The last two years have been quite a ride. The beginning of that two year period started in January, 2008. Super Tuesday was fast approaching. I was still a nominal Edwards supporter, although I had been leaning towards Obama for a while. I got on board after Super Tuesday. That’s when the real primary battles heated up. They stayed like that until Clinton conceded in June. Then we had to deal with the PUMA backlash. Time that should have been spent on kicking into general election mode was spent on repairing party unity. The Democrats were still dealing with bruised egos when Palin burst on the scene. Things got really nutty after that.
The Moose was born out of that perfect storm of politics. The first diaries were posted on motleymoose.com about two months before the election. We agonized over every drop in a poll. We clapped with glee when things went our way. And, we watched the flameout of the ex-Governor of Alaska. Fun times, indeed.
The polling looked good going into election day. I was fairly sure that Obama was going to win. But I’ve been fooled by polls before. I wasn’t taking anything for granted. When election day came, I followed every twist and turn. I didn’t relax until some county (I forget which) in Indiana went for Obama. A county that had gone for Bush twice. One that hadn’t voted for the Democrat in a really long time. The rest of the night was pretty much anti-climatic.
The satisfaction I felt from the victory that night didn’t quite make up for the loss in 2004, but it sure felt good. It had been twelve years since I had felt that glow of victory. Every political win is something to be treasured, because there have been too few wins over the years.
The first came in 1964 when I worked with the Young Democrats. I was only seventeen that year. I wasn’t able to vote, but I could work for the cause. Local party headquarters love young volunteers. Someone has to set up chairs for meetings and clean up afterwards. That was my intro into politics.
It’s been a long, often frustrating road since then. There have been ups and downs. More downs than ups. Yet, here I am – still hanging on.
It hasn’t been easy. I endured the pain of the Kennedy assassinations. The following years were filled with many setbacks and small triumphs as the nation went through the agony of an unpopular war abroad and the upheaval of the civil rights battle. I’ve lived through the Nixon years and the setbacks under Carter. My passion for politics survived the lurch to the right under Reagan and Bush I and the silliness of the 90’s. I watched George Wallace, Ross Perot, and Ralph Nader come and go. Then, with a new century, came G. W. Bush.
There were many times during those years when I became disillusioned and felt like giving up the battle. The one thing that kept me going was the realization that politics matter.
Politics affect almost everything in our lives, from the food we eat and the air we breathe to the medicines we put in our body and the morals we live by. Our tax dollars can be spent to make life better or to kill innocent people in foreign lands. They can be spent to win hearts and minds around the globe or to pay for prison camps and torture. On a more local level, politics determines the quality of our schools, the success or failure of our cities and towns, the local job climate, and even garbage pickup. Politics matter.
Now we are in a new year with a fairly new president and politics matter more than ever. Our country is stumbling through a landscape filled with challenges. Our health care system is on an unsustainable path. We have become entangled in foreign adventures that may end badly and cause damage we can’t even foresee. The future moral fiber of our society hangs in the balance. The future holds many perils, yet some people want to give up and disengage from politics at the moment when their efforts are needed the most.
Now is not the time to give up. The troops under George Washington could have walked away that winter in Valley Forge, yet they fought on and eventually won. Their courage and sacrifice changed the world in ways that none of them could even imagine. We can do the same.
There is a saying in sports that holds equally true for politics. When it comes down to crunch time, winners want the ball. Well, the ball is in our court. This is our chance to shine. Are you going to holler for the ball or are you going to sit in the bleachers and watch from the sidelines?