November 19, 2004

My silence

…is broken. Much like Dave, I’ve also retreated during the days following the election. Probably not one of my more admirable points, but I tend to retreat to think, consider, and weigh what has happened when I feel this much disappointment. I suppose there are all kinds of clichéd responses I can take to the outcome: he started this mess in Iraq, let him take responsibility for it; the country wants more of the same, so that’s what they’ll get… yadda yadda yadda. You’ve heard it before. The thing is… I think we all knew it was going to happen. Despite the “act like a winner and you’ll win” philosophizing, we knew that a positively stated platform is the more successful one. No matter how much the Democrats tried to dress up their arguments, the majority of them were “cons.” Republicans have a splendid way of turning sophisticated arguments into positive pithy statements, and there’s nothing the Baby Boomers (Let’s be honest… You’ve seen the demographic distribution of voters… it’s the Boomers who made the difference) like more than pithy arguments. There you have it: four more years. The real question to me is what will the Democrats do to improve? My outlook is not optimistic. If the learning curve is as shallow between now and ’08 as it was between ’00 and ’04, then we can start sounding the party’s death knell. Dems were almost giddy at the campaign’s “outstanding growth” in using technology. But simply using technology doesn’t fix the core problem (look how easy it was for the ultra conservatives to jump on the blog bandwagon). What have Republicans done that works? They’ve created a “new” message and convinced the public that they mean it. Democrats won’t succeed again until they can do the same.

So, why have I come out of my warm, cozy bed of denial to start putting type on a screen? Because I’ve never felt more compelled that what I do matters. I still believe that the primary emphasis of the humanities is to teach students to engage with sophisticated and complex ideas, to learn how to participate in civil and thoughtful discourse about controversial ideas, and to formulate thoughtful and informed opinions. I think that this reminds me that I’m not always going to like the result. Sometimes, my students may come to very different conclusions than I would like. But I will feel more comfortable if I can believe that at least the 25 students I teach had the best “tools” with which to make their decision, so that when they finally do decide to vote… I’ll at least feel like it’s an informed decision—not one driven by logical fallacies.

Posted by c_jane at November 19, 2004 10:06 AM | TrackBack