(Only Half-Facetiously...)

By Carah Marie Helwig


It’s time for a good old-fashioned

progressive cerebral beatdown. 

We have the documentation. 

We have the light of Truth. 

Most importantly,  we have the people behind us,

whether or not the Pubs want to admit it.

Let’s get to it!



Forces Are Conspiring Against Us?


We liberals have been confiding our fears in one another over the past few months.  While a lot of what has been said is somewhat discouraging, that won’t prevent me from adding my $0.02.


Despite everything that has happened since sElection 2000, my idealistic soul still dreams of the day when our nation triumphs over its adversities.  We may have to toil a bit over the next three years and ten months (not that I’m counting), and as a result we may occasionally need to take time out to vent and complain.  Just a little.


All the kkkrap currently being churned out in the GOP Washington sausage factory seems unbelievably dreadful; however, it does give webpage phreaks and Internet activists plenty of ammunition.  I am twisted enough to enjoy being so occupied, but the Republican agenda of ‘compassionate conservatism’ does not encourage what was once my very healthy optimism.  I’d rather not have a need for my documentation of Dubya’s Very Bad Things, or a need to sarcastically rip into Mitch McConnell’s campaign finance idiocy, or a need to put up firewalls on my PC to defend myself against hateful, virus-spreading freepers.  Yet such is reality, and I must deal with it.


My Many Unanswered Questions and Various Other Observations


1.      Dubya is trying to destroy the legal profession just as I am about to start law school.  Will there be a future in the law for Carah?  Will Alan Dershowitz be deported and walled up in the Bastille?  Will Gerry Spence buy a non-Southwestern themed jacket?  Will Orrin Hatch be anointed to the U.S. Supreme Court and finally tell us ‘who ate the cabbage’ (obscure Hill/Thomas reference)?  And why does the Shrub think it’s okay for him to utilize counselors and jurists to steal an election, but it’s not okay for Joe and Jane American to sue multinational corporations and HMOs?


2.      Did anyone else watch that show on Fox about the ‘moon conspiracy’?  (I know lefties aren’t supposed to be watching anything spawned from Rupert, but you try giving up The Simpsons and Malcolm in the Middle.  Good Luck!)  Interesting nutcase-type stuff.   And I thought I was insane.   These people have even the ‘minorities and women secretly rule the world’ folks beat!   Did we really land on the moon?   Was Walter Cronkite involved in a mass fooling of the American public engineered by those oh-so-sneaky NASA goons?   Why am I so fascinated by astronaut ice cream?   Does John Glenn know the secrets of the moon hoax or the recipe for freeze-dried mint chocolate chip?  Why isn’t he talking?


3.      Dubya wants everyone to be good little Christians.   Not Muslims or Jews or Scientologists or even (sniffle) members of my newly established Church of Guy Smiley, just (Protestant) Christians.  I wish he would do us all a favor and admit it.   I’d feel so much better about my damnation.  And isn’t it a sad day when liberals and Pat Robertson agree on something?   Who would have seen that ‘faith-based initiative’ coming?


4.      The statement Dubya made in regard to Pope John Paul II and the ‘culture of life’ last week is causing quite a storm among progressive Catholics.  I originally found it hard to believe that he had even said it (it was obviously the work of a speechwriter, because he ain’t that gifted an extemporaneous speaker).   Here’s the quote:


"The Pope reminds us that while freedom defines our nation, responsibility must define our lives. He challenges us to live up to our aspirations, to be a fair and just society where all are welcomed, all are valued, and all are protected. And he is never more eloquent than when he speaks for a culture of life. The culture of life is a welcoming culture, never excluding, never dividing, never despairing, and always affirming the goodness of life in all its seasons. In the culture of life we must make room for the stranger. We must comfort the sick. We must care for the aged.  We must welcome the immigrant. We must teach our children to be gentle with one another. We must defend in love the innocent child waiting to be born."


The day a man who has signed over 120 death warrants, spoken at Bob Jones University, and repeatedly cut funding for social programs invokes the name of the spiritual leader of my faith and tries to tell me about ‘respect’ for life, that is the day I get very, very self-righteous.


5.      ‘If You Build the Recession, It Will Come’:  Some of the highlights from the Bushocracy during the past week included the bipolar articles that ran in succession in my local paper. 


Monday:  I pore over all the juicy details of that very ‘necessary’ and very non-middle class tax cut.  (Note: I must reiterate here that said tax cut doesn’t even include single folks like me who make between $6,000.00 and $25,000.00 a year.  But I’m not bitter.  I was planning on using that extra cash to purchase a package of yummy Marshmallow Peeps.  I guess I will have to suffer without.)


Tuesday:  I peruse an AP story stating that Congress is concerned about ‘not having enough money’ to pay for new Medicare programs.   I hate to point out inconsistencies in the reasoning of our very competent public servants, but if you GOP kids weren’t insisting on such a DAMN BIG tax cut you wouldn’t have to worry about Medicare funding! 


Later That Week:  I explode at the dinner table, which prompts my parents (who are relatively desensitized to my erratic behavior but still just a bit annoyed by it) to announce that I need to calm down.  I think they’re getting a little alarmed about my mental stability.  (The madre is permanently worried about my sardonic attacks on the Republican Establishment and anxiously longs for the day I put my webpage on semi-hiatus and leave for the straight-laced influences of Notre Dame; right now she thinks I’m treading in dangerous waters and asking for trouble.  I say bring it on!)  Needless to say, that pesky self-righteous bug had struck again.


6.      Recently some of us activists have been discussing what the ‘defining moment’ of the campaign was for us, meaning the split second when that last bit of straw provided the political weight to break our backs.   That day came rather early for me, and everything since then has added just a bit more arsenic to my tap water.  I was one of the post-election unemployed; with nothing else better to do, I found myself glued to the TV for about three weeks in mid-November when the drama was at its peak.  I watched Dubya appear on the screen and tell me that the “legislative branch makes the laws, and the executive interprets.”   It was then I finally understood the evil plans he had for my chosen profession and the judicial arm of the federal government.  I also then knew with certainty that this inarticulate, inconsiderate man (who apparently has little to no grasp of junior high civics) will never have any intellectually legitimate claim to the right to run our country.   Of course, back then I was (double sniffle) still holding out hope for Al!


7.      Will Dick Cheney have yet another heart-related mishap?   Why has he had three times more heart attacks than my heart disease-prone family?  Will Eminem have it out with Lynne over his lyrics (and will Tipper ever-so-graciously step in to save her if necessary)?  When will Rudy Giuliani start recruiting his brownshirts to burn down all the museums in New York?  Will Laura Bush ever learn that wearing belts over dress jackets is horrendously outdated?   How come Jenna gets to go one toke over the line but I can’t?  Can anyone help me deal with my totally irrational fear of the puppet in the Domino’s Pizza ads?   The major media hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of these matters (unless you count Fox News, where they discuss pertinent issues o’ the day for hours on end without really saying anything at all).




So what’s the point of all this?  Just that I think that it is indeed time to go self-righteous.  Not insultingly or moralistically self-righteous, but self-righteous enough to know that we are standing for what is socially, economically, and politically just, and we absolutely refuse to apologize for it.  It’s time for a good old-fashioned progressive cerebral beatdown.  We have the documentation.  We have the light of Truth.  Most importantly, we have the people behind us, whether or not the Pubs want to admit it.  Let’s get to it!


The biggest obstacle to our victory in the battle over discourse is the lack of open communication between the two sides.  The gap between us is largely one of perception rather than ideology.  Not all Republicans process thoughts the same way (and I have several GOP friends that can definitely attest to that), but many ultra-conservatives do.  If you are fortunate enough to find an open-minded conservative that is willing to dialogue with you, do it!   Those on the Right who won’t deal with the Left respectfully and decently do not have any interest in furthering American ideals anyway.   At the very least, debating with the other side can help us seek to understand what divides us, learn how to effectively disarm their arguments, and harness some of that moral outrage of which they seem to be so fond.


Of course, we also have to let our intensity subside and giggle a little.  Aside from the wonderful satires that occasionally pop up on the progressive Internet, we don’t always have the chance to do that.  And yes, I know that many of my own diatribes (including this one) might be interpreted as a tad disorganized and/or terribly insane.  This doesn’t make me a raving lunatic.  It just makes me a super fun person to be around.


At least I don’t go spouting off about the so-called ‘moon landing,’ the secret control of the world by women and minorities, and the ‘murder’ of Vince Foster; I don’t spit on homeless people, seek to destroy the environment, or divert funds from social services to pay for tax cuts and state-subsidized religious outreach; I don’t try to tear dedicated public servants of either party apart by exposing their personal lives (which are none of our business) to the world; I don’t distort the legacy of JFK, RFK, FDR, or any other damn fine Democratic leader; I don’t want to put Ronald Reagan’s name on anything except a list of our worst presidents; I don’t bomb federal buildings and hoard my weapons at a compound somewhere in the Rockies; I don’t crucify gay residents of Wyoming; and I don’t drag African Americans down Texas dirt roads by a chain attached to the back of my truck, either. 


I’ll tell you what I am able to do.  I can fight for all-access passes to the wonderful opportunities this country is capable of providing, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or creed; I can advocate for the right of every child to a quality education despite his or her geographic location; I can continue to express my belief that we can only solve the myriad social problems that exist within our borders when we finally get down to the difficult questions that so often go unanswered; I can eternally commit myself to exposing the hypocrisies and changing the course of the American political system; and most importantly, I can give my fellow citizens the benefit of the doubt, for I have faith that most of them are goodhearted people who agree with the ideals of the progressive movement, even if the media is constantly misinterpreting our proposals.


I suppose this makes me one of those misguided counterculture McGoverniks.  So be it.


To my brothers and sisters in the struggle, I wish to leave you not with thoughts of the daunting tasks that lie ahead, but with a little joy and hope for the future.  In the words of the Indigo Girls, “You have to laugh about life sometimes, because you’d cry your eyes out if you didn’t.”  We can fan the fires of activism as well as kill our opposition with kindness if need be.  We have supporters in all the people in the world who believe in justice.  All the rest can take a flying leap.