Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Bush's Electile Dysfunction and the Thriving of American Democracy

Seems to me that in yesterday's (and in some cases, next week's) results are a short and a long term benefit.

Short term benefit: Lame duck is a poor description of what the rest of the Bush presidency will look like. He spent the first six years trying to show how macho, how politically virile he was by invadin' countries, talkin' tough, clearin' brush, and doing away with the foundations of American civil democracy. But now, he may not be completely impotent, but everyone knows that he is suffering from a serious case of electile dysfunction. Not that he really had a platform, but its specter has been exorcised. We may not see much moving forward in the next couple of years, but the gear has been shifted from reverse and the brick has been taken off the accelerator.

Long term benefit: In six years, George W. Bush has undermined the line that led so many very smart, very good people in 2000 to be extremely cynical and turned off towards politics. It turns out there is a difference between the parties. Voters in 2000 were cynical for a very good reason. Clinton's Dick Morris infected triangulated second term intentionally blurred the lines between the parties and the Gingerich led revolution destroyed civility and replaced it with naked partisanship that led to mass disgust and alienation. Politics was ugly and broken. People tuned out. Many people thought the government was an inertial being, anyway, that would run on its own regardless of who was at the helm and nothing could, much less would change. But Iraq and Katrina put the lie to that sentiment and it became obvious that politics does matter.

George W. Bush's lasting legacy may be that he accidentally saved American democracy. Because of the pictures of what happens when our government is run incompetently, because of the outrage from seeing good people vilified and muzzled for disagreeing on policy, because of everything we've seen in the last six years, people are more politically active than I have ever seen. My mother who was never politically interested is now fiery and conversant about issues. People who only argued politics before are now active and contributing both in terms of money and time. Midterm elections are supposed to have very small turn out numbers, but yesterday we saw long lines all over the country. Bush has politicized America after Clinton and Gingerich had depoliticized it. And for that, I thank him.