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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Good Fight

I want to share a fun fact; the vast, vast majority of people think George W. Bush sucks. And there's this guy who's running for president who's close to Bush. This is a problem for that guy:

Yeah, it's not the newest poll, but that's kind of the point. Rev. Wright is a dead issue -- George W. Bush is not. And, while people may not like Jeremiah Wright, there aren't many who would argue that he's screwing up the country. Wright is not a national disaster, Bush is. In fact, Bush is such a disaster that the GOP was stuck with a little bit of a problem -- how to deal with him in their national convention?

They had to have him speak. It would be huge -- and counterproductive -- news if he weren't to address the convention. So they decided to hide him. Bush will address the RNC on the day most people won't be watching. Bush is scheduled for Labor Day evening -- a massive media black hole. The only way to get fewer viewers would be to have him speak on Christmas.

Bonus, they can hide Cheney in the same hole. So, of course, they did. There was some question as to whether Darth Cheney would address the convention at all, but -- like Bush -- it turned out that the bigger story would be to not feature him. The only place to hide Bush and Cheney was out in the open.

All of this is good news for Democrats for more than one reason. Allowing the Republican National Convention to come immediately after the Democratic National Convention was a mistake. In any debate, the final position is stronger, being the rebuttal. There's a reason that our legal system allows the defendant to make the second argument -- it's much easier to argue against than to argue for. In the conventions battle, Democrats lost the high ground.

On the other hand, the rebuttal forces negativity -- which will highlight Obama's positive message. People already think of the GOP as the party of darkness. There's a broad gray line between good and evil, with a lot of elbow room in between. But with kidnapping and spying and killing and torture, the Bush administration has dragged the Republican party all the way across that line. Allow me a poetic turn of phrase here, but where a neocon goes, death and sorrow follows. These are not good people. In fact, they're almost cartoonishly evil.

That's their eventual failing. Evil seems powerful because it's not limited by morals or ethics or law. What we call evil is basically a shortcut, crossing lines and breaking barriers that are pretty much conceptual. Goodness, at its most basic, means always making the same choice, always following the same road. Evil takes whatever path serves it best. Evil doesn't do evil for evil's sake, it does evil for expediency's sake.

Evil is, at its most basic, lazy. And that's why it doesn't endure. We are a relentless species that knows the future exists. What we've built took generations, people who helped build our world lived and died with no hope of ever seeing this. People fought for this and died for this and it's still a work in progress. Perfection isn't possible, but that's our bar.

So don't fool yourself. The Democrats aren't good either. It's said that all it takes for evil to flourish is for good people to do nothing and today's Democratic party is a great example of that. By refusing to punish evil, they allow it. By refusing to fight evil, they become de facto allies.

But this is a long fight that is never done. As I said, goodness is a matter of always making the same choice. So you can start being good at any time. And you can stop being good at any time. This is the time when we can choose good. Every day is the time when we can choose good.

If history shows us anything, it's that humanity is constantly improving. That the right choice is made more often than the wrong one. We become a little wiser with each generation and shed our evils -- we're better than we were when we had slaves, better than we were when we burned witches, better than we were when we believed the world was flat. We've made the right choice more often than not -- perhaps barely more often -- and that's been enough to improve our world immensely.

The GOP can try to hide their evil on Labor Day, to display Bush and Cheney when the fewest cameras will be rolling, but they can't hide them altogether. The evil at the heart of their party will be there until they make the right choice and drive it out.

All of this talk about good and evil is done without hyperbole, by the way. I think that when people embrace torture, when they celebrate needless war, when they abandon law, they have become literally evil. We may not live in a nation with a good guy party, but we inarguably live in one with a bad guy party.

The party beginning their convention tonight aren't the bad guy party. They aren't the good guy party either. But they're the ones in the best position to take down evil. Once they do that, we can make the right choice once again and fight them too.

And we'll win -- eventually. History shows that. If evil is lazy, good is relentless.


1 comment:

Mark said...

As a historian, I must disagree with the following assertion: "If history shows us anything, it's that humanity is constantly improving." My reasoning is embedded in a brief piece called "Narrating European History: Progress or Regress? Celebration or Condemnation?"

That said, I do believe that improvement is possible, and I also think Obama will use not only the constitutional powers of the presidency, but also the bully pulpit, to help make this country better.