We Get Back Up

It’s tempting, very tempting, to talk aboutwhat’s going on in the Senate in terms of tactics or the upcoming elections or as a symbol of what Democrats and Republicans really are all about, and it’s not exactly hard. Let’s face it, it’s been until today a pretty stark demonstration of what the past six years have wrought: the Republicans wage war on the Constitution and win, Democrats show up in time to shoot the wounded, and everybody goes home feeling sticky and vaguely pissed off.

But this is one of those moments, is the thing. It’s one of those times when it’s got to be about everything else. I live and breathe tactics and strategy, you know that, and most of this stuff that we talk about here is exactly all that.

This isn’t.

This is about what kind of country we are.

And we are better than this.

We are better than murderers. We are better than torturers. We are better than those who would tell us the only way to beat the terrorists is to inflict far greater terror. We are better than those who would tell us the only way for us to live now is to live in fear. We are better than those who say, “Build yourself a tower, build yourself a wall, dig yourself a moat.” We are better than this. I believe that with every shred of my soul or I wouldn’t be up tonight, trying to think of a way to put this to make people understand something I only half understand myself.

We, as a country, are better than this. And if the weakness and fear of a cowed Republican Congress allows them to lose faith in the conviction of America to preserve its ideals while overcoming any foe, that is the fault of the cowed Republican Congress, because I saw Democrats all over the place standing up this week. Russ Feingold, Tim Ryan, Louise Slaughter, Dick Durbin who got beat on so bad over this once before, even Barack got off his snobby ass and joined the fight. Kerry. Dean. They all got up and said no, this is wrong.

Tomorrow my senators, at least, are getting e-mails and phone calls asking them to filibuster, because we don’t need to torture, in America. It doesn’t work, it doesn’t help, it makes us evil and it makes us small. It reduces a great nation to the level of some tin-hat dictatorship and we, cats and kittens, are better than this.

And that conviction, that this is not the policy of a great nation but the demented expression of the fear of a nation’s corrupt leadership, that this is not the course America will chart for years to come, that this is not what my fellow Americans want, will not waver should the unprincipled, undisciplined, unscrupulous Republican Congress pass this moral abortion of a bill tomorrow.

I’m not going to join the crowd of about seven people saying they’ll just quit politics, quit the Democrats, quit the world, whatever, man, if this goes down the way I think it’s going to go down. And I don’t think any of you will either.

We are better than this.

And I know that because I know all of you. I know my family, my friends. I know my neighbors and the writers for my local papers and I know my senators and congressmen. I know people who get up every day and fight like hell against incredible odds to do what is right, be that making somebody a lunch to take to school or writing legislation. I know Americans, and we are better than this.

We are better than this. Look at the past three years. Look what we’ve done, bloggers and activists and writers and singers and rank and file Democrats who are making a 50-state strategy practical and real, so that Republican districts are fighting grounds where they should be quiet pastures of acquiescence and fear. We’ve made it a fight, don’t you know what that means? It’s impossible to explain to somebody who hasn’t seen it, I think, the incredible sight that turning back the inevitable is.

It’s a little like this: When the universe says fuck you, you feel the weight of it. A death sentence, a terminal diagnosis, everybody with good intentions telling you to shut up, sit down, go home. Good people, maybe even people you thought were friends of yours, telling you to give up, that it’s over. if you’ve faced down somehting like that, you know what I’m talking about. That’s not an uphill battle. That’s an uphill battle on ice in the rain with ten tons of cats in sacks on your back.

A lot of people sat down after 9/11, said that’s it, this country’s Republican and scared until the day we die. A lot of people sat down after the 2002 elections, said there’s no way to beat them, we’d better just let them walk all over us and pretend their spikes feel like flower petals. A lot of people sat down after 2004 and said seriously, guys, this time it’s really, really, really over. A lot of people sat down a lot of times since then.

We’re still standing up.

Do you see what I’m saying? I’m not talking about a moral victory. A moral victory and a sack gets you a sack. I’m talking a little bit about whatKos is saying here, though really I’m talking about what it is inside of you that you repeat over and over and over that lets you get up every time they knock you down. You have to have some kind of something to get up after beatings like we’ve been taking, and yet we get up. WE GET UP.

We are better than this. We are better than the torturers and murderers in charge of our country. We are better than the condescending, xenophobic, homophobic, confederacy-fetishizing, lying sons of bitches who sleazed into office by dint of having R’s after their names at a time when that was the hip new craze, and we are better than the shallow talking heads who enable them, and we are better than the fearful, hateful, desperate throng that believes them. Which excludes about two-thirds of the country right now, in case you’re tempted to blame “sheeple” or “Americans” or everybody for the fault of a batch of creeps with microphones. We are, as a country, better than this. Even the polls say so.

Dick Durbin, who not too long ago got the full-on GOP assraping for daring to remark that our prisons’ torture summer camp kind of sucks, stood back up. John Kerry, who got called a liar and worse, whose wife got run through the wringer and whose past came rushing back in technicolor because Nixon’s bagman had nothing else to do that week and missed the warmth of the TV lights, John Kerry got back up. Louise Slaughter, who gets called things by the Freepers that even I won’t type, got back up.

A dear friend of mine once said to me, during a very bad time, “They kept pounding on you and you kept getting back up.” He was trying to make a boxing analogy, and his tone was somewhere between encouraging and “Jesus, you’re a fucking idiot,” but here’s my point. We are better than this, and here’s why:

Tomorrow, starting with the first phone call to the first senator on the list of every single one of them, WE GET BACK UP.

We call them all, even the Republicans. Even the John Cornyns and George Allens and Rick Santorums of the world. Even those creeps who’ll be out of office real soon. We call them and we tell them, yes, in fact, we are constituents. We’re AMERICANS.

And we’re better than this.

Not. One. Inch.


15 thoughts on “We Get Back Up

  1. Thank you, Athenae. Just wrote to “my” Senators, Cornyn and Hutchison. For good measure, threw in a spine-stiffener to Obama.
    We need to be like Bobo dolls–knock us down, we pop right back up. You are one of the best at rallying us when our hopes are flagging. Thank you!

  2. “Tomorrow my senators, at least, are getting e-mails and phone calls asking them to filibuster…”
    I watched for a little while today, and Carl Levin (i think) was talking with whoever was acting as President at the time about how much debate time he had remaining on his amendment, and how much “on the bill”. I may be dead wrong, but I think if the time limits are already set on the bill, the possiblity of filibuster is gone, that procedurally it has already been waved.
    If filibuster was even a possibility, the Republican would have moved for cloture today (assuming an adjournment of end-of-day Friday).
    By all means, call’em and let’em have it. But I think filibuster is gone.

  3. I wrote this for Salon. I might actually post it on some Christian boards. Any suggestions?
    This is going out to all the right wing Christians who are George W. Bush supporters.
    Okay. You won. You got your guy into power. You have the congress, you have the Supreme Court. You have your own network of TV and radio stations. Your servants work to pass legislation against gays getting married. You are on the path to protecting all innocent life from the second the sperm unites with the egg as you have determined that is when life begins. You got the president to get out of bed to fly to Washington for Terri Schiavo even when he wouldn’t do the same for the flood victims in New Orleans. I have no doubt you will keep going until the world is remade in your image or we reach the End Times. Only then will you rest. So…given all the power you have, I have a request:
    “Could you please help us stop your government from passing laws that make it OKAY to torture other humans? Could you please come out AGAINST torture? Against the bill that is winding its way through congress now?
    Could you please get as worked up over this as you did about Janet Jackson’s breast? Can you please make some of the same 100’s of thousands of phone calls and letters to your servants as you did when you were hoping that Teri Schiavo was tracking a balloon with her eyes after years in a coma? Okay, those are nasty shots, please forgive me. In fact, I’m willing to grovel. It’s more important for me to look out for the least of my brothers who might be in an eternal state of imprisonment with no hope of a trial than to get in my snarky comments.
    It’s hard for me not to be angry at you because it seems to me your priorities are wrong. I often don’t agree with you since you target my friends and their choices. But I’m going to get down on my knees and beg you now. Please, please, PLEASE pick up this cross of suffering that our elected officials want to lay on the people they determine are enemies.
    I know that you are scared of terrorists. That’s normal given the times we live in where fear is sown in every newscast. I know that you have been told that if someone is a detainee they are guilty and would slit your throat if they could. But here’s the thing. Sometimes we get it wrong. People make mistakes. You know all those people in Gitmo? Hundreds were let go. Why? THEY WERE NOT THE TERRORISTS WE WERE LOOKING FOR. Some were mistakes. If there isn’t a chance to recover from mistakes with something like habeas corpus we are all diminished as children of God. We can give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.
    And wouldn’t you want that for yourself, for your brother? And who is your brother? Who did Jesus say was your brother?
    I think that if you look at the authentic passages in the New Testament, some of those stories or parables that Jesus said will back up my request.
    Dear Christians. Please help us! And I’m not going to ask the question, “What would Jesus Do?” you know the answer. Whatsoever you do to least of my brothers that you do unto me.

  4. I don’t know how you do it, but you do. Every single American needs to read this. Thank you a million times over for saying what needs to be said when times are such that we don’t know how we’re going to get up every morning. I’ve been reading FD for probably about a year, and not once, A. – not once – have you failed to inspire me. Thank you. And thank all of you, too, for your contributions and comments. But this, right here, is all about the Mighty Athenae. Amazing.
    I like the appeal to the Christians, above. Filtering for snarkiness (cuz I’m not sure they’ll get or appreciate that), it’s a damn good idea. Jesus wasn’t a fan of torture. He and I have had our differences, but of this, I am sure. Also, does anyone know about the fillibuster – whether it’s a possibility? This simply cannot happen.

  5. “And we are better than this.”
    Yesterday we were. Today, the House approves torture and they fully expect the Senate to approve as well. We are no longer better than anything. A poke in the eye with a sharp stick has us beat. Oh wait, that’s one of our interrogation techniques!

  6. This quote seems to fit the day:
    “The contest is not between Us and Them, but between Good and Evil,
    and if those who would fight Evil adopt the ways of Evil, Evil wins.”
    – Author Unknown

  7. Hello all,
    Politics is little more than greed, arrogance, falsehood, hero-worship, and injustice taken to extremes and organized into teams (nations, parties, interest groups, etc). It is the struggle for your group, hero, and viewpoint so you can profit at the expense of others. This forces others to do the same in self-defense, causing an endless loop, downward spiral, and no-gain effect. When money, religion, and politics are intermingled, they form a true inescapable trap or bottomless pit. It is the opposite of compassion, cooperation, justice, and wisdom and causes you to expend dramatically more effort, time, and resources than necessary to achieve lesser results than are possible when you simply cooperate and have compassion, empathy, and charity for each other. Harmony and cooperation are on the perfect path, while politics, religion and money are ignorance, strong lies, strong delusion, and utter folly.
    The primary, though hidden purpose of politics is to effectively divide and conquer populations who support and participate in these great delusions. Politics serves to dramatically slow and confound progress towards common and common-sense goals that most people want to achieve. This is one of the reasons why major problems persist for centuries. When people finally cooperate to solve problems for the good of all, problems will finally be solved and stay solved. On the other hand, participating in and supporting politics causes problems to persist and even to reappear later, though they were apparently solved previously. Because of the ability of those who also control money and religion to reverse past progress and prevent true cooperation, politics is a great deception and a trap and the opposite of truth, wisdom, and justice.
    Read More…
    …and here…
    Seven Star Hand

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