Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Demolition of a Party

In the spring of 2000 there was a controlled demolition of the Kingdome in Seattle so the city could make way for a new stadium worthy of our Mariners. I’m not big on destruction, yet even I was drawn to the freeway overpass with a view of the impending collapse. It was truly amazing to watch something so carefully constructed brought down to the ground in a matter of seconds. As the dust cloud rose into the sky I thought of the people who had worked so hard to build the Dome and wondered if they too watched it reduced to a pile of rubble.

Five years later, I’m standing on the sidelines, watching an uncontrolled demolition this time. Not of a building, but of the Republican Party. Like the Kingdome, the GOP has been carefully constructed, but instead of years of hard work, the Republican infrastructure took decades to build. I wonder, as I did then, how those who did the hard work feel watching it come crashing down.

It’s hard not to be gleeful, watching the pillars of the party scatter in all directions leaving an unstable base of support for the massive weight of corruption at the top. Sitting back and watching the Republicans destroy themselves is certainly entertaining and a fine short-term strategy, but we need to look past the trashed landscape before us and see the possibilities beyond. Yes, politically Democrats must find the best way to capitalize on Republican failures but we must also put our vision into words so that the American people will be able to see what we hope to create. Then we must do the hard work required to make that vision a reality. Not just the leaders of the party, but all of us. History teaches us that minor actions by ordinary people often create the spark for greater events that follow. Our small actions make a difference when viewed in that light.

On that spring day in 2000, once the dust settled, anyone within five miles of the Kingdome had some cleanup to do. There was a fine layer of gritty concrete dust on everything. It was a bummer, but it was easily cleaned up with a wet cloth. The cleanup from the GOP collapse will take a little longer. Slime tends to smears when you try to mop it up and it leaves a sticky residue even after several cleanings.

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