I Still Believed In My Dreams

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Can you remember who I was?  Can you remember what I once stood for?  

I gave America the New Deal, I gave America Social Security, I gave America the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and Medicare.  I had vision, I had courage, I had integrity.  I was the Democratic Party. I stood there boldly, sweating in the sun, felt like a million, felt like number one.  

The height of summer, I’d never felt that strong . . .

jfk Pictures, Images and Photos

Like a rock.

I was the party of working Americans, the party of the middle class, the party  of social justice.  Long ago, before Baucus and Conrad, before Landreau and Nelson, before NAFTA and Blue Dogs and Harold Fucking Ford, I was the Democratic Party.

My hands were steady,

My eyes were clear and bright.

My walk had purpose,

My steps were quick and light.

And I held firmly to what I felt was right . . .

Robert Kennedy Pictures, Images and Photos

Like a rock.

In the days of your parents, in the days of your grandparents, in the days of FDR and Truman and JFK, I was the Democratic Party.  I led America through the Great Depression, I led America and her Allies to victory over Fascism, I rebuilt the shattered nations of Europe with the Marshall Plan, I defended the Constitution, I upheld the rule of law, I hauled Richard Nixon’s thugs into the Watergate Hearings and shut down that freak show he called a Presidency.    

I was the Democratic Party.

I was strong as I could be.

Nothing ever got to me.

You wouldn’t know it now . . .

But I was something to see.

I was the Democratic Party.  I lifted up a fallen nation with FDR, I led the middle class to prosperity with Harry Truman, I built the Peace Corps with JFK. I stood proud, I stood tall, high above it all.

I still believed in my dreams.  

In the Justice Department of Robert Kennedy, in the union halls with Hubert Humphrey, in the snow of New Hampshire with Gene McCarthy, I stood proud, I stood tall, high above it all.

I still believed in my dreams.  

In the fields with Cesar Chavez defending the rights of migrant workers; with George McGovern demanding withdrawal from Vietnam; on the campaign trail across Minnesota with Paul Wellstone, I stood tall, high above it all.

I still believed in my dreams.

I was the Democratic Party.  I didn’t listen to lobbyists, I listened to the American people.  In city council meetings, in mayor’s offices, in state legislatures, in Congress, in the White House, at every level of American government.  It didn’t matter if rightwingers smeared me, it didn’t matter how tough the challenge was, it didn’t matter that Wall Street was against me, it didn’t matter that the Pentagon was against me, none of that mattered because I still believed in my dreams.  I didn’t triangulate, I didn’t betray my base, I didn’t curl into a fetal position just because a knuckle-dragging, lizard brain Republican called me names.  

But as you may have noticed, I no longer stand arrow straight.  I crawl.  To the right.  Then further to the right.  I’m not encumbered by the weight of all these hustlers and their schemes . . .

Democrat Overlords Pictures, Images and Photos

You are.

Seventy years now,

Where’d they go?

All those years,

I don’t know.

I sit and I wonder sometimes,

Where they’ve gone.

We used to have Anne Richards.  Now we have Blanche Lincoln.  We used to have Bella Abzug.  Now we have Dianne Feinstein.  We used to have FDR, now we have Hopey McChange.  We had an economy, but it’s gone.  We had a Constitution, but it’s gone.  We had the rule of law, but it’s gone.  This used to be America, I don’t know what to call it now.

Sometimes late at night,

When I’m bathed in the firelight,

The moon comes calling a ghostly white,

And I recall.

I recall . . .

FDR’s first 100 Days.  Democrats charging from the gate, carrying the weight . . .

fdr Pictures, Images and Photos

They were magnificent, they were something to see.

But those days are gone.  Democrats don’t charge from the gate anymore, they can’t even find the gate. It doesn’t look good for America right now, but this isn’t over yet.  No one else wants to carry the weight, so progressives will carry it.  We’ll start a new party if we have to, we’ll go to the barricades if we have to, if that’s what it takes for democracy to live again, because democracy is worth it, it always has been and always will be.  


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    • Edger on February 5, 2010 at 21:33

    I never thought of losing, but now that it’ s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.

    A rooster crows only when it sees the light. Put him in the dark and he’ll never crow. I have seen the light and I’m crowing.

    He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.

  1. who believe that America was once great and could be great again.

    They say we are not patriotic, those of us who believe in the principles of justice and equality over greed.

    They say we are not patriotic, those of us who believe that when one’s entire functional existence revolves around profiting from the blood of our American sisters and brothers it is a despicable and deplorable existence and ought to be a criminal one.

    They say we are not patriotic, those of us who believe in allegiance to Constitution over allegiance to flag.

    They say we are not patriotic, those of us who believe that America is or can be stronger than those who try to sell fear as the basis for all our governing choices.

    They say we are not patriotic, those of us who believe that it is not just Southern Christians who make up the tapestry of what America is about, but all the people.

    Oh well.  I will not buy a U.S. flag pin made in China and wear it on my breast lapel.  I guess I’m not patriotic enough for that.

  2. What does the Democratic Party of the present believe in?

    Does it believe in anything?  Oh, yes, it has a platform which is a statement of ideals, but this is hardly treated with any respect.  When self-proclaimed centrists of the Democratic Party do many of the things the Republicans want and few of the things that are in its own statement of principles, does it truly believe in anything?  Or does it believe in NOTHING except what the perks of office provide, such as a never ending circle of money and staying in office for staying in office’s sake.

    What does Harry Reid truly believe in?  Dianne Feinstein?  Blanche Lincoln?  I could not give you a nickel on a bet for what these people truly believe in in their heart of hearts, only empty rhetoric they think will sound good to some joker sitting on a bar stool in Peoria somewhere.

    They are nothings.  Empty suits.  And this is why they are weak.  Weak compared to Republicans, many of whom do believe in things, even as those things are largely evil.  And empty next to almost anyone else to the left of them.

    • Robyn on February 6, 2010 at 00:41

    My essay tonight was also about The American Dream.  But darker, I think.

  3. Civil Rights and the Separation of Church and State.

    Ike saw the blood of sacrifice, and knew the right thing to do. He appointed 5 Supreme Court Justices who are all rolling over in their graves watching the current court.

    Today’s Democrats?

    Like their counterparts, they also want to roll back the

    achievements and positive momentum of the 20th Century.

    Both parties disdain the people, and are very dangerous.

    Their games are manipulation, and they use the policy of war for their own ends.

    We don’t have parties today, we have power hungry factions whose sole goal is to control the levers of power. There are only the Ersatz Parties; phony, two bit chumps who can’t take their thumbs out of each other’s mouth.

  4. that’s the Bob Seger song I’ve been thinking of lately, at least when I feel hopeful.

    Rusty, you’ve written a beautiful yet tragic essay.  The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.  

    • dkmich on February 6, 2010 at 12:01

    It was a time of “real” hope, not this rope-a-dope bull shit put out by Hopey McChange.    

    • Xanthe on February 6, 2010 at 21:14

    good healthcare – prestige – talk, talk, talk (lots of people like to do that for a living) – pension – opportunity afterward to make “real” money –

    better than working at Walmart – or driving a bus – and guess what:  their jobs can’t be outsourced overseas (not yet anyway).

    Oh, there’s some stuff about running every once in a while to keep the job – but that’s still better than most of our jobs – and they get to talk, talk, talk while they hold on to the job.

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