But what if you live in a devoutly red state, such as Alabama, where it's a foregone conclusion that Obama is not going to prevail? What's a progressive to do?
Mrs. Schnauzer and I pondered these questions before casting our ballots this morning, and we came up with our own "Southern Strategy." Perhaps "Red State Mindset" (RSM) would be a better term because red states, unfortunately, are not limited to the South.
So what were the principles of our RSM?
* Keep Drilling Toward "46," Baby--That's as in 46 percent of the vote. And that's a magic number for Obama supporters to shoot for, even in states where he is not going to win. This little nugget of wisdom comes to us from Mike Hubbard, chair of the Alabama Republican Party, of all people. Earlier this week, Hubbard said, "Obama won't win Alabama, but if he pulls 44, 45, 46 percent of the vote, then that could make it hard on some of our candidates down ballot." For once, Mike Hubbard actually said something intelligent and honest. And it can serve as an incentive for progressives in red states.
* Remember ExxonMobil! A Battle Cry for Alabama--After the presidential race, the highest profile battle in Alabama is for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court. That one pits Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur against Republican Greg Shaw, and it will be watched by a lot of folks beyond the boundaries of Alabama. Our state has become the poster child for nasty, expensive, ugly, insipid judicial races. And, by golly, the Paseur/Shaw race is the most expensive court race in the country in 2008. What does Alabama have to show for it's big-dollar court races? Some of the most corrupt courts in the country. We've recently noted the corruption that riddles the five-member, all-Republican Alabama Court of Civil Appeals. The nine-member Alabama Supreme Court (eight Republicans) isn't much better. In fact, it's decision last November to overturn a $3.6 billion fraud verdict against oil giant ExxonMobil is a rank example of judicial corruption at its ugliest. Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, a Democrat who cast the lone dissenting vote in the ExxonMobil case, is a beacon for justice in an otherwise bleak Alabama judicial picture. If Paseur is able to overcome Shaw, and all the dollars he has received from business interests, it will be another baby step toward undoing Karl Rove's electoral handiwork that turned Alabama courts into the cesspool we see today.
* Say "No" to Tribalism--Having heard Barack Obama referred to as a "socialist" and a "Marxist" in recent days, I put on my pseudo-social scientist hat the other day and asked myself, "What is going on?" The answer I came up with? I've decided America is suffering from a peculiar strain of tribalism. What is tribalism? One definition is "the possession of a strong cultural or ethnic identity that separates oneself as a member of one group from members of another group." I submit that tribalism is at work when folks of a certain political persuasion apply bogus labels to Obama--or anyone else, for that matter. Tribalism, I submit, is at work when a woman in Grosse Point, Michigan, denies Halloween candy to children who say their parents support Obama. More importantly, tribalism probably is at work when droves of white, middle-class Americans vote for John McCain--even after he ran a dreadful campaign, picked an unqualified vice presidential candidate, and espoused economic policies that clearly favor the wealthy. Over the past 30 to 40 years, these white, middle-class Americans have come to view themselves as members of the "conservative" tribe. And that identity, I fear, trumps their identity as Americans. How else do you explain the fact that many white Americans don't seem the least bit bothered that the Bush administration has butchered such American concepts as "due process," "equal protection," and "justice for all." Bush and his hatchetman, Karl Rove, have gotten away with it because they are seen as members of the "conservative" tribe. And many Americans place more value on tribal membership than they do adherence to fundamental Democratic principles. No wonder these folks consider Barack Obama and his supporters to be oddballs. We aren't in their tribe. And how ironic is that? The Bush administration led us into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries that have been dysfunctional for ages largely because of . . . tribalism. My inner social scientist says this might be the greatest danger our country faces, aside from global warming. Unchecked tribalism, I suspect, will rot our own democracy far worse than anything that happened on 9/11. Could an Obama presidency turn back the tide of tribalism? Let's pray that it does.
* Stand Up for Justice--I'm not a progressive who yearns for the ruination of the Republican Party. I believe a legitimate, functional Republican Party is important for the health of our democracy. But I do believe the GOP, in its current dysfunctional and corrupt state, needs to be dismantled. And that won't happen without a good electoral spanking. Hopefully, that will come today. (Even if it does, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman does not look for the GOP to move toward the mainstream anytime soon. He says an electoral spanking could make the party more, not less, extreme.) Nowhere has Republican rot been more present than in the Bush Justice Department. The extent of that rot remains unknown, but a Democratic Congress and an Obama attorney general, hold the promise of fumigating a DOJ that stinks to high heaven. Will that process begin today and kick into high gear on Inauguration Day 2009? I pray that it does.