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Victory, Now Get to Work

It looks like the Democratic Party has shed its stigma as losers, and Karl Rove has lost his mantle as the Evil Genius. It was already clear last night that the Democrats had won control of the House, but two Senate races were still too close to call, in Montana and Virginia. Now the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has declared that even though votes are still being counted, it is essentially all over. The Democrats will have a majority in the Senate as well.

    Both Jon Tester and Jim Webb have won their races in Montana and Virginia but want to make sure that every vote is counted. We…can happily declare today that Democrats have taken the majority in the U.S. Senate.

For years, those of us who love social justice and our Constitution have suffered as arrogance, incompetence and greed have eroded our democratic system. Many of us have wondered if a day like today would ever come. What would it take for the American people to wake up? What happened yesterday should have happened long before. The war in Iraq has been a feeding trough for Halliburton and other friends of the White House, at the cost of some 650,000 Iraqi lives. Just six weeks ago Congress passed a law that allows the president to arrest and torture whomever he likes in the name of the “war on terror.” The reckoning should have come long ago, and even today it has only begun. Still, it is a real victory. It wasn’t easy to get this far. What happened is at the outermost range of what we could have hoped for. The American people are now well and truly awake.

A gentleman from Japan put it as well as anyone can, in last night’s online discussion with Robert G. Kaiser of the Washington Post.

    After the World Trade Center attack the world wanted to work with America…but [we] were horrified to see America change before our eyes. I’m not talking of a change of policy, but a fundamental change in how America perceived itself and its relationship to the world.
    America became a different person, with a different personality, and the world by and large did not like that new person. This election may indicate that America itself has realised what it has become and does not want to be that person. The election is…a referendum on what America wants to be, and it appears to me that America has decided it wants to be a different person.

Waking up this morning, we find that we are a different person, and a better person. We are finally capable of acting like an adult, and taking some responsibility for the effects our actions have had on others. But because of the huge mess we have made over the past few years, moving forward will be an enormous task. We need to rethink our priorities and our methods for achieving them. We need to hold our leaders accountable. We need to restore transparency and trust, both at home and abroad.

So let’s celebrate this victory we’ve been waiting for so long, perhaps with a twinge of shame about how overdue it is. Then let’s get back to work, because reason never sleeps.

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