I just noticed that I've reached post number fifty here on Sentiments. Huzzah! Now all I need is a readership...
A few items of note:
1. Crashing the Gate. Read this book. It's a delightful indictment of the Democratic Party Establishment and how the new progressive netroots movement is poised to gain control of the party.
I'm really starting to feel like we're on to something big here, the beginning of a movement that will change American politics for the better. It took conservatives 30 years to build a majority, but they've totally blown it. No one's talking about permanent Republican majorities very much these days.
What we need, more than anything, is publicly funded campaigns. The new populist movement among the Democrats is partially, as Markos and Jerome argue in CtG, a result of the 2002 McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act. Democrats were cut off from soft money contributions so they had to start reaching out to their base again. In time, as the party grows more (small-d) democratic, so too may the country.
Also, Russ Feingold is even cooler than you've heard. This guy's the real deal. He's a man of principle, who has refused to kowtow to big corporate donors, even though it put him at a disadvantage in some of his campaigns. The Dems hated him for McCain-Feingold, but it should do a world of good in the long run.
And that, really, is the encouraging thing about CtG. They're rather light on policy suggestions, and are largely interested in doing what it takes to win even if it means occasional compromise on some issues, because their real interest is in creating a unified progressive movement that can compete in 50 states, in every election, regardless of how red the local electorate may be.
This makes the Republicans have to work harder to preserve their own seats, and challenges the conventional wisdom about what is or isn't winnable. Similarly, by compromising in the short term, all of these single-issue groups that now dominate the Dems have a better chance to promote their issues down the line, when a progressive majority is established. As we've seen, there's no longer such a thing as a principled Republican. Even Joe Lieberman (*shudder*) is better than any GOP alternative.
Reading it has made me optimistic about the medium-term future. Barring obscene voting irregularities, I think the Dems will take back the House, and gain seats in the Senate--if they're really lucky, they could take it back too.
And because this is a populist movement, there will be more of a push to implement sensible pro-democracy policies that are now squashed by the elites who control the political establishment: secure and reliable voting, public campaign financing, national healthcare, alternative energy initiatives, a living wage for all workers, and higher taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals to pay for it all.
A pipe dream now, perhaps, but we're in this for the long haul.
2. How Would A Patriot Act? I've also finished reading this recently. Also recommended. Greenwald is great at laying out the constitutional and legal issues clearly to show how radical and unAmerican King George and his regime really are. It's a short book, and cheap, but also highly worth reading for its big picture focus.
Terrorism, as Glenn and a number of bloggers have been arguing lately, is not more dangerous a crisis than any of the others we've faced in our history: the Revolution, the Civil War, even the Cold War--these were times in which our existence as a nation was truly imperiled. The War on Terror is a farce. More than anything, it's a propaganda campaign to keep us scared while we're stripped of the freedoms that make being an American worthwhile.
That's not to say that there isn't a threat posed by Islamic terrorists; surely there is. But we must keep it in perspective. And there's no reason to believe that we need to give up our privacy and our free way of life to defend against it. Most of us are in no immediate danger.
George W. Bush is really the one who "hates our freedom". What kind of unprincipled coward is so willing to save his miserable little life that he would forfeit everything that generations of Americans have fought and died to preserve?
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
3. While I have reached a minor milestone here, I find myself but days away from personally hitting the quarter-century mark.
And I think I'm still on the upward slope. After a point, I know things will go downhill, but I feel like I've got a good 5 or 10 years of youth left. I've peaked late, but I'm really starting to make up for past missed opportunities. I predict that my upcoming 26th year shall be the best yet!
This calls for a celebration! (And one shall be had, I can assure you of that!)