Everything has changed. It's been a month since my last post. That's because I felt I had said everything that I had to say. The important things hadn't become less important in the light of the Mark Foley scandal or John Kerry's ill-advised comments. Those things were a blip on the radar compared to the issues of who we are as a country and who we want to be. Habeas corpus, torture, and aggressive war are still the issues of the day, no matter what anybody might try to tell you.
The choice between the two parties was clear and most aptly described by Noam Chomsky in 2003: hegemony or survival. The Republicans sought American hegemony internationally, at any cost. The Democrats have posited that the survival of our nation is too high a price to pay for short-term global dominance. The American people, increasingly, agree.
This is the dynamic as it has played out. While the American people may not necessarily see it in those terms, that is the clear choice they were offered. Look at the record of the past six years pursuing unbridled hegemony: the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history on 11 Sep 01, a follow-up war (still on-going) in Afghanistan that cost tens of thousands of Afghan lives and accomplished none of the stated goals (capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al Qaeda) but plenty of unstated goals (establishing a U.S.-friendly government in Kabul and building a pipeline through their country to pipe natural gas from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean), devastating deficits threatening the ability of our government to remain financially solvent, another war (still on-going) in Iraq whose reasons proved to be false (weapons of mass destruction) and whose real reasons are just now coming to light (oil) and which has cost over 2,800 American lives and 655,000 Iraqi lives (which, taken as a percentage of their population, would be the equivalent of losing 7.89 million Americans; when they say every day is 9/11 in Iraq, they're not kidding), strumming guitar while New Orleans drowned, and finally, posting nuclear secrets in Arabic on government websites in a desperate attempt to justify their ill-conceived and even more poorly planned invasion of Iraq, all so that America could maintain some sort of strategic dominance over friends and enemies alike. To sum up the Republican policies: "For America to remain safe and secure, many Americans and even more foreigners will have to be killed or maimed for dubious and often out-right fallacious reasons."
The Democratic platform has been, essentially, "I'm not with stupid." And that, as it is turning out, seems to be enough.
The Democrats have recaptured the House of Representatives. This is a huge shift in the power structure of Washington, D.C. Instead of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi struggling to get a hearing at all in the Republican-dominated House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be working on an even footing with President Bush. Nancy Pelosi will be the most powerful legislator in Washington, and John Conyers, who has been drafting articles of impeachment against President Bush, will be the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
And that says nothing of the Senate, which, as of this writing, is still in play.
What does this mean? It means that President Bush is no longer the undisputed master and commander of our nation. He has to answer to somebody and that, fittingly enough, that someone is a woman. It means accountability, and to Republicans who know that they've been screwing the pooch for the past six years, that's a truly frightening prospect.
What it means for America, though, is that the system works. Even when our nation is at its darkest, the people can still rise up and insist upon change. It means that Americans do care and have a sense of moral outrage over the atrocities of the past six years. Moreover, it means that the old saw, "it's always darkest before dawn", holds true today. For that is where we are now: dawn. The light is not shining at its brightest, but we can see it coming. We are still in relative darkness, but we have finally had the first bitter taste of that horrible illusion:
Despite the great trepidation with which many of us faced today's events, neither the American people nor the voting systems we have in place let us down. The will of the people is being carried out. This is the beginning of the end of our long national nightmare. Now we must insist that Democrats not acquiesce to the Republicans' more unreasonable demands. Now Nancy Pelosi must insist equal footing with President Bush in the national debate. Now the Democrats become a true opposition party in the House of Representatives, opposing President Bush's demands.
Now, more than ever, we must show this President that he is not the emperor of our nation and that he can be told "no". Insist that the Democrats do so. We have won this battle. Now thus begins our war in earnest.