Friday, November 12, 2004

The War on Tyranny 

Strategists and pundits are suggesting that the Democratic Party loses elections because it doesn't follow a "narrative." I agree with this assessment although I can't help feeling that it's being approached from the wrong angle. The kind of narrative that the Democratic Party needs has to be more than just a compelling story. It also has to be authentic, and grounded in history.

Liberal America's performance in this election was impressive despite the awkward disconnection between its leaders and base. It's not enough to be united against something. A movement without direction is at best a circus. Without visionary leaders, it's doomed to fail.

The words of the Founders still resonate today because they follow an authentic narrative. They fought to liberate themselves from the tyranny that ruled their lives; they were underdogs and optimistic dreamers. They had legitimate grievances with the established order, clear goals to address those grievances, and the conviction to persevere. The interesting thing about the Founders' narrative is that it was only intended to be the introduction to a magnum opus on the demise of tyranny. They knew that the War on Tyranny would continue well into the future.

And continue it does. Although many chapters have been added to the Founders' narrative, the work is far from complete. Today, the threat to this great American work comes in a form that would have alarmed, but probably not surprised the Founders: homegrown tyranny. King George has returned to haunt the heirs of the narrative. He's in the process of writing what he hopes will be the final chapter of our "liberty and justice for all" saga.

Liberal America recognizes the gravity of the threat and follows the proper narrative, yet its leaders struggle to make sense of the situation. Therein lies the problem. It occurs to me that many Liberal leaders are simply unable to feel the depth of their narrative. Perhaps they should learn from their base. They should definitely pay more attention to people - like Barack Obama - who have managed to establish a deeper connection with Liberal values. He was the star of the Democratic National Convention because he delivered the great American narrative.

"As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality."
- George Washington

"Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value."
- Thomas Paine

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