I have just spent a very interesting and enjoyable couple of days at CGI, hat tip and thanks to Peter Daou as always for taking care not just of me, but of many other great bloggers. (Yes. we had a brief DH meeting which ended up accidentally excluding some folks because they were jamming the phones and nothing worked.)
To me, in the beginning, CGI seemed a little questionable to be honest. When it started, I saw a lot of old Clinton donors and former ambassadors and in general political hangers on who seemed more intent on either reliving the old days, or discussing Hilary’s future than anything. However to the great credit of President Clinton and the broader CGI team, it has turned into a very significant event and now it’s much more about the action away from the event, than being part of the action at the event. A brief encounter with the actress Olivia Wilde shows the change. A few years ago, the celebrities were there to be seen. Today, she was working in the lobby hair pulled back, focused on her project in Haiti. So now, CGI can truly take its place as potentially the most important event of its kind in the world and the totals are staggering, $6.2 billion in commitments that will positively impact the lives of 100 million people around the world.
CGI also shows why Democrats are different. Inherent in our core is the desire to make the world a better place. To help each other and help those less fortunate than us. My friend Paul Abrams calls it the concept of collective responsibility. We do care for each other; we do want to help, we see ourselves as part of a broader world.
Unfortunately the Republican Party of 2011 does not share this view. Can you imagine George W Bush convening a group to help projects around the world? To empower and engage and work on the issues of the day? Of course not. In fact President Carter created The Carter Institute and President Clinton created CGI, and our last three Republican Presidents have done very little since they left office and certainly nothing compared with the legacies of our last two Democratic Presidents.
However, or should I say, the big BUT in this is that the same collective sense of responsibility and sense of decency and respect was the undercurrent in every political discussion I had at CGI. As the Republican Party has tilted farther and farther right, as the right wing noise machine has cranked the negative and false discourse to a level where even simply fundamental facts are at issue, the Democrats have continued a path of communication that includes statements that are preposterous in the face of the opposition.
To state any of the following in 2011 in America brands you not good or decent, but hopefully naive and soon to be walked over
“The facts are clear on this issue.”
No, the facts aren’t clear. In fact the facts aren’t even the facts anymore. See Global Warming, 9/11 and Iraq, WMDs.
“No one will vote for [Bachmann, Perry]“
Hell yes they will. We are not a country called the Upper East Side or the Bay Area.
In fact, if you are expecting a fair fight, the votes to be counted, the facts to matter, the media to do their job, or the good guy to win, it’s not going to happen. And won’t happen again in our lifetime.
The Republican Party has a simple plan. It’s open and public and clear. They want to eliminate the social net, creating a broader and deeper source of poorly paid labor for business interests. The rich will get richer. The country’s natural assets are simply assets to be exchanged to private companies. The future is the concern of someone else. The less fortunate just are.
To achieve these goals, they will do anything. Lie. Cheat. Steal.
Decency and good intent won’t defeat the Medusa that the Republican and Conservative movement has become. Strength, courage, a shot of evil and fanatical commitment has a chance. You fight your opponent on their terms, not yours.
Otherwise as powerful and wonderful as CGI is, the beauty and the inspiration that is there will remain the province only of a select few and never be re-introduced to the nation.
James Boyce has been involved in the progressive community online since his role as a Senior Advisor for John Kerry in 2004. Since then, he has been both a leading blogger, a frequent contributor to MSNBC, advisor to Bill Richardson in 2008, and founder of Common Sense NMS (www.commonsensenms.com) a online strategy group with clients such as Product (RED), NRDC, The Rainforest Alliance, Stonyfield Farm and more. James can be reached at email@example.com
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