Imagine for one minute that you wake up the day after Election Day this year and the horrible has happened: Republicans have captured new majorities in the U.S. House and Senate.
Do you want to look back and wish that you remembered to vote or volunteer or contribute?
I sure as hell don't.
If you and I have regrets the day after the election here is what will have happened.
- Speaker Pelosi will have been replaced by Speaker Boehner.
- Prominent progressive chairs of important committees will lose their gavels. Of the twenty standing committees in the U.S. House, ten of them are chaired by members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
- Progressive champions like Rep. Alan Grayson would be gone. Senator Russ Feingold, one of the great defenders of the U.S. Constitution, would have lost his race.
- The likelihood of comprehensive legislation to address climate change or create a boom in renewable energies will all but disappear.
- The push for Social Security privatization will be revived under a Republican Congress.
- The minimum wage and unemployment benefits and Medicare will all come under new attacks from the Republican Congress.
- The good parts of health care reform and financial reform will be slowly weakened until they're meaningless -- and the hope of improving these pieces of landmark legislation will be tossed aside.
- The drumbeat of concerns or opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer -- no hearings, no tough questions about the budgets.
- The push for equality for LGBT Americans and populations of color will get zero attention in these new Congresses as they revive decades-old attacks on Civil Rights.
- Tom DeLay-style corruption will have an open door. Rep. John Boehner, the likely new Speaker, has said he wants to look at doing away with the Office of Congressional Ethics.
- And with two years until the presidential election, you better believe that Republican-controlled committees in Congress will launch pointless investigations of President Obama and the Obama Administration in order to grab headlines and create false scandals.
I don't want to have any regrets the day after the election. I don't want to be part of letting all of these bad things happen. Do you?
Let me be clear that I do not share some dogmatic belief that Democrats are perfect or that the legislation or reforms of the last two years have pulled America up again. Not yet at least. I've been frustrated or disappointed with several positions taken by the administration or by an absence of leadership in some areas. I've also been excited, happy or encouraged by some policy changes.
But you know what, it is perfectly normal and OK to hold two seemingly contradictory feelings: frustration and a desire that Democrats kick some Republican butt on Election Day.
This is just like how a parent can be angry with the child they love. But there is no way in hell you're going to let somebody come into your house and push your kid around.
These new Tea Party Republicans are going to make Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay look like socialists.
Do you want to have these regrets? Or do you want to know that you did everything you could? In the end, that is really the choice each of us has whether we're progressive, liberal, moderate, Democrat, Independent, a third party or even conservative.
I know what I'm choosing: no regrets.