Thursday, August 16, 2007

Odd post-Rove reaction

Karl Rove's retirement announcement drew reactions that ran the gamut from fawning admiration from some on the right to the usual profanity laced hate speech that his name usually invokes from some on the left. But something about this one from Barack Obama really caught my eye:

Karl Rove was an architect of a political strategy that has left the country more divided, the special interests more powerful, and the American people more shut out from their government than any time in memory. But to build a new kind of politics, it will take more than the departure of a man or even an Administration that constructed the old -it will take a movement of everyday Americans committed to changing Washington and reclaiming their government.

What strikes me is that the theme of Americans removed from the governing process comes on the heels of an incident that demonstrates exactly the opposite. We are not very far removed from a grass roots political movement unmatched by anything I can remember in my adult life, unless I'm missing something obvious.

I'm speaking, of course, of the bipartisan attempt to ram a "comprehensive immigration solution" bill, heavy on promises but light on guarantees that needed actions would actually occur, down the throats of the American public. The politicians assumed that we would just buy their bumper sticker style pronouncements on the bill, too dumb and/or uninformed to know what the it was really about and too lazy to research it for themselves.

Problem was, Americans had a long memory on this issue, having fallen for the same exact scam in 1986. And they were not going to fall for it again. So many calls poured into congressional phone banks that the system overloaded. The ones that did make it through, along with an avalanche of e-mails, made a lot of those who would have to face the voters in 2008 reconsider their support for this whole thing, and it ended up going from certain passage to inglorious defeat.

It was the rarest thing in politics - a national grass roots movement that mobilized so quickly and so forcefully that it scared the politicians into following the overwhelming will of the people even though they badly wanted not to. And it should put to rest any talk of Americans being unengaged, apathetic or powerless in the political process. When we're riled up, we can still get some things done.

The irony is that Rove and Obama were united on the wrong side of this issue, hands covering their tin ears.

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