Time to settle down and drive hard for the finish, progressives. Or as they say at Harvard, fight fiercely.
We are into the phase of the campaign when it's just straight-up, old-fashioned get out the vote. Ground war is what the pros call it, as opposed to the air war of television ads.
For several election cycles now, there's been a spat between air-war proponents and ground-war enthusiasts, with the allegedly "old-fashioned" ground warriors gradually pulling back into the lead. Karl Rove reportedly vowed after the 2000 election to improve the GOP's ground-war capabilities, not that he was ever dumb enough to ignore GOTV (get out the vote) in the first place.
The first thing we need to do is stay at Republican throats rather than one another's. Stop being so goosey. As soon as Kerry fell behind--by up to 13 points, according to some highly questionable polls--Democrats began turning on one another and bitching about what idiots the people running the campaign are and what a dog our candidate is.
Minute your candidate falls behind, the finger-pointing begins and the blame-game erupts.
Recall that Rove always tries to buffalo the media into buying the "We've got this thing sewed up" line.
There are couple of rules about being behind: The first is, Work Harder. Second, Don't Bitch About the Candidate. This is especially true for those inside the campaign, who tend to break these rules more than supporters on the outside.
We are not entitled to win on the awfulness of Bush's record. We have to work to win.
Keep your eye on the ball here: We need to beat George W. Bush. That's all you want to think about until it's over.
Trouble is, this is a freak election on many levels. For one thing, only fifteen states were ever in play, leaving those of us in the nonswinging thirty-five hearing little more than distant rumors of a campaign. Meanwhile, the hapless citizens in the swingers are drowning in all this. Nasty TV ads, e-mail, campaign mail, phone banks out the wazoo. Friendly progressives from neighboring states are descending on the beleaguered citizens of swing states like a horde of political Jehovah's Witnesses (no offense intended to the tireless purveyors of The Watchtower).
Poor bastards in the swing states, especially those who have voluntarily confessed to either party they are undecided, are suffering from campaign fatigue. By the time it's over, they'll probably have post-traumatic stress disorder.
Nevertheless, I'm an old ground-war advocate and believe nothing in politics works better than one person talking to another. But it seems to me the undecideds are sufficiently worked over: The people who really decide elections in this country are those who don't vote.
That's where we need to look and work. Most of us spend too much time talking to people who already agree with us.
Women are key in this election.
Notice too how many first and second-generation Americans do not vote because they come from countries where it either didn't count or was actually dangerous.
Many Mexican Americans not only went through the PRI, but also passed through South Texas, where for generations the patron system made your employment dependent on how you voted. They need those fears addressed directly before you can even talk about the issues.
Another potentially fertile field is Republicans for Kerry, mostly upper class R's. Quite a few of them are alarmed by Bush's fiscal irresponsibility and others by his Christian right emphasis. Call it the Episcopal vote.
This election has been a stinker, a stew of irrelevancies, distortions, and lies. Yes, we're entitled to bitch and moan about it. Yes, our political debate becomes ever sorrier. Yes, Jeremiah, it's all a mess and getting worse. Makes no difference. Despair is the only sin.