I expected a lot of things when I woke up this morning and, thanks to the time difference, opened my New York Times to catch the electoral news. I anticipated seeing the GOP make massive gains, and I knew that, for all my “they’re-all-the-same” cynicism, I would feel totally despondent about it. They did, and I did. I did not expect, though, that I would wake up, by all accounts, a member of the tea party.
I cannot bring myself to accept the legitimacy of last night’s election. I cannot accept it because I do not believe anyone who believes that Barack Obama is a Muslim is of sufficient mental competence to cast a vote. I do not accept an election where, in my home state, squads of Tea Partyers lingered around polls under the auspices of checking identification, an act that deters not only naturalized Hispanics but also Native Americans, many of whom lack citizenship documents. I struggle to see functioning democracy in the myriad races where margins of victory were much smaller than the number of disenfranchised ex-felons in the district.
I do not want Barack Obama or his chastened Democratic allies to reach across the aisle. The much-vaunted moderation that voters claim they want is worthless. I do not believe that allowing gay men and women to openly serve in the military is an issue on which there is any space for compromise. I have very little interest in a more middle-ground occupation of Afghanistan. I do not want half of the uninsured to have health care. I hope that Barack Obama never finds the “Third Way” that led Bill Clinton to support welfare reform. I’d love to see Bi-Partisanship, insofar as it involves Republicans abandoning their shitty principles and policies in favor of our good ones.
I wish for our newly elected House majority to find itself stymied at every turn. I dream of a minority Democratic Party that votes in lockstep against every goddamn tax cut, cut to essential social services, or act of irresponsible deregulation the Republicans bring up. I want John Boehner to be humiliated politically and personally. I’d like to see his tenure to be one of complete failure. I’m curious if he can be made to cry genuine tears of frustration, not just contrived tears of gloating.
Like I said, I am the Tea Party. I deny that the winners have a mandate; I will brook no compromise with them, irrespective of their electoral victories; I’d rather see us deadlocked in acrimonious debate than moving forward.
Reflecting on this, of course, makes me wonder what I was thinking three days ago, watching the Rally to Restore Sanity. If only they would be civil and reasonable and moderate – if only we could just sit down and talk. Forget it. The problems that confront us are not the tone and volume of politics. The problem is the content of politics. For all the associated detritus, elections are ultimately about values. The wrong values won last night. Now is not the time for the eternal platitudes of losers (“Now let’s see you govern!”) or searching for some “We’re all patriots” bonhomie. It’s time to do what they did, which is make a compelling case for why our values—tolerance, comunitarianism, social equality—are better than theirs.