Starving on a Diet of Hope: Another Presidents' Day Message

04/17/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

David Feige's post, My President's Day Message -- An Open Letter to President Obama, made me deeply sad, angry, and exhilarated, all at once. It's a great post: it says so clearly and calmly what so many of us feel after having watched the Titanic of the Democratic Party, with its "filibuster-proof" 60-vote majority, hit the little ugly Republican iceberg and vanish without a trace. I urge you to read Feige's Open Letter to President Obama. My response is an Open Letter to Feige and all like-minded, broken-hearted progressives.


I voted for Obama too, because his intelligence and decency were so evident, and so clearly superior to the ignorance and criminality of his predecessor. I knew better, though: I knew I should not vote for a candidate who voted for the FISA "compromise" (with a Vice-Presidential ticket-mate who voted for the vicious bankruptcy "reform" bill). I knew I should not vote for a candidate who insisted on turning the other cheek (he was turning my cheek, too; America's cheek!), a candidate who resolutely refused to seek accountability for high crimes, a candidate adamantly opposed to following (and thereby restoring) the rule of law. When Obama and his administration decided against pursuing justice for the criminal behavior of the Bush administration, they became accomplices: they became the Bush administration.

Today the contemptible and ridiculous Democratic Party is frightened again and truly grieving for the premature retirement of Evan Bayh. Never mind the crucial health care reform that Bayh did his best to prevent. Without this ambiguous paragon, our party leaders of the vaguely-leftish center might lose their choice new places at the public trough before they've gotten much out of it, and, of course, as we who have eyes to see have seen, nothing else matters to them in the slightest except their places at that trough.

The country doesn't have a chance to reverse its downward spiral unless we elect Progressives (which, I know, I know, probably means it doesn't have a chance). But fool us once (or fifty times; or a hundred times), and sooner or later maybe you won't be able to fool us again. Surely Bayh Democrats, Centrist Democrats -- Vichy Democrats -- are worse enemies of any real hope for a decent future than are the shrill, lying, hypocritical, hate-spewing, but admirably unambiguous Republicans. Bayh and his ilk pretend we have a common enemy, but they are not and have never been our allies. The things we hope for and need and care about for the country keep dying in the relentless fusillade of their "friendly fire." It's not that we never learn, it's that we tolerate and enable some evil because we judge it to be the lesser evil. Surely this is wrong. it's wrong for me. I'm hereby pledging never to vote for evil again, even if it's clearly what Ralph Nader has so astutely and urgently described as the "least-worst."

I know that many smug masters of Realpolitik will dismiss this stance as, at best, naive. Let me just ask them to consider one single fact in the long war progressives have been fighting on these two fronts. The Democratic Party held a majority In the Senate that confirmed the nomination of Antonin Scalia to the United States Supreme Court . There was not a single dissenting vote. Do you think the current 41-vote Republican majority will allow Obama to appoint a liberal justice? Is that because Republicans are so good at what they do (or don't do)? Or is it because Democrats are so bad at doing anything? What difference does it make, finally? I know that breaking up is hard to do, especially when you're frightened about ever hooking-up again in the future, but when you have to break up, you have to. Surely it's time -- long past time, and clearer than ever now at the end of Obama's first year -- for progressives to break up with the Democrats.

Let the teabaggers, in their astonishing, fierce, troglodyte minority, cannibalize the Republican Party. Good riddance. And let our new Progressive Party make the Democrats as obsolete as the Whigs or, better, the good old Know-Nothings. Imagine future elections contested over principles, elections with much less lying.

I know this is not much of a hope or dream. I know the country -- and the planet -- probably don't have the time it will take to get this new millennium started. But at least we will be doing something real, and it will be the "small work": we'll be helping to educate the electorate, expose the liars, prosecute the crooks. We can be engaged at every level, from local school boards to the White House, in electing Progressive Party candidates. Hoping for the Democrats to do anything for us or for the country is lazy, childish, silly. Look at their history. Let's get out of bed with Evan Bayh and Blanche Lincoln and Ben Nelson: and don't grieve about what we'll be losing with our "filibuster proof" majority. Dorothy and her friends got more from the Wizard of Oz. Let's change: let's do what we can to support and elect men and women who speak and are willing to act as Progressives, who are willing to lead the fight against TweedleDumbs or TweedleDems. And let's not talk any more about hope. We're wasting away: hope, apparently, has no calories.