What's maybe the most pressing issue in our current predicament is that we lost the oars back on November 2nd. While oars give us the ability to propel the canoe forward, most importantly, oars provide steerage. Right now, with our canoe hurtling down the river at breakneck speed, we have no way to turn toward safe harbor. We're at the mercy of the rapids. Some of us in the canoe are even of the mind that there's a big waterfall right around the next bend in the river.
By this time, you're no doubt thinking I've gone off my metaphorical rocker. Let me 'splain.
One major mistake made during this past election cycle was concentrating and expending so much effort on sending Dubya back to Crawford. George Bush is only the figurehead that sits on top of a much larger problem. What we've given the GOP is at least two more years of unobstructed ability to quicken the rapids even further.
I certainly took the bait as much as anyone else. Six months ago, I should have been pile driving the concept that more than deposing the Boy King, we needed to get at least one house of congress back into the fold. It wasn't that John Kerry needed a friendly congress to work with (as I and most other progressives were framing it) - control of the House or the Senate were the oars we really needed to provide some canoe steerage regardless of who was leading us down the river. A President Kerry was not going to, even in the best case scenario, significantly calm the waters in the short term.
But I'm just one lone backwater progressive blogger shouting into mostly a void of bits and bytes. Left Blogistan is awash in caterwauling over lousy Democratic Party leadership in various aspects of the past election. In retrospect, the lack of foresight in recognizing (and communicating) the need for steerage is perhaps the single most glaring failure of party leadership.
Maybe this failure also says a lot about us, as Americans, not fully appreciating the role and power of the legislative branch of government. The constitutional framers understood the need for steerage way back in the 18th century - the legislative branch was established and empowered specifically to avoid consolidation of unfettered power in a single figurehead.
With George Bush as the lightening rod, focus on the bigger picture was blurred, if not totally lost. Of all the changes that need to be made in progressive leadership approach over the next few years, concentrating on regaining steerage is clearly the most imperative.
And that's where my five day recovery plan for despondent progressives comes into play. The election is past - and the holidays are bearing down upon us. Focus will be lost. There is no time like the present to take a few minutes over then next five days and consider the next steps that need to be taken to regain at least some modicum of steerage, even working with what little we have to work with.
So here's my personal blueprint. I'll be explaining each step in detail over the next five days, and how each applies to the concept of regaining steerage:
- Write a letter to my congressperson.
- Thank a young voter.
- Schedule a "Turn off your TV" day.
- Change my party registration.
By this time next week, progressive activists everywhere need to be ready to jump back into the game.
Update, 10:05AM: Buried in the comments to a thread below, sukabi posted a link to a great Buzzflash reader contribution. Consider it your essential reading for the day...