Election night, 2008, I remember it like my father’s hands, like the first time I fell in love, like the day my son won gold for the first time. My friends from Virginia politics, the Democrats, the Progressives, the true believers, felt an ecstatic joy unlike any we’d experienced in politics. After eight years of dizzying assault on everything we held dear, finally we had won back control of the levers of power in Washington.
There would be no more assault on Social Security in the name of wealth for the few, international peace in the name of wealth for the few, social justice in the name of wealth for the few. With the advent of the Obama Administration, we would finally have a genuine Progressivism in power. We would recover from the social and economic disasters wrought by the Bush Administration. We would see healthcare finally enshrined as a universal right in the American lexicon. We would see a universal respect for our cultural diversity. We would see a new emergence of forceful diplomacy around the world. We would see women achieve social and economic equality. We would finally, FINALLY!, see movement towards addressing mankind’s greatest existential threat: global climate change. We would see real progress.
We would see a more perfect union.
A funny thing happened, however, on the way to the Obama Administration. As our new president took to the world stage, a cabal of Republican leaders and Conservative zealots devised a strategy of sedition. On the night of President Obama’s first inauguration, they determined to faithlessly undermine the will of the American people. They would work to stop everything and anything the new President would attempt. They would stall all efforts to save the economy from the ravishes of the Bush depression. They would rally their base by reinforcing every bias and every brutality with facts and passions where possible, and lies wherever necessary.
President Obama proceeded with endless good faith. He offered open hands and incorporated conservative solutions first. Despite the admonition of all reputable economists, his Recovery Act prioritized conservative “Tax Breaks” over long term investments. His Affordable Care Act was taken directly from the plans created by the conservative Heritage Foundation. He aspired to a “Grande Bargain”on Social Security. He would accept Conservative arguments against benefits and for raising the age of retirement if only some Republicans, any Republicans, might meet his good faith with anything besides a slap in the face.
As the Obama Administration ends, we can clearly see the net effect of nearly a decade of Conservative sedition. They dug in and fought for their failed and anti-American policies. They undermined justice with voter suppression laws in the states. They rallied their supporters against universal healthcare access with “death panel” lies and endless, pointless, votes for repeal. They raised racial biases by denying even the President’s American citizenship, and by lying to their supporters about the causes of economic change. They denounced his efforts to expand American influence through cooperation as weakness.
Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy. In America, Conservatism means the domination of society by an aristocracy of rich, “Christian”, white men. If we can’t thump our chest and make the world fear us, we are not the leaders of the world. If we can’t force the inferior races and women into their rightful place of submission, we are not worthy of our place at the top of the order of society. If ours is not a Christian nation as narrowly defined by our prejudice, then we are not defenders of the faith.
The American republic is now at a crossroads. We will accept the Conservative NewSpeak lie that freedom is the right of the rich to line their pockets at the expense of the rights and legacy of the American public, or we will redeem the public sphere from the dominance of Conservative oligarchs by asserting, rightly, that American freedom is the right and privilege of every man, woman and child in our nation, that it may again be the aspiration of every man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth.
Progressives, Liberals, and Democrats must finally accept and acknowledge that Conservative hate speech is not some abberation, but is the genuine fulfillment of generations of indoctrination. We must fearlessly expose Conservatism as the work of, violent Militarists, Theocrats, and Oligarchs, for whom freedom is only for the few, the rich, the white, the male, and the Dominionist.
We tried. President Obama tried. Democrats tried. Progressives tried. We tried to reach out to the right, to find common ground, and common cause for the good of all Americans. In their reaction, Conservatives showed us what they truly are: the defenders of justice for the few, faith for only one interpretation of divine Truth, eternal war as our legacy to the world. For the many, for our diverse nation, they wish poverty, sickness and death, wage slavery, and subjugation for race, sex, nationality, and religion.
For decades, Conservatives and their Republican electeds have been unafraid to revile Liberals, Progressives and Democrats in the most defamatory way. They have been unafraid to lie about us. All we need to do is finally begin to tell the truth.