As we bask in either the glory of making history or the relief that the most loathed global figure since Hitler will finally exit the White House, it's tempting to follow Obama's lead and focus only on the positive, on 'where we agree', and to move past the partisanship of the past eight years.
And who can blame us? Scrolling through the endless slides of ecstatic Americans of every demographic, tears streaming down their faces as they hug their neighbors in jubilation, it's natural to want to forget the fetid stench of Ann Coulter's bile, Donald Rumsfeld's torture, Alberto Gonzales's spying and judicial racketeering, and George Bush's lies.
But this would be a mistake.
However badly we'd love to flush the karmic toilet, we should pause to ask ourselves how likely it is the forces that gave us Enron, Jack Abramoff, economic collapse, millions foreclosed into homelessness, Blackwater, Abu Ghraib, Katrina, waterboarding, economic collapse, abstinence-only education--the list really is endless--has been humbled into changing their venal ways.
Not a chance.
No, the party that still tries to spin Ronald Reagan into 'the Great Communicator' to make us forget his trickle-down economics and unprecedented deficit, nuns murdered by illegally funded contras, and battle stories from a world war he never fought, is already re-branding the rancid old GOP wine into a new bottle, hoping that in your history-making reverie you'll forget the policies that got us into the hole we're praying Obama can pull us out of.
The rewriting of history is already in full swing. For a week now we've been told incessantly Obama won because he ran 'a center-right campaign' in a 'center-right country' when only a week ago he was a Socialist. John McCain humbly delivered a 'gracious and heartfelt' concession speech, when only four hours earlier he was calling Obama a Marxist, a terrorist, a Muslim, and a liar.
And just this weekend, confessed drug addict and ACLU client-wannabe Rush Limbaugh declared the economy 'Obama's recession,' the plummeting stock market caused by a global 'fear of an Obama economy.'
Does this sound like a party suddenly chastised into soul-searching to you?
While you were running down the streets in exultation last Tuesday night, the largest taxpayer bailout to corporate America in history was being administered by no-bid Bush crony Reuben Jeffery, who lost billions of taxpayer cash in Paul Bremer's Iraq.
The next morning, while you mass-emailed cell phone pics of your Obama party to your friends, the Bush Interior Department looked into weakening the laws protecting the Grand Canyon from uranium mining, drinking water from mountain coal mining runoff, and gutting The Clean Air Act.
And just yesterday when Obama met with Bush, the most disliked president in history magnanimously said he'd 'consider' a bailout to the American auto industry if the Democrats in Congress will pas another disastrous 'free trade' pact, this time with Columbia.
Boy, does he sound chastened.
And what about the international joke that is Sarah Palin, do you think she's been discouraged by her two months of ethics violations, hate-baiting McCarthyism and blatant ignorance of American history, world geography, and international politics? Or do you think she's already putting her team together to come back at us in 2012 with a whole new set of Rovian catchphrases and winks?
Still feel like partying?
No, the values voters that booed John McCain when he mentioned the next president of the United States in his 'gracious' concession speech are not going to disappear because you took the time to pull a lever in a voting booth.
The thing we feared most these past few weeks was not that Obama would lose the election but that the Republicans would steal it. This will not change overnight.
So while it's great--indeed crucial--for Obama to appear to be above the fray of the ugly divide-and-conquer politicking that has poisoned this country for the past eight years, it's important for we the people to keep our outrage over these policies alive.
Because America did not end up here via mismanagement, mistakes or ineptitude; we ended up here via exquisitely executed policy. The largest budget surplus in the history of the world became the largest budget deficit in the history of the world, and as bridges collapse, hospitals and schools close and our economy implodes, let us never forget where our money went and how.
The honeymoon is over; not Obama's, but ours. We cried, we yelled, we screamed, we danced. Now we have to get to work.
Now we take that same fervor that lead us to man phone banks, campaign door-to-door, lick envelopes, hang posters, give money and wait for ours in the rain to vote, and we inject it into to Community Board meetings, Town Hall press conferences, and Planning and Zoning hearings.
We go to School Board meetings and address the lunacy of teaching our children in science class the world was created 6,000 years ago. We write letters to the editor correcting factual inaccuracies linking abortion to breast cancer, gay marriage to pedophilia, or global warming to natural causes.
And we correct people in conversation when they link the war in Iraq to 9/11. We complain to the police when our pharmacist won't fill our prescriptions. We immediately march down to the statehouse when a book is banned from or restricted in our libraries.
There is no triangulation with lies, suppression, greed, or discrimination.
Because the loonies will be back, and they will be bucking for the whole appalling mess to repeat itself, with new catchphrases, wedge issues and faces, carrying updated bios that say 'former aide to Stephen Hadley' or 'a key figure in WHIG,' or 'chief researcher for Alberto Gonzales.' There they'll be, delivering the updated, think-tank fresh versions of 'secure the borders,' and 'protect marriage' and 'the ownership society.'
As we embrace The Man Who Will Lead Us Out of Here let us not forgot the The Man Who Dumped Us Here.
And when some wide-eyed triangulator in a bar waxes pseudo-pundit and wistfully wonders if the former GOP presidential candidate might now go back to being 'the old John McCain,' rather than bask in the touchy-feely glow of the new political day dawning, ask him if he means the one from the Keating Five scandal.