Opinion » Bill Cope

My Hopeful Speech

The encouraging half (I hope)

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Last week, you read part one of a speech I delivered last month, intending to raise the spirits of depressed Democrats. I broke it into halves at a point just after I presented a litany of reasons not to be very hopeful, considering what a horror the GOP has become. Following is the second half, and it includes no reference to the thumping Republicans took on Nov. 8, because that hadn't happened yet.

By now, you may be wondering if I'll ever get to the hopeful part of my hopeful speech. OK, let me start with the obvious: We still have a president who is thoughtful, eloquent, genuine and patient--qualities that separate him definitively from anything the Republicans offer. Further, we control the Senate with little chance of losing that majority, and let us remember, not all of the special elections this year have been disappointments. But these things aren't as reassuring as they once were, not when we are faced with a corporate-driven insurgency that, as is now clear, would see America destroyed if that's what it takes to destroy President Barack Obama. As to the "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations sweeping the country, we must welcome them. They may well be the antidote to the Tea Party poison. Yet it seems to me too early to tell where that phenomenon is headed or if the energy will last until next year's elections.

However, as I considered the frightening spectacle that is now the GOP, a picture began to emerge that had previously been hidden behind the staging. Whether it was in Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Idaho, the U.S. Congress--wherever--none of these extremist fanatics campaigned in 2010 on the positions and policies they would subsequently promote once they were in office.

You cannot find a clip of Paul Ryan saying that once the Republicans had the majority in the House, he would propose that Medicare be put to a slow death and that the elderly would thereafter be delivered into the jaws of private insurers. You will find no snippet of Wisconsin's Scott Walker boasting that once he'd moved into the governor's mansion, he would gut his state's budget by handing out tax cuts to the wealthiest, then make up for the shortfall by busting public employee unions.

You cannot find 2010 campaign ads of legislative candidates vowing that the first thing they would do when they got to the state capitol is strip Planned Parenthood of funding, or make it more inconvenient for minorities and young people to cast a ballot, or sit back and wait for a Koch brothers' agent to hand them some new laws to enact.

You will find no footage of Tea Party ditto-heads campaigning for Congress on the promise that once they get to Washington, D.C., they would see the federal government shut down rather than raise a tax on billionaires by 3 percent, or that they would insist on deregulating Wall Street even further, or that they would hold the Federal Aviation Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency hostage until they carved more flesh and sucked more blood from programs designed to feed hungry kids and homebound seniors, or that they would dedicate themselves to drowning the Environmental Protection Agency in Grover Norquist's bathtub.

And certainly, you will find no campaign promises from Tom Luna announcing that if re-elected, he would eliminate 700 teachers and hand Idaho's kids over to out-of-state computer program hawkers.

No, you will find very little, if any, evidence from the 2010 campaign season that these men and women of the fringe--these barbarians who dare call themselves "patriots"--were proud of what they would become and how they would behave once they were safely inside the government fold. And there, fellow Democrats, is my hopeful message. The right knew then, they still know, that the American people will not follow them willingly.

They know that they dare not tell the citizens where they want to take us, what their vision of America's future is. They know that the only chance they have of twisting this country to their liking is to sneak their vision through. Or to ram it through, to use procedural tricks and shady gimmicks to foist their backward ideology off on America even when the streets outside are filled with Americans saying, "Hey, don't do that!"

Our hope is in exposing them. Two years ago, even a year ago, few people had heard of the brothers Koch, the Club for Growth, the American Legislative Exchange Council, the insane pledge that Republicans took like drunken lemmings to never raise a tax, even if the nation was at risk. Few people had heard of the agenda to privatize education, to privatize Social Security and Medicare and everything else that isn't currently pumping taxpayer dollars into corporate accounts.

Today, we know who is pulling their strings and filling their campaign coffers, and our job--our hope--is to spread the news. In every poll that records the shifting perceptions of our fellow citizens, we see that as Americans become more aware of what the right is doing, the more they reject that future. Speak of it as often as you can. Write of it as often as you can. Don't let a Tea Party lie pass without calling it a lie. Don't let a Koch brothers' trick slip through in the dark without shining light on it. Above all, do not tolerate their schemes in silence.

The truth can move agonizingly slow at times, but no matter where it's headed or how long it takes to get there, it is still the truth. And it is still, and will always be, the best weapon we have to defend our country from those who would steal it from us with lies.