On the anniversary of the Kerry / Bush election, there were lots of posts and recollections on the campaigns and laments about what might have been. For me, it was a day of much more painful and personal recollection.
It was memories of standing in Boston watching the end of the road for the journey that was the Kerry Campaign. Imagine a living breathing group of a thousand people united in a belief and a cause going full bore twenty four hours a day and then, stop. It's over. Gone. Done. End of story. Fade to black.
I remember standing in the hall of the Kerry campaign hotel in Boston, and being on the phone with Arianna, barely able to choke out the words "we're going to concede."
From there, I walked in Cam Kerry's room, and couldn't say a word.
In the darkness, I remember apologizing to all the 9/11 widows, who showed more grace and intelligence and balls than 99% of the Democratic Party pundits we had. I remember not even being able to look Kristen Breitweiser in the eye; I felt we had let her, and millions of Americans down. It was and is a horrible, sickening, awful feeling I will never ever forget and you know what? I don't want to because that pain gives me power.
I clearly remember being thankful for all the veterans, men like David Thorne and Paul Nace,Tommy Vallely and Max Cleland, and of course, John Kerry, because their dignity and grace got me personally through those terrible early November days.
And I remember thinking: this is absolutely horrible - that there was no way we should have ever lost and we did and it sucks. A year later, I haven't changed my mind on any of this not one single bit. I've also thought, for more time that I'd like to admit - about why we lost and how we lost and what we're going to do to never lose again and I've come to one conclusion - the Republicans play to win - the Democrats enjoy the battle but figure win or lose, they still get to be part of the process - we're all Americans right? Wrong.
You win - You're in. You lose. You're out. Way out. As in you're completely irrevelant. As in no, you don't get input on the nominee, no you don't get input on the appointment, you don't get a vote, you don't get jack. So my fellow Demcrats, the time has come to realize this basic fact of elections in the year 2005. And do something about it.
Repeat after me. Stop whining. Start fighting.
Fighting is what the Democrats did on Tuesday when they closed the Senate doors. (A top Democratic pundit said it best "The Democrats found their balls, imagine that.") But it doesn't stop there. It's not just when the country turns on an issue that our Democratic leaders need to follow, it's when an issue seems impossible to defend but right that they need to lead.
There are plenty of places to start.
For example, do you believe in equal rights for all Americans, for blacks and gays and lesbians, do you believe that we are all equal in the eyes of our fellow men and whatever god you choose to believe in? Then start fighting.
Do you believe that you should have the right to chose your god? Does it make your blood boil that the Texas Constitution now starts with the line "Texas is a Christian state." Every single member of another religion, especially the Jewish voters who were skeptical of John, a man who would be president with a Jewish brother, how could you vote for a man who took the time to support a change in his state's constitution with the sole purpose of excluding you?
Do you believe that a true American war hero like Senator Max Cleland from Georgia, a man who overcame the unimaginable, do you believe that he deserves more than to be attacked and devastated, or that John Kerry, do you believe he deserves our thanks for serving and not the tirades of lunatic liars like the SBVFT?
You can also join me and fight for the 159,000 men and women who are in harm's way in Iraq when they should be at home with their families. Let us fight for their spouses who are living on food stamps because no salary is coming in. It's despicable, disgusting and all too Republican.
Fight for the people who were forgotten in Katrina. And for the people praying for a miracle cure that might be inside stem cell research that they will never live to see. And fight for the children who are growing up with asthma because we are ruining the environment.
Fight for the victims of 9/11 whose memories were bastardized so that we could go to war not because we had to, but because we wanted to. George Bush likes to take about prayer a lot, I pray that someday the 9/11 families will forgive him for standing on their loved ones smoldering grave with a bullhorn. But I pray even harder they won't.
And hear me loud and clear, in the halls of K Street consultant firms and in the offices of the Capitol, hear me in the corridors of power and the backrooms of strategy, the time has come to put away the myth of bi-partisanship. The time has come to put away the "I respectfully disagree." The time has come when you smile on tv shows with people who call you liars are gone. The time has come to stand up.
We will fight for what we believe in. And we will only believe in Democrats who will fight with us. (The support that Harry Reid is getting just shows how much we are hungering for real leadership. And we will get it.)
Never give up. Don't retreat. Never surrender. Winners win. Losers lose.
Finally....it's been a year since the tears in the hallway of the hotel in Boston, the pain of Fanueil Hall, the chant of Marvin's name as he got the teleprompter ready for one last speech. Time may heal all wounds but it's not doing a very good job on this one. But I do want to end this post to everyone who worked so hard and shared the journey with me, thank you. God bless you all.
CFK, KW, DK, PK, AH, DT, PN, TV, CG, CG, PD, JF, MN, SW, JL, TY, NT, KT, PS, JE, SE, PR, KB, SB, JD, PM, SW, TR, LS, MA, BA, HW, GW, JR, RO, JJ, JL, EB, JE, MJ, JL, JA, JDK, TS, RM, BF, AS, MSP, NP, SR, JH, TM, KW, JS, AK, VK, CH, AH, PM, LG, MC, RL, DG, RH, KF, LT, everyone I left out, and JK.