Saturday, December 27, 2008

Change I can believe in

I wonder if any of you can remember your life in politics before 2000? Before we were loaded with one outrage after another to the point that it became difficult to keep up?

I remember Monica and impeachment (ha-ha) and the "vast right-wing-conspiracy." But things get more fuzzy when I try to think about what issues were on the table, or which ones were off the table and we were trying to get them on.

The reason I'm going down this memory lane is that I'm doing my best to try to imagine a world without Bushco. And its hard to get there. I feel like I've been fighting them with almost everything I've got for so long that I can't imagine a world where that isn't a centering theme. But its about to happen.

I don't mean to say that there won't be political battles to fight. That has never been the case and I doubt very much that it ever will be. But I also don't want to dismiss the magnitude of the change that is about to happen.

I can hear it all now though. Those of you who want to say that Obama's policies are not THAT different. That's not my point - even if I disagree. What I'm thinking about is how I've ordered my political life around the outrage I feel at people like Bush, Cheney, et al. And they are about to disappear from the stage of power. We got a bit of that when folks like Rumsfeld and Gonzales resigned. Where are they now and what are they doing? Who knows and who cares? That's about to happen to Bush and Cheney.

So its a starting over...almost from scratch when it comes to the Executive Branch of our government. Oh, and while we're at it, lets take a look at one of the Legislative branches, the Senate. Over 1/4 of them are new to the body since 2006.

1. Sen. Barrasso, John (R-WY)
2. Sen. Begich, Mark (D-AK)*
3. Sen. Brown, Sherrod (D-OH)
4. Sen. Cardin, Benjamin (D-MD)
5. Sen. Casey, Robert (D-PA)
6. Sen. Corker, Bob (R-TN)
7. Sen. Hagan, Kay (D-NC)*
8. Sen. Johanns, Mike (R-NE)*
9. Sen. Kaufman, Ed (D-DE)*
10. Sen. Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN)
11. Sen. McCaskill, Claire (D-MO)
12. Sen. Menendez, Robert (D-NJ)
13. Sen. Merkley, Jeff (D-OR)*
14. Sen. Risch, Jim (R-ID)*
15. Sen. Sanders, Bernard (I-VT)
16. Sen. Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH)*
17. Sen. Tester, Jon (D-MT)
18. Sen. Udall, Mark (D-CO)*
19. Sen. Udall, Tom (D-NM)*
20. Sen. Warner, Mark (D-VA)
21. Sen. Webb, James (D-VA)
22. Sen. Whitehouse, Sheldon (D-RI)
23. Sen. Wicker, Roger (R-MS)
24. ILLINOIS*
25. NEW YORK*
26. COLORADO*
27. Sen. Franken, Al (D-MN)???*

(* indicates new in January 2009)

No matter whether you believed Obama would bring change or not, we're going to have heaps of it rolling out over the next few months. The specter of these kinds of changes to two of the three branches of government (and the Supreme Court is very likely to change too as several retire) is unprecedented in my lifetime.

Of course, you add to all that the fact that we now have Democratic control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since the advent of the netroots as well as the incredible grassroots movement that Obama built during the campaign. I'd say that all bets are off for predicting how things will play out based on what has happened historically.

Of course, I would be remiss if I were to neglect mentioning that with all this change in personnel, we are also facing some of the greatest challenges we have ever seen as a nation. Those include the crisis in the economy, climate change, two wars, and eight years of everything from incompetence to war crimes to clean up.

I am NOT predicting some progressive sweep of our national politics. What I'm saying is that the deck has been shuffled - big time. That is just as likely to scare people into retreat as it is to invigorate them to move forward. All I know is that there might not ever have been a more momentous time to be engaged in the process.

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