So, I'm working on my wooly-headed liberal university professor cousin. He of the "Kerry/Edwards" bumper-sticker sporting, door-to-door campaigning, Democrat-believing ilk. I think I'm making progress.
I wrote him a gentle yet insistent missive, maintaining that Kerry should have fought til the last votes were counted. He didn't disagree.
Unfortunately, though, there are still a lot of people willing to cut the Democrats slack, willing to declare Kerry a good candidate who just couldn't defeat the supposedly all-powerful Christian fundies, etc. That seems to be the favorite rationalization lately for the Democrats' ignominious downfall. Anything but that they were incompetent, cowardly careerists. Anything to hide the truth and keep the deluded faithful in line, lest they actually start getting uppity and thinking independently.
I think it's our duty as radicals (as those who read indymedia tend to be) to speak to these people, who are rather vulnerable right now, feeling quite pissed off and powerless, and give them something to get energized and positive about. Bitter recriminations and accusations are out of place. That will only make them still more defensive about Kerry and the Democrats.
Instead, it's time to make the point to them that Kerry's strategy has simply not worked, and is illogical on grounds of both practicality and principle. Here's how:
As a practical matter, if your real political goal is something other than advancing your own personal career, you don't concede while CNN is still reporting 6 million votes left uncounted! You don't concede while there are numerous credible reports of major irregularities and probable fraud. Nevermind what the rightwing corporate media are saying. Nevermind whether the same Supreme Court that shot Gore down will shoot you down too.
If your plans are to fight for your constituents, you start doing it from the beginning. That sets the whole tone for the future. If your plans are to capitulate and sink into the corrupt cesspool of "buy-partisanship," then there's no better way than to give up without a fight from the very beginning. What better predictor could there be for the Democrats' future behavior?
As a matter of principle, those uncounted votes were not Kerry's to throw away or give to his opponents. Those votes were the expression of the sovereign democratic rights of millions of Americans. All those people at the grassroots who gave of their time, money, and energy should have had some say as to whether those famous "armies of lawyers" got mobilized. Instead, without the slightest accountability to their constituents, Kerry and Edwards called the whole thing off. Indefensible.
If anything positive could come out of this debacle, it might be the final disillusionment of too many gullible, well-meaning liberals. Now we have a chance to redirect these energies into channels where they could have an effect. (For example: "A bold new civil liberties strategy for Portland," http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/11/302927.shtml).