This is a call to arms for the creative communities of the Nation, from superstar artists to the titans of industry in entertainment, to close the 2010 elections with a great last stand to keep hope alive and defend the dream from those who would turn back the clock.
The entertainment industry has been at the center of major historic events from the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt to the new frontier of John F. Kennedy, from the election of Bill Clinton to the inaugural of America’s first African-American president, Barack Obama.
A column by definition is an opinion piece, and this call to arms makes the case that the election of 2010 is just as important as the great presidential campaigns in history, that the all-out participation of the creative and entertainment communities is not only of paramount importance, but could decide the outcome of the election.
From the moment that President Obama was inaugurated, he has been under relentless attack by a Republican Party in Congress that literally opposed every attempt to move America in more enlightened directions, and he has been under relentless attack by a conservative money and media machine fuelled by hundreds of millions of dollars of conservative donations and investments while their more liberal counterparts have stood by mostly silent, by comparison.
It is true, as many liberals believe, in Hollywood and elsewhere, that the Obama presidency has not brought the magnitude of changes and reforms that should have been at the forefront of the agenda. I was one of the President’s earliest “insider” supporters, and have made this case, repeatedly, in my column in The Hill newspaper and in private memos to highest level Democrats in Washington.
Part of the responsibility lies with the President and Democrats in Congress. But even larger reasons are the corruption of politics by oceans of dirty money that oppose any change, the complete obstruction of change by a Republican party hell bent on making President Obama fail from the day of his inaugural, and a politics of intolerance, fear and hate that increasingly infects our debate and poisons our civic discourse.
Remember the politics of personal attack and character assassination against Bill and Hillary Clinton that also began at the dawn of the Clinton Presidency?
Remember the ugliness of attacks against Al Gore when he began to champion the battle to save the earth from the ravages of pollution?
Remember the savagery of the attacks against John Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Edward Kennedy when they, too, battled for change that would lift all the boats of our nation?
Remember the intolerance and fear chronicled so brilliantly by George Clooney in his landmark film about the great CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, who stood against the politics of hatred of the McCarthy era when political opponents were treated as enemies of the state, when even liberal war heroes were branded as traitors by extremists, and when books were burned and blacklists ruled Hollywood?
And now we have those who seek the burning of Korans and practice the vandalism of mosques, those who Swift Boat war heroes from the Vietnam war, those who say their opponents are not quite Americans, those who claim that jobless workers are lazy bums, those who peddle the delusion that global warming is a myth, those who charge that standing up for American workers is socialism, and those who preach that even friends of freedom in foreign lands should be demonized and feared simply because they are “foreign”, which Hollywood above all knows is the new big lie in a world where American culture and entertainment are valued across the continents.
And those who believe this want to elect a Republican Congress, whose leaders already threaten a wave of subpoenas using the same tactics that Richard Milhous Nixon used to tar his California Senate opponent as the “pink lady”, the same tactics that Joseph McCarthy used to blacklist Hollywood stars and screenwriters, the same tactics a Republican Congress attempted to smear and impeach President Clinton, the same tactics that same recent Republican Congress used to attempt to slander and demean and destroy Hillary Rodham Clinton because she is a brilliant and powerful woman with a vision of America that challenges their backward and reactionary view that people they don’t like, of whom there are many, have to “learn their place”.
Liberals not thrilled with Obama? You bet. Neither am I.
But all over America there are heroes and icons like Senator Barbara Boxer, fighting for her political life against a superwealthy former CEO who was fired from her company for mismanaging the business, while she made the fortune she is spending to defeat Boxer by compensating herself lavishly for firing American workers, exporting America jobs and doing her part to attack the American economy while collecting her million dollar paychecks.
When I ask whether Hollywood can save the Democrats, here is what I mean:
When the polls show the Republicans have a strong chance of gaining control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the United States Senate, what they really mean is that so many of those who believe in real and lasting change are not planning to vote.
The polls clearly show that if the voting turnout is large, the parties are evenly divided, but if those who hate the President and think liberals are evil vote in record numbers, which is now the trend, while those who favor the ideals voters supported in 2008 stay home, which is now the trend, the Republicans win a landslide.
In 2008 a historic enthusiasm and excitement inspired by the candidacies of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton changed the course of history. If the Republicans win back the Congress in 2010, the 2008 election is effectively cancelled.
If the 2000 election was stolen from Al Gore, the 2010 election will be surrendered by Barack Obama, by Democrats in Congress, and by us because those who would crush the dream fight harder than we do to keep it alive. Those who would kill the dream vote more often than those who would make it happen. And those who bankroll the slander of patriotic progressives write checks measured in millions of dollars, like Rupert Murdoch, or tens of millions, like the conservative Koch family, while those of great wealth on our side, acting like the Sunshine Patriots that Thomas Paine wrote of when the colonists crossed the Delaware, write checks that are paltry by comparison to those who would destroy the dream.
This is a call to arms for the creative community across the nation, from the great Hollywood stars who can inspire masses to vote, to the big cahunas with the juice to write the really big checks. From the singers who stood under Abe Lincoln when the first black president was inaugurated, to the screenwriters and playwrights and authors who inspire us to reach for the stars with words that come alive in our hearts, and thoughts that light fires under our asses for the freedom, and tolerance, and justice, and dignity, and spirit of community that makes America America.
The 2000 election was stolen.
The 2010 election must not be surrendered.
It is time to make a stand.