rebuilding mode

In football, the word, ‘rebuilding,’ is a vile, despicable word. It means that the team has seen its glory days come and go. It means the salary-cap, time, and poor decisions have taken its toll on the team. It means that the team may not be good for a long while. But, of course, that term may also be applied to the Democratic Party…”

 

by matt waterman

 

By the time you read this, the game will be ancient history. It was this past Monday night, a contest between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. The important footnote is that, for the first time in its history, Monday Night Football broadcast two winless teams in the same game. But the relevancy, on a personal level, does not end there. You see, I have an insight into what each of these teams were feeling: I’m a Liberal Democrat.

In football, the word, “Rebuilding,” is a vile, despicable word. It means that the team has seen its glory days come and go. It means the salary-cap, time, and poor decisions have taken its toll on the team. It means that the team may not be good for a long while. But, of course, that term may also be applied to the Democratic Party.

In the post-September 11th world, decisive action is the key element. Negotiation and rhetoric are out the window, defense budgets are zooming, and support for a Republican president is at incredible heights. But here’s the catch: Most of the Democrats I have spoken with are fine with this. Sure, there are a few protesters down in Union Square and on some of the nation’s college campuses. But can any sensible Democrat honestly say that Dubya is doing a bad job?

It wasn’t always like this. There was a time when Dubya was the enemy. Gore may have been an unlikely savior and Nader a mythical promise but at least the Liberal community knew one thing: Dubya was the enemy. And, predictably, in his first months in office he did nothing to disappoint. Suddenly, Alaska was going to become a slagheap, trillions of dollars were going to be pumped into a defense shield that wouldn’t work, and China was in a tizzy with us. But then, the tragic events of September 11th unfolded and Dubya was there. I’ll admit when I’m wrong. Dubya surprised me. With his ability to galvanize the nation and the world and with his handling of the Coalition, he seemed to do everything right.

What’s a Liberal Democrat to do? Friends have asked if Gore could’ve done as good of a job. My only reply is, “I don’t know.” Even many Republicans would be lying if they said they thought Dubya would’ve grabbed the reins like he has. McCain, the closet hero of a lot of us Liberals, might not have done as well—nuclear strikes, after all, might not have been the best option.

To bring this back to the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, both of these teams were once great franchises. They won four of the ten Super Bowls in the nineties. Back then, the economy was booming, the nation was at peace, and the worst thing a president could do was have sex with an intern. Now, many of you sports buffs will point out that some of the Super Bowls won by these teams were in the beginning nineties when Bush the First ruled the land. But the parallel is there: When these teams were great so was the Democratic Party.

Now, both teams are winless and may have stayed that way had they not had to play each other. And where is the Democratic Party? Already there has been infighting regarding how much we, “deserved,” the attack and, seemingly, most Democrats are shunning that view, perhaps rightly so. Partisan politics is at a low, which, again, seems to be a good thing in light of what the nation faces. And, though given the situation of the world and the fact one can never see what is around the corner, it is not much of a stretch to see the World Trade Organization coming out of all of this smelling like roses.

For now, the vacuum that was the Democratic Party before the rush to Bi-partisanship can stay that way. After all, you don’t argue about whose turn it is to do the dishes when the house is burning down. But what does the future hold?

With the events that have unfolded, it may be time to assess what the Democratic role will be in this new world and where the party is heading. Similarly, both the Cowboys and the Redskins must assess how and when they plan to get better.

Let the rebuilding begin.

 

Originally published:
Issue Fifteen
November 2001

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