Friday, February 15, 2013

"First you win the argument...then you win the vote"

Over the last few weeks I've noticed that something is changing in me in terms of what I want to pay attention to and what kind of political conversation I'm interested in having. I think it had something to do with Inauguration Day and the speech the President gave. But I haven't been able to pinpoint it exactly.

What I do know is that if feels like - at a deeper level - I've incorporated something Michelle Obama said about the President.
Here's the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we're all sweating it, when we're worried that the bill won't pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we're playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow — it doesn't happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.
Above all the madness about specifics like filibusters, sequesters, the insanity of the NRA, the nativists, etc, there is an overarching battle going on. I spoke to that a bit yesterday in writing about President Obama's long game on transformational politics. And today when I read Eugene Robinson's column, I understood it a bit better..."first you win the argument, then you win the vote."

Our side of that overarching argument was summed up this way by President Obama at the end of his SOTU address:
We may do different jobs and wear different uniforms, and hold different views than the person beside us. But as Americans, we all share the same proud title -- we are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations, that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter of our American story.
Whether we're talking about budgets, immigration reform, gun violence, equality, education, climate change, or any other issue - they come back to the question of whether we're all in this together or whether, as the Republicans suggest, you're on your own.

On specific votes these days, we'll win some and lose some. But its important to always keep our eye on the state of the overall argument. We're clearly winning that one.

As I've been saying for a while now, watching the beast in its death throes is not going to be pleasant. But make no mistake...that is exactly what is happening. As Andrew Sullivan put it:
But the anti-conservative revolutionary party that Gingrich began and Kristol egged on is now in its zombie stage – with no viable way back to majority status but lunging slowly and malevolently toward anything that is not far right.
What we can't do is assume that the level of malevolence is any indication of success. As a matter of fact, its the exact opposite - the more malevolent they get, the surer sign it is that they're losing the argument...and will soon lose the votes.

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