I am a Democrat.

No, really. Seriously. Ever since 1972, fercryingoutloud. Thirty years with a D next to my name. Thirty years of third-class mail from everyone from George McGovern to Paul Wellstone, a range which is even narrower than it sounds.

So what did I think of the election? We had it coming.

And it wasn't that hard to see it coming, even two years ago, when Al Gore, given every opportunity to look like a statesman in the infamous Florida debacle, decided it was better to look like an opportunist. How hard would it have been to ask for a recount of the entire state? But no, let's just count the counties which are most likely to fall our way. I don't remember any configuration of the Supreme Court in the last three decades which would have swallowed this line.

And then there were the slogans: "Selected, Not Elected"; "Commander-in-Thief". From people who visibly chafed when someone had the temerity to mock Bill Clinton, yet. George W. Bush was ridiculed as the second coming of J. Danforth Quayle. Verbal articulateness and intelligence were conflated, one mistaken for the other, when in fact they have a nodding acquaintance at best. You think you're smarter than Dubya? Send me a copy of your MBA grades from Harvard.

"He has no mandate," it was said of Bush the Younger at the end of 2000. How much of a mandate did Bill Clinton have in 1992, with 43 percent of the popular vote? The Republicans picked up about 53 percent of this year's votes for Congress and governorships; do they have a mandate yet?

And where are the Democratic candidates of the future? Do they even exist? In two Senatorial races, the Democratic Party made last-minute substitutions; the average age of the substitutes was seventy-six years. Are we supposed to be waiting for Strom Thurmond to come home after all those years?

I am a Democrat. Still. I don't regret it — today, anyway. But the guys at the top of the party hierarchy can be construed as "leaders" only in the sense that they're spliced to the front of the reel; they've learned nothing in the last two years. And if they learn nothing in the next two years, the nation's oldest political party will be on its deathbed, still wondering why.

And finally, for the benefit of certain individuals, many of whom claim membership in the Democratic Party, calling themselves "progressive" or some other questionable term, a word about Marx: if he wasn't in Duck Soup, eschew him.

The Vent

9 November 2002

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 Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill