I’m afraid to look! Did we win? You’re reading this column in the blinding light of electoral revelation; I’m writing it in the interminable dark hours between pushing the flashing red (for: Warning! No paper trail! Kiss this thing goodbye!) “Vote” button and the final returns. I can’t buy presents too far in advance of the gifting day because I can’t stand waiting to give them, so you know I don’t vote early. Agonize for days to find out if I made a difference this time? I’d be wound tighter than an evangelical preacher’s a … nevermind.
But on that last flat note, I’m going to imagine that we (meaning liberals, natch) have won, and that it’s time to make like Republicans and pretend we have a mandate even if we squeaked in by a mere algorithm. So, fasten your seatbelts you moderate swing voters, here’s a liberal agenda you can coffee klatch about for the next two years (and may they be long, happy, and prosperous ones, too).
1. Repeal the detainee bill passed in October and restore habeas corpus to all citizens and wards of the U.S. Maybe you haven’t noticed the full effects yet, but it’s demoralizing to live in a first-world democracy that’s behaving like a backwater dictatorship. What did we fight the Cold War for if not to preserve those dearly held freedoms of association, speech, and press? (That’s a rhetorical question; pretend that it’s a contract. Freedom is what Kissinger, Reagan, et al promised you, and freedom, by God, is what I damn well want.)
2. Speaking of the Cold War, it’s time to retire its warriors to the amber fields reserved for fallen leaders. While some terrorists are real, the War on Terror is, like the Cold War, an unlimited hall pass for the administration to dispatch our soldiers and Constitution with equal carelessness in pursuit of their own political and economic dominance.
If you needed further proof: Bush signed a law last week that shuttered the Iraqi auditor’s office that tattled on Halliburton and other contractors who were robbing the U.S. treasury while engaging in shoddy business practices — right after auditor (and former Texas assistant AG) Stuart Bowen told Congress that the military couldn’t account for a large stockpile of weapons. When you think about it, getting rid of Bowen is almost zen in its perfection: Bush got to add more kindling to the Iraqi bonfire that he lit while taking care of his corporate buddies. So, for starters: Rumsfeld out to pasture.
3. Or perhaps someplace less comfy. What in the name of all that’s democratic is Ahmad Chalabi doing smiling on the cover of the New York Times Magazine? I suppose I’d be smiling like the Cheshire Cat, too, if I deserved to be in prison but was instead wearing bespoke suits and appearing as a guest on Fresh Air. Chalabi pulled the mother of all false fire alarms — at the very least we need to put him and his conspirators on trial. Otherwise, we’re conceding that it’s OK to fabricate evidence in geopolitical games — and that might be even more demoralizing than accepting the demise of habeas corpus.
4. It’s time for the evangelicals to follow Jesus’s example and tend to their own souls first. The fallen, morally bankrupt religious leader has become enough of a cliché that eyebrows weren’t raised so much as snickers were heard when Ted Haggard failed his lie-detector test last week. I absolutely respect the right of citizens to practice religion, but get the moral battles out of the courtrooms — let go of Roe, stop persecuting non-heterosexuals who are trying to live open lives, stop trying to pass off “intelligent design” as science.
5. With the right-wing, anti-American cultural agenda off the table, we need to turn our attention to saving Iraq, if we can, from a civil war. After Rummy is packed off to a minimum-security golf course, we can bring in some fresh leadership that’s actually interested in a peaceful Middle East — even one that’s in control of its own oil supply. Finding a way to distribute bread and roses seems like a good idea; look how complacent Americans have become under prosperity.
6. Correct everything else that’s been headed the way-wrong direction for the past six years: Really invest in alternative fuels and take the lead on reducing Global Warming; address equal-opportunity issues such as education and childhood nutrition; and on and on.
Finally, you’ll note that vote fraud has been a thread in this column; no matter who won yesterday, we need to take steps to make the vote reliable and traceable. In too many places, from the grocery store to the boardroom, I hear people questioning the validity of our recent elections — just one more way in which Bush Amalgamated has diminished a once-proud democracy. So, have a relaxing glass of wine or beer, go to bed early, and get up ready to work tomorrow; there’s much to do.