09/29/2006 10:00 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Halftime in the Locker Room

Look, I'm furious. And ashamed, and bewildered, and just about anything else you can say about yesterday's performance by the Democrats.

And yet.

And yet, we simply have no choice. We can indulge our anger to the point where we're paralyzed - and boy, won't that make Karl Rove happy! Or we can push on and fight harder.

Ours is not a generation known for patience. We do love the sprint, but we're not so good on the long haul. Grow up, guys - reclaiming our country is a very long haul. These bastards are dismantling everything, regardless of merit. Should we let them continue? Are you okay with bad schools, poisoned food, unsafe workplaces and a stagnant wage in an economy where we're supposed to be grateful for a job, any job? If you're so morally opposed to torture, is your solution to sit on your hands and let it continue?

Is your need to punish the Democrats worth that? Some slippery ideals, there.

There was, believe it or not, some tiny improvement in the Democratic stance: Every single Democrat who's running for president voted against the torture bill. There was a time not so long ago when that wouldn't have happened - but it did. That means we're getting through. Don't give up now.

Boomers like shiny new toys and gadgets, and once we discovered politics, we thought it was simply a matter of mastering the operating manual before we could bend the nation to our will. Sorry to burst your bubble, but politics is and has always been an incremental game.

The other side took the debate to a new low yesterday by institutionalizing torture, but they did show themselves for the morally bankrupt utter bastards that they are. The Democrats who voted for it? Well, let's say their souls need saving.

Let's hate the sin and, if we can't bring ourselves to love the sinner, at least help the sinner repent. We can fix this stuff after we win.

Glenn Greenwald has some wise words today:

... But a desire to see the Democrats take over Congress -- even a strong desire for that outcome and willingness to work for it -- does not have to be, and at least for me is not, driven by a belief that Washington Democrats are commendable or praiseworthy and deserve to be put into power. Instead, a Democratic victory is an instrument -- an indispensable weapon -- in battling the growing excesses and profound abuses and indescribably destructive behavior of the Bush administration and their increasingly authoritarian followers. A Democratic victory does not have to be seen as being anything more than that in order to realize how critically important it is.

A desire for a Democratic victory is, at least for me, about the fact that this country simply cannot endure two more years of a Bush administration which is free to operate with even fewer constraints than before, including the fact that George Bush and Dick Cheney will never face even another midterm election ever again. They will be free to run wild for the next two years with a Congress that is so submissive and blindly loyal that it is genuinely creepy to behold. A desire for a Democratic victory is also about the need to have the systematic lawbreaking and outright criminality in which Bush officials have repatedly engaged have actual consequences, something that simply will not happen if Republicans continue their stranglehold on all facets of the Government for the next two years.

If a desire to put Democrats in office doesn't inspire you into action - and, honestly, at this point, how could it? -- a desire to block Republicans from exercising more untrammeled power, and to find ways to hold them accountable, ought to do so. Disgust and even hatred are difficult emotions to avoid when reading things like this:

Republicans, especially in the House, plan to use the military commission and wiretapping legislation as a one-two punch against Democrats this fall. The legislative action prompted extraordinarily blunt language from House GOP leaders, foreshadowing a major theme for the campaign.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) issued a written statement on Wednesday declaring [emphasis in original]: "Democrat Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 159 of her Democrat colleagues voted today in favor of MORE rights for terrorists."

GOP leaders continued such attacks after the wiretapping vote. "For the second time in just two days, House Democrats have voted to protect the rights of terrorists," Hastert said last night, while Boehner lashed out at what he called "the Democrats' irrational opposition to strong national security policies."

We can't give up. If ever there was a textbook case of allowing the perfect to become the enemy of the good, this is it. People disappoint us all the time, and we recover. People do heinous things, and we forgive them. Anger is understandable. It's healthy. But let's get one thing straight: The Democratic party is not morally equivalent to the Republicans. They are not trying to enshrine a state religion, they're not ignoring the poor, they're not trying to start wars so they can give fat contracts to their donors.

If you can't see the difference, your demand for perfection is blinding you. You need to get past that, and push even harder.

Our children are counting on us.