Living Liberally Blog

Living Liberally Blog

Inaugural Plans

Four years ago, Drinking Liberally threw an "Unaugural Ball" -- this year, we have happier plans. In New York City, we're hosting the Living Liberally Inaugural Ball on Sunday, Jan 18th...and check back to learn about other schemes developing around the country (or toss your own ideas in the comments thread).

Surviving a National Car Crash

In a car accident, you hope your seat belts are on.
In our current economy, we need to ensure
government support keeps Americans strapped in.

Just as airbags cushion riders in trouble,
we need unemployment insurance, healthcare,
& mortgage support to cushion our fellow travelers.

To avoid a pile-up, you may need to accelerate,
just as we now need to accelerate our economy
with jobs, infrastructure & green investment.

And no matter how bad the car's condition,
nobody's left stranded at the side of the road.

Detroit's difficulties are trouble for us all:
if America's auto industry crashes, we'll need
smart safety steps to survive a national car crash.

Join the discussion & share a drink
(and have a designated driver, if you do)
with like-minded lefties & liberal libations
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

Keeping the Good Times Going

Thirteen days ago, an invigorating Tuesday night warmed our liberal hearts. Election Night brought the country to cheers and to tears, and as people applauded in the streets and shouted out windows and chanted in the subway in New York, I felt real hope and enthusiasm for our prospects.

Now, how long will that energy last?

Sure, the next day people were still sharing smiles during their morning commute...but in our over-saturated culture, will the emotions of our society really be swayed?

My experience on Saturday at the post office suggests the emotional impact wasn't just a one-day wonder.

I had to mail 75 boxes on Saturday. In NY, that means there's one post office I can go to: the main branch. And it's never fun carrying 75 boxes around a bustling city. So I wasn't in a great mood even before waiting for 40 minutes to get to the front of the line. And the guy at the counter wasn't thrilled by the 75 boxes either.

He opened a new window (so we wouldn't hold up the rest of the line) and got to work. He was fast (I actually always find the post office really efficient). And as we got to the final box, he asked me what all these packages were.

"It's for a political club I'm part of," I replied. I instinctively avoided details of my politics as this guy was at his job.

"Must've been a really busy time for you," he said. Then, he added, less tentatively than I'd been: "And a good time."

It wasn't that he was hunting for my political leanings; he just assumed them -- assumed that an American would have to have been excited by what had transpired.

I took the bait. "Well, these are celebratory gifts," I explained. And he smiled. I fished a button out of my pocket and handed it to him.

"Drinking Liberally!" he read out loud. "Now that's the change Barack Obama was talking about!"

He put the button on, becoming a newly-minted Drinking Liberally member right there at the post office. We chatted about where we'd been on Election Night, and saw each other off -- maybe not like good friends, but definitely like friendly neighbors.

A stranger and I made each other happy through our shared politics. More, he clearly just felt it a shared experience -- an American experience. He was proud of his country and there was no question in his mind that others would be to.

If that positive energy makes it back to Thanksgiving tables around the country next week, people will toast our President with their like-minded family members and will at least talk politics with their less agreeable family. That's a good thing for our country, it's a good ingredient to keeping the momentum going.

As we saw with marriage equality rallies last Saturday, politics is remaining central to many people's daily lives, not being shelved for 4 more years, or filed under "completed" on November 4th.

While it's the challenge of our Community-Organizer-in-Chief to turn this hope into a governing constituency, it's also all our jobs to keep talking politics...and maybe be a little less hesitant than I was at first.

Even 40 minutes at a post office isn't something that a little political joy can't cure.

We Didn't Completely Break Our Democracy Yet

The lamest duck invites the coolest kid over to his house,
& though they've disagreed & even dissed one another,
the two play nice in the Oval Office.

In a time of two wars, a veteran loses an election,
to a man who promises change in military direction,
& nobody's worried we'll see tanks circling the Capitol.

From the economy to healthcare to global climate change,
America's making new choices, possibly a leftward swing,
& right-wingers snipe on TV...but no sniping in the streets.

Despite flawed elections, curtailed liberties, timid press,
corporate interference, corruption, incompetence & fear..
we didn't manage to completely break democracy yet.

Our democracy's a little stronger than that after all...

Raise a glass both to the results of the election
& that we had an, that's worth toasting.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

The New New York Times

This morning, a bunch of people got punked, receiving forwarded articles pronouncing: "Ex-Secretary Apologized for WMD Scare."

Following a day in which Bush expressed regret over "Mission Accomplished" and "Dead or Alive," it seemed plausible that Condi Rice was trying to protect her legacy too.

But when, on my way into the subway, I get handed a paper copy of the New York Times declaring "Iraq War Ends," I knew it was a prank.

A prank...except that wasn't really tricking anybody (we generally knew the war wasn't over, universal healthcare hadn't yet happened and Bush wasn't standing trial for war crimes).

A satire...except it wasn't really funny. The reactions on the subway weren't laughter.

It was a parody...that elicited hope.

This project, which seemed to be dropped on the unsuspecting public by the Yes Men, got us know, the war could be over in and troops could start coming home in 6 months...CEO wages could be capped (especially as part of the bailout)...NYC bike lanes could be widened...and The Times editorial page could properly apologize for their complicity in the great Iraq deception.

Unlike the Onion which pokes at the truth with absurd headlines, this parody wasn't so far-fetched. The articles suggest a world that hasn't come yet, and maybe isn't immediately within reach, but is a few steps away...if we keep progressive pressure on this administration.

I saw people reading this fake paper -- not because they were tricked, nor entertained...but because it invited them to dream of the world they would wanted to see.

And who doesn't like to imagine?

The New Gulf War Syndrome

Reading Liberally Page Turner
by Nora Eisenberg

(We're honored that Nora Eisenberg, longtime friend of Living Liberally, award-winning novelist, and author of the soon to be published When You Come Home (Curbstone Press), the first American novel about the 1991 Gulf War and Gulf War illness, has allowed us to publish this special Veteran's Day post.)

What does a war injury look like? In the case of Iraq, we tend to picture veterans bravely getting on with their lives with the help of steel legs or computerised limbs. Trauma injuries are certainly the most visible of health problems – the ones that grab our attention. A campaign ad for congressman Tom Udall featured an Iraq war veteran who had survived a shot to his head. Speaking through the computer that now substitutes for his voice, Sergeant Erik Schei extols the top-notch care that saved his life.

As politicians argue about healthcare for veterans, it is generally people like Sgt Schei that they have in mind, men and women torn apart by a bullet or bomb. And of course, these Iraq war veterans must receive the best care available for such complex and catastrophic injuries.

What's Your Favorite Progressive Business?

With the election over, the discussion turns to how to keep progressive momentum going outside of the campaign. We need to do this to move a liberal agenda in DC; to keep newly-energized activists engaged; and to overall shift the debate in this country.

Pushing progressive values with your vote is one step; funding those values with your wallet is another. And with the holiday season coming up, it seems like this is a good opportunity to promote -- and support -- progressive businesses.

What's your favorite progressive business? Your fair-trade coffee provider, or your bar that hosts political events? Your local alternative performance venue, or an environmentally-conscious gift shop?

Let us know in the comments thread. At Living Liberally, we're working on a project called The Liberal Card that, as among other goals, aims to promote these businesses. We remember what a good resource Buy Blue was after the last election, directing us to businesses that leaned our way and warning us against those that didn't (and are happy that Advomatic will be reviving that program in the future). What was a good idea in '04 is an even better idea now. So suggest a few businesses to us (or offer yourself up if you are one) -- as we get ready to buy blue this holidays season.

End of Bush - But Not the End of Politics

The election is over. Bad guys lost. And Bush's time is at last coming to an end.

So we can rest, right?

Yes, we can celebrate -- and we've earned it. The end of the Bush administration and the start of a hopeful new chapter in America deserves to be marked, to be shared with friends and with your progressive community. And our good friends at CREDO are willing to pay for it. That's right, they'll fund 1,000 "End of Bush" parties over the next 10 days -- just sign up now (or attend one being thrown by your local Drinking Liberally).

But don't think of these as farewell parties. A progressive agenda still needs us: to support an administration that needs our advocacy, and to push the administration when it doesn't live up to our ideals. Too often, after Election Day, campaign offices close, grassroots groups go into hibernation and "fired up and ready to go" activists are left without a political anchor.

That's where Drinking Liberally comes in. By meeting regularly year-round, we serve a more important role between elections, creating continuity for your political energy, supporting a community that doesn't ebb and flow with campaigns.

CREDO gets it. They are an organization in it for the long haul; they've moved $60 million to progressive groups over the years, and they've invested heavily in infrastructure to register voters, get out the vote and protect voter rights. They have been an ally and an inspiration. And now, they are throwing these keep us fired up (and fed and tipsy and happy) for the battles to come.

Drunk on Democracy...with Drinking Liberally

Yes, we can.

Elect a new President, from a new generation,
with new vision, language, spirit,
& an American story unlike any past President
but increasingly like the story of America.

Yes, we can.

Start imagining solutions, not just problems,
as this moment of election already begins the work
of reviving our national spirit
& restoring admiration for America around the world.

Yes, we can.

Say no to fear & smears, slanders & panders,
no to callous, corporate, corrupt, cronyism,
say "No More" to war, torture & to utter disregard
for our earth, our neighbors & the least among us.

And now we need to keep up the fight:
to hold a new President & Congress accountable,
to create equal rights & protections for all,
to engage the public in governing, not just campaigning.

This week we got tipsy sipping the drink of democracy.
...but there's nothing wrong with being a democraholic.
Let's keep Drinking Liberally.

Raise a glass, a toast & a barbaric yawp
as we celebrate, embrace, hope & imagine
over liberal libations with like-minded left-leaners
at your local progressive social club.

Find - or start - a chapter near you.

This Week In Blackness - Election Night Edition

This momentous occasion deserves celebration, and with that is laughter. How many of us laughed out loud through the course of last night out of pure joy? Laughed as we embraced our friends?

Well, Laughing Liberally's Elon James White stayed up all night to cut a video to keep us laughing: the 12th episode of This Week in Blackness.