ELECTION DAY -- It really is the greatest day -- or at least it should be. It should be a celebration of democracy. Unfortunately, the media and the blogosphere are rife with stories that really give one pause to consider the health of our 'democracy.' There are tales of ballot machines that are malfunctioning and switching votes -- lending credence and substance to fears that some machines could be and would be be rigged. There is a frightening multitude of reports about a wide range of the most despicable dirty tricks. It seems the G.O.P. has reached deep into its bag and pulled out every dirty trick imaginable.
The dirty tricks include automated harassing phone calls ("robo-calls") designed to convince voters they are being badgered by Democratic candidates; duplicitous flyers, including the one that falsely implies endorsements of Michael Steele by certain Democratic African-Americans, who have not endorsed him; There are other voter suppression tactics -- often targeted at African-American households -- like calls in Virginia to registered Democrats suggesting they might be arrested if they vote (the transcript of one such call, recorded on an answering machine, is rapidly circulating through the net), or calls, purportedly from the Webb campaign, falsely telling voters their voting place has changed. Then, there is the manual handed to Republican poll-watchers, instructing them to challenge as many voters as possible -- challenge their right to vote. These are just the locally-reported 'repug-lican' tactics. These shenanigans are duplicated and expanded throughout the country.
We keep hearing about our sick political culture and the unbridgeable chasm between the parties in Congress. Is it any wonder the parties can't find a way to work together after the elections? This raging river of bad blood is fed by the tributaries of despicable, criminal behavior during the elections.
We need change in America. We need change in Government. We need change in the Republican Party, which has become a criminal operation aimed at little else beyond the perpetuation of its power, as well as the unlawful and grotesque enrichment of the powerfully connected.
The country needs a period of Democratic rule -- to right our ship of state; to implement the policies necessary to restore fiscal sanity to the budget and cut into our incredible, mounting debt; to jump-start our country's technology sector to address the climate crisis; to reestablish our nation's preeminent position of worldwide respect, grossly squandered by too many years of jingoistic sloganeering and unilateralism by Republicans; to reset the constitutional balance of power between the branches; to give meaning again to the separation of church and state, taking religion out of politics -- and politics out of religion; to, in a few words, make our politics responsive and responsible again...and, just maybe, honest, as well.
Some day, the Grand Old Party may really clean house. That will mean abandoning the party's contemptible, base pandering over the last 25 years on racial issues and tax policy, as well as the unilateral, xenophobic, jingoistic rhetoric that only serves to make Americans seem like ignorant, closed-minded buffoons, in the eyes of the rest of the world. Cleaning house will mean a new agenda that embraces the diversity of our nation -- on race, religion, language, and a host of other social issues that Republicans have used to divide and conquer.
The G.O.P. once could be proud of its history and its platform. That is no longer the case. Their leaders preach policies and morality they do not believe in or practice at home. They have become a party of cynicism, hypocrisy and duplicity...and bankrupt policies. They may hope to continue to pull the wool over the eyes of a large segment of society -- and so maintain the control they prize above all else. But, they have been exposed now for all the world to see. The Emperor stands naked, and most Americans will no longer pretend otherwise.
Republicans need to ask themselves serious questions about what kind of country they really want...and they need to transform into a party that is truly interested in the public good. Until they do that, they have no moral right to ask Americans to vote for them. A few years ago, Democrats were accused of being a regional party, instead of a national party. The truth is that the nation is ready to vote for Democrats. The Democrats are the party with a "50-state strategy." It is the G.O.P that has become a regional party. Their brand of ultra-conservatism has made them persona non grata in the Northeast. That should be a signal of the need to radically transform the party.
Democrats are just now emerging from their own period of soul-searching and reinvention. They are forging a strong, new and broad coalition, as they develop a consensus on a range of issues. They are once again discovering their voice, their purpose and their message. The Democrats may or may not take back control of the Congress with today's vote. More importantly, the country will be taking a huge, transformational step. That step will stretch into a full journey, in two years, when the Democrats elect the next President, who will work with a progressive majority in both houses to move our country back in the right -- forward -- direction.
It's Election Day -- the greatest day. We can take back control of our government from the robber-barons and the grossly incompetent -- without having battles in the streets. We don't have car bombs, but we do have dirty tricks. This is serious business, but elections can be fought honorably and honestly. We can do democracy better than we do today. And we can surely do policy better than we have over the past six years. Vote for change -- vote for Democrats.