-hating Left -- to take the Big Clown Hammer to the revisionists whenever and wherever they pop out of the shadows to try and slap a new paint job on their ideological Ford Pinto and resell it as a Conservative Prius.
Such as this column by Andrew Sullivan:
"Freedom Or Power?
"In many ways, I think those two polarities often expose the deeper fault-lines in our politics than right or left (because the choice between freedom and power exists within both right and left as well). And this Rick Warren flap at its core, I think, is about the difference between those who see a civil rights movement as a means to wield power and those who see it as a means to spread freedom.
This is the last, great lie that Conservatives tell themselves; the false-equivalence moral firewall they erect to spare themselves the harsh judgment an unbiased reading of their years as the willfully-ignorant bag-men of evil would yield.
And while it is tautologically true that the Authoritarian beast lurks in every human heart, there is no question whatsoever that is been the Andrew Sullivan’s Conservative Movement which let it off the fucking leash. Andrew Sullivan’s Conservative Movement that has been methodically cultivating, catalyzing and harvesting that impulse for political ends. And the only reason Andrew Sullivan is writing his piffle for money for the Atlantic instead of part of forced confession portion of a degayification program at “Camp Redemption” deep inside some Christopath gulag is that the Left finally pulled together enough backbone to stop it.
I want to live in a free society alongside people who genuinely believe I am a sinner destined for hell - and I want to get along with them. I am concerned (but not obsessed) with changing their minds, but totally repelled by the idea of coercing or pressuring them to do so. I am simply interested in having the government treat me as it would treat them. Once we establish that…"
Yeah, and once the state melts away, we will live in a Perfect Communist Paradise.
And once National Socialism cleans up all the “mongrel races”…
And once the markets are allowed to finally run free and unfettered…
And once the mothership comes in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet…
But no matter how many times these Utopian houses of cards collapse, the earnest pamphleteers of the Next Big Ridiculous Movement always seem to find a following.
So I oppose hate crime laws because they walk too close to the line of trying to police people's thoughts. I support the right of various religious associations to discriminate against homosexuals in employment. I support the right of the most fanatical Christianist to spread the most defamatory stuff about me and the right of the most persuasive Christianist to teach me the error of my ways. I support the right of the St Patrick's Day Parade to exclude gay people - because that's what freedom of association requires. In my ideal libertarian world, I would even support the right of employers to fire gay people at will (although I am in a tiny minority of gays and straights who would tolerate such a thing). All I ask in return is a reciprocal respect: the right to express myself freely and to be treated by the government exactly as any heterosexual in my position would be treated.
It is genuinely staggering that someone who makes a fine living writing about the intersection of human nature and political philosophy has such dangerously shallow and abstract understanding of how either of them play out in the real world.
“The government” is not an impartial machine. Not a force of nature. Not an old testament god. Not an occupying army.
Government is power, and how it is really used here in the real world has never been better expressed than by "President Art Hockstader" in "The Best Man" (1961):
Power is not a toy we give to good children. It is a weapon. And the strong man takes it and uses it. If you don't go down there and beat Joe Cantwell to the floor with this very dirty stick, then you've got no business in the big league. Because if you don't fight, the job is not for you. And it never will be.
Using government to advance the worldview of one group of people and to stigmatize another is exactly what went wrong these past eight years.
Again the lying by omission. The desperate attempt to rewrite history so that Conservatism was not a monster born long ago in bigoted rage and but a noble ideal horribly betrayed by one man and one Administration.
I have said it before; George W. Bush was not Conservatism’s aberration, but its apotheosis. His reign of faith-based disasters, failure, treason and lies all grew from the soil Sullivan and other like him aerated, plowed and fertilized year after year after year. Came shambling straight from the slaughterhouse floor of political reality on which men like Atwater and Rove, Falwell and Robertson, Weyrich and DeLay, Reagan and Limbaugh, Gingrich and Nixon and a thousand others practiced the bloody business of wielding power, while delicate souls like Sullivan – who never had the guts to face the fact that their Wingnut Welfare Chateaubriand came from the butcher’s block – invented fantasies about the Libertarian Meat Fairy, who delivered his fat slice of the good life bloodlessly, on Spode china, with clean linens and a fine red wine.
If we take this issue fairly to the ballot box next time instead of using power to enforce a premature settlement, our victory will have a durability and a legitimacy that will count for generations. So thanks, Jerry Brown, but no thanks. We already have marriage in two states. If we have patience and rely on freedom, victory - and a meaningful victory of good ideas - will come.
Just like the righteousness of the cause of abolition overcame the institution of slavery without a shot being fired?
Just like the injustice of Jim Crow and segregation was suffocated without the use of courts or the National Guard?
The key point about marriage rights for gays, after all, is that they do not affect or change marriage rights for straights. No one's rights are removed.
To quote Pericles: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!”
Really, the dimensions of this narcissism are breathtaking: That is how YOU SEE this issue, Andrew. That is not how THEY SEE this issue.
To a very real extent, government’s only power is coercive. The power to threaten to beat people up and/or take their lunch money, whether in the form of taxation or civil and criminal law.
Half the people who take an interest in such things believe that power should be used to carve a few acres of justice and fairness out of the jungle of human nature: everybody pays, everybody benefits, everybody sacrifices a little, and so long as those things get done, we agree to stay out of each other’s way.
Those people are called “Liberals”.
But the people who want to keep you a second-class citizen do so because they believe you are a second-class citizen. You ought to know; for the last 20 years, while they’ve been blaming Dirty Liberals like me for their aches and pains, you’ve been one of the oarsmen on their ideological galley. So you also ought to damned well know that waving the constitution in their face and blatting on about “rights” is as meaningless and irrelevant to them as Thomas Aquinas screaming about first causes is to a mole rat.
They believe it is their Christian duty to seize the hammer of government to pound the rest of us into their ideological mold, because their Prime Directive demands it. Because the demonizing, Manichean vocabulary of their faith makes it all-but-impossible for them to conceptualize the world otherwise. Because their dogma says gays cause hurricanes. Gays caused 9/11. Gays are an existential threat to marriage, Western civilization and Sweet Baby Jesus.
And to cope with that threat, they have a Plan delivered directly from God that overrides and overrules all other arrangements, and everything of this world is either a threat to the Plan, or a means to implementing the Plan.
Sullivan’s ivory tower onanism would be amusing and perhaps even practicable if we were all pure, noumenal beings, rafting down discrete, superconducting rivers of thought that could run freely side-by-side and intertwine but never touch or collide. (And, yes, I did unashamedly use the words “onanism”, “noumenal” and “superconducting” in one sentence.)
But we are not, and because government will always be with us and fascism never sleeps, the question is not and never can be “Freedom Or Power?”
The real question will always be whether that power will be wielded as a sword at Liberty’s throat or a shield on Liberty’s arm.