Saturday 6 July 2013

The devil went down to Texas

The devil I'm referring to is Hillary Clinton. Stay with me, you'll see what I mean. 

We just celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Union victory at Gettysburg. The victory was historic, but at the time it was a tad bittersweet. At that point, Lincoln had been very patient as his generals blocked Robert E. Lee’s attempts to invade the north, but he kept telling the generals that it was time to get off the defensive, cross the line of scrimmage, and get down into enemy territory and crush the confederacy once and for all. Lincoln was stuck in an asymmetrical world, in which the enemy’s generals were willing to cross into the north, but his own generals were reluctant or somehow incapable of charging charge south and take Richmond. The game always seemed to be moving only in one direction.

When his latest general, Meade, won the Gettysburg fight, he sent a message to Lincoln, bragging that he had driven the southerners from “our soil”. Lincoln went ballistic: the whole point of the war was that every bit of the country, north and south, was “our soil”. He didn’t want Meade to merely keep Pennsylvania safe for democracy: he wanted Meade to get off his ass, get to the Potomac, and destroy Lee for good. Meade failed, he was fired, and Grant was brought to replace him. Grant understood that Lincoln required him to cross the line of scrimmage into enemy territory and destroy the enemy. Which he did.

By the same token, today our current political universe is not symmetrical. One army is crossing the line into the other’s territory, but the other team isn’t attacking back in the other direction.

Despite the fact that the American people have said in poll after poll that they prefer liberal policies to conservative policies, on everything from gay rights to abortion to taxation, the conservatives still have an unnatural advantage. Conservatives believe in crossing the line of scrimmage and attacking the other team in its own territory. The liberals don’t.

Conservatives have been hard at work trying to push their extremist policies in enemy territory, the blue states, pushing destructively low taxes in California, making democracy a whites-only proposition in Michigan, crushing unions in Wisconsin, cutting abortion rights in Ohio. But liberals don’t attack in the other direction: once those southern states, formerly bastions of the Democratic party, were snatched away by the GOP, the liberals gave up and wrote off most of the south. Even though there are millions of blacks and Hispanics and women and gays and people with brains down there, who loathe the conservative movement and its bigoted leaders. Even though they cringe when they see Confederate flags on all those license plates. Even though a number of those states could have been grabbed by the Democrats with a little effort.

Almost like the Amish, the extremists want to create little enclaves all across the country, where no liberals or liberal ideas can penetrate. In their neighborhoods, a black or brown person is seen immediately as an intruder (if you don’t believe me, ask Trayvon’s mother). The only news they see is Fox; the only news they hear is Rush. They have a nice reliable high school principal who is willing to expel, with dispatch, any silly little girl who admits to being a lesbian or an atheist or wants to play football or wear a feather in her hair at graduation. Recently one of these upstanding conservatives expressed horror that, one day in front of the TV watching a harmless cooking channel, he was a little too slow with the remote, and his daughter actually saw two lesbian cooks with one arm around the other!

But at the same time, conservatives want the freedom to go outside those enclaves and peddle their own ideas to folks on the outside, who have said repeatedly that they don’t want them. They not only want creationism and sex ed taken away from my daughters, they actually come down the street to my house to try to convert my girls into gay-bashing little Baptist shits like them (they failed disastrously). Their notion of a good thing, again, is that they can cross the line of scrimmage into liberal territory and go poaching, but any liberals who tiptoe across the line of scrimmage into their enclaves get lynched.

It’s exactly like the strategy Condoleeza Rice announced for Iraq: clear, hold, build. Clear an area of terrorists, hold that area, and then build outward from there until every area is “safe”. Conservatives look at everyone who disagrees with them the way the Bush gang looked at Iraqi terrorists: conservatives intend to clear their enclaves of any suspect people or ideas, and then use those enclaves as “forward operating bases” to go out into “enemy territory”, eliminate the enemy, and replace the bad liberal mojo with the good conservative kind.

They want it both ways, and we let them. Washington, same thing, asymmetrical. When the Republicans run the Senate, 51 votes can pass a bill. When the Democrats run the Senate, the Republicans attack with the filibuster, and it takes 60 votes for passage. And we let them get away with it.

Currently the quarter of the country that consists of insane extremists and their enablers is making policy for the other three quarters – because only that crazy one quarter is willing to go on offense, to cross the line of scrimmage and actually run a play. The rest of the country is led by people like…Harry Reid. A walking Viagra ad.

Because of liberal spinelessness, the conservatives have overreached egregiously, on voting rights, on gays, on abortion, on unions – and they have made clear their intent to attack contraception next, which is a truly amazing thing to observe in the 21st century. There will never be a better time for the liberals to go on offense. And the first play: throw the bomb. Attack in Texas. Thirty eight electoral votes that the liberals ignore every four years. But not anymore.

Texas has plenty of liberals in places like Austin and San Antonio. They elected a lesbian mayor in Houston. They have a small army of women, blacks, Latinos, gays, liberals, people with brains. But those people never turn out on election day: Texas is dead last, 51st, in voter turnout. The first party that gets off their butts and registers those voters owns the state. Let’s see to it that the liberals get there first.

The timing for an attack in Texas is perfect. Rick Perry’s thug-like stance on the abortion bill has backfired badly: currently, Texas men are out in the streets campaigning for the rights of Texas women, which is even more important because it reinforces the need for all these groups who are getting screwed over – blacks, women, gays – to unite and support each others’ causes. A majority of Texans say that they don’t like the Perry abortion bill, they say they even support background checks on guns, which is a real shocker for Texas, and they want the legislature to stop with this abortion nonsense and focus on the economy: a candidate like Wendy Davis who runs on exactly that platform can go as far as she wants.

Like Rip Van Winkle, Texas liberals are finally awakening from their forty-year slumber. They are working to register voters, and keeping political money at home instead of sending it to other states. They are ready to fight.

And they have a perfect target in the mentally-underpowered Rick Perry. As a 12-year governor, he has clearly stayed onstage too long. He knows he’s a vulnerable lightweight: he embarrassed himself in the 2012 presidential debates and refused to debate at all in the 2010 gubernatorial primary fight. His performance had his poll numbers in the tank even before the abortion fiasco. If he didn’t have future ambitions he never would have tangled with the abortion mess -- the abortion issue shows clearly that, as unpopular as he is at home and across the country, he is likely to run for the governor’s chair again, and then go national in 2016, either at the top of the ticket or possibly angling for the VP slot. The GOP has a long list of Neanderthal VP candidates like him, Agnew and Quayle, Cheney and Palin, so he would fit right in the list. The dream scenario is to let him run for the White House in 2016 and crush him, but an even better plan might be for Wendy Davis to spank him right in his home state, as he richly deserves.

Wendy Davis’ jihad against the abortion bill is handy in another sense: it completely exposed the GOP’s hypocrisy on filibusters. McConnell runs a hundred filibusters, and it’s democracy in action. Wendy does it once, and it’s mob rule.

And the person to lead the attack in Texas and across the south is Hillary. Hillary is the strongest candidate the liberals have, by a mile. Polls show she can beat Perry in Texas and beat Rubio and Jeb Bush in Florida too. A lot of people are pushing her to run. Ruth Bader Ginsberg laughed off attempts to persuade her to retire while Obama is still around to pick her replacement: Ginsberg is clearly hoping for another liberal president to follow Obama, and who better than Hillary?

A key reason Hillary should run, is that there are a lot of pissed-off women out there. First of all, some are pissed that Hillary isn’t president already. Meanwhile, in the last year, legislatures declared war on women’s rights to abortion and – amazingly -- contraception, Republicans insulted Tammy Duckworth and made stupefying comments about rape, persecuted high school girls for being gay or wanting to play football, and made tremendously condescending comments about female candidates: Hillary is from the Golden Girls, Wendy Davis is the Teen Mom, McConnell’s new opponent is The Cheerleader, and they even threw a hissy fit over Ashley Judd who never even got in the race. The more women we have running, the more the conservatives will act like penises. They look afraid, and they should be. But these guys have been launching nasty negative attacks for so long, that they don’t realize that an endless series of insults aimed at female candidates is eventually going to ruin them.

And of course if Hillary (a) announces a presidential run, and (b) does it right in Texas, the conservatives will so completely embarrass themselves attacking her, that the blowback will kill them all. 

In a nation where 1500 girls are already playing football at school, and other high school girls are going places no American girl has gone before, remember that in 2016 something like six million of those girls will be old enough to vote. Start recruiting them now! Tell them NOW that the Hillary Train is coming down the track, and that it’s time to get on board!

Along with a couple of million first-time Latino voters. Ditto! Rope em, hogtie em, brand em with a big D!

You know who else could be rounded up? Religious people! Even among practicing Christians, only 20-30 percent are the hard-core literalists who want to drag the nation back into the middle ages: the other 70-80 percent are moderates who are quite likely embarrassed by the far-right loons, and willing to be asked, at least, to support liberals and moderates. 

Because the politicians who are condemned by the far right as liberals, are really moderates, peddling policies that Republicans liked back in the old days. Time and again, today's conservatives have slammed Obama for proposing bills which originated with the old-school moderate Republicans. The religious people who are NOT insane would probably be okay with a moderate peddling that sort of platform. 

So, that’s the strategy: Hillary in Texas, and then Georgia, Missouri, the Carolinas, Florida. Even in Mississippi, if 6 percent of the vote had swung from Red to Blue, Obama, a black black black candidate who never even campaigned in the state, would have made Mississippi blue. Woah. As Lincoln said to about half a dozen of his generals, the south is begging to be invaded – go down there and crush the enemy! They richly deserve it! Cross the line of scrimmage!

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