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Imagine if you were dealing with a bully. Every day, for years, this bully would walk up to you and punch you in the stomach and kick you in the knees. The thug would pull your pants down in front of everyone, so that people had no choice but to either point and laugh or shake their heads in shame. This bully would take all of your money, so you'd never get to eat a decent lunch. Your tormentor would always find a way to make you look really stupid in front of the teacher. And that girl you like.
Now imagine one day, after all these years of abuse and humiliation, the bully decides not to punch you and kick you. Instead, the hooligan just calls you a few names, and insults your mother. It's not fun, but it's not nearly as bad as the abuse you usually take.
If that happened, would you consider yourself a winner?
It might seem like a win, but that's only because you've been beaten down for so long that anything that isn't that same beating feels better. A slice of bread tastes like a five-course meal to a starving man. Just because it feels better than before doesn't mean that it's a positive thing. You're still being discredited and insulted. You're not winning.
But now imagine that you really think you are winning. In fact, you are so convinced of it that you go around bragging to people about how much better things are, and how this less-of-a-beating is going to usher in a new era of cooperation. Good times are just around the corner, you say to anyone that'll listen.
Of course, anyone who is paying attention knows that you're just kidding yourself. They see you bragging about only being insulted, and they want to laugh if only they weren't feeling so sorry for you. Who wouldn't be able to take pity on the poor soul that is so sad, so utterly defeated, that they would actually claim victory in being slightly less humiliated?
And everyone is right, of course. Good times aren't just around the corner. Instead, the bully is waiting for a new opportunity to embarrass you even further. By gaining your trust, this crafty brute is luring you in so that you reveal even more of your weaknesses, so that they can be exploited. Great, thunderous laughs will be had at your expense, and you'll never see it coming.
Now imagine if every time that happened, you kept making excuses for the bully. "It's not so bad," you'd try to convince people, and yourself. At some point, people will stop feeling sorry for you. People like rooting for the scrappy underdog, not the pathetic weakling. Cheering on the little guy who fights hard against that which is bigger and more powerful makes people feel good about themselves. Watching a loser keep on losing without putting up much of a fight makes people disgusted.
This is why it is such an utterly wretched time to be a Democrat. Democrats keep on losing and losing, and all the leadership can do is try to put a smiley face on any time they don't get completely walloped by the Republicans, even when they have to concede far too much to achieve this "win."
The latest "compromise" over the filibuster issue is just another recent example. In this "deal" several of the most conservative of Bush's judicial nominees, people who are so far out of the mainstream that even other conservatives say damn, are going to get confirmed to lifetime judicial positions. In return, the Democrats get to keep the ability to use the filibuster, as long as they only do so if there are extreme circumstances.
This sounds a lot like the kind of deal where in exchange for me not punching you in the kidneys, you give me your lunch money and your bike. However, under this deal, I still reserve the right to smack you upside the head on a later date, at my discretion. What exactly did you "win" there?
If their fortunes are ever going to change, Democrats need to turn themselves from the party of the pathetically defeated to the party of the hard-fighting underdogs. They need to portray themselves as the kind of person who tries hard, plays by the rules, and pushes back even when the bigger kids are going after them, and even if it means the occasional ass-whuppin'.
Because Americans will never rally behind, and thus never vote for, someone who happily takes a beating and stands by while everything they love and believe in is taken from them. How can that kind of person represent them? How can you be on their side? Instead, people want to vote for those who stand up for themselves, who don't make worthless "deals" with the people they're fighting against, for those who would happily put their own personal safety at risk for that which they hold most dear.
Until Democrats learn how to stand up and fight the bullies, they'll be doomed to be fat-lipped and pantsless, crying in the corner of the political playground with no one giving a damn about it.
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.
See other articles by Dan Filowitz.
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