In the rush from day to day, each seemingly filled with a new outrage, sometimes it can be difficult to feel that anything we do on the internet can make the least bit of difference. After all, as our critics on the Right and in the mainstream press are fond of reminding us, we have lost far more battles than we have won. Howard Dean, Paul Hackett, Ciro Rodriguez, the Alito nomination and most telling the 2004 Presidential election. Worst of all, DNC style democrats still rule the roost, despite their history of losses in Congress and in so many state and local offices across our great Union.
Our complaints about election fraud have been generally ignored or met with outright disdain. The War in Iraq continues rolling relentlessly on from one mind numbing death to another. Veterans benefits are still being slashed by the very Congress the “Support the Troops” crowd put back in office. The twin deficits (trade and the National debt) grow ever larger even as the corporate media ignores their implications for our future. Another war, this time with Iran, still seems inevitable. Many Americans still ignore the dangers of global warming. The Medicare (D)isaster still rumbles toward a surfeit of fiscal and personal catastrophes.
So why do I assert, in the face of such a disheartening record of accomplishment, that anything we say or do here matters? For one simple reason: each of you. You now recognize the importance of politics in your lives. You have learned that the conventional wisdom generated by the favored mavens of the pundit class, whether in print or on television, can no longer to be trusted. You have taken steps to educate yourself about the events that affect your lives and the lives of those you care about. In short, you have been awakened from the trance that grips so many of our fellow Americans, and that mere fact of your awareness is making a difference.
Indeed, you are changing reality as we speak.
Democratic politicians now court you for the money you can bring to their campaigns and for the buzz you can generate on their behalf. They also fear you, afraid that you might just catch them shoveling the same old bullshit, exposing them for their own hypocrisy and lack of passion and commitment to the progressive causes you care about.
Pundits on television and in the press now take you into account, even as they deride your influence. They are rightly afraid of your refusal to accept their bland pronouncements as pearls of wisdom, and angry at your criticism of their misuse of their position.
Reporters claim to ignore you, even as they are forced to cover stories that you have kept alive through sheer doggedness and determination: the Downing Street memos, the murderous use of White phosphorus in Fallujah, the Jeff Gannon story, and Stephen Colbert’s smackdown of President Bush at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, to name but a few examples.
But even these are minor compared to the true value of an awakened mind. Many of you have become activists, attending protest marches, sending letters to the editor, creating and promoting campaigns to target specific causes or specific politicians demanding action and accountability.
Others of you now devote time spreading the word to family, friends and neighbors that the truth is not what they have been led to believe by Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Sinclair Broadcasting and the ready chorus of thousands of paid for right wing demagogues. Bush does lie, people have died and our nation is in peril, not only from the foreign terrorists but from the despots who have hijacked our government, and because of you that message is being heard.
Bit by steady bit, your efforts, both words and deeds, have worn away the veneer of propaganda that hides the true nature of these incompetent fanatics who now lord over us. Steadily Bush’s popularity has been eroded until he has now entered the place where only Richard Nixon has gone before. Despite the intimidation, despite the propaganda, despite the exploitation of the tragedy of 9/11, Bush, and the Republican Congress that has enabled his most egregious abuses, is supported by fewer and fewer people each day that passes. And much of that accomplishment should rightly be laid to rest at your feet.
The truth is that for too long in this country we have been asleep to the dangers and abuses of our government, and to a political system which nurtured two parties, one on the extreme right, and one seemingly less conservative only by comparison. Both of these parties have been, and still are, captives of lobbyists and corporate cash, and both have served the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Through your efforts, and those like you, here and across the blogosphere, that is changing. You, each of you, is the agent of that change.
It may seem hopeless some days, the fresh onslaught of outrages may seem overwhelming at times, but ask yourself this question: Would you really rather still be slumbering, adrift in a cloud of apathy and cynicism, or would you rather be as you are now, awake to the danger to our Republic and doing what you can to fight against it?
I think I know your answer.