A Permanent Opposition

This afternoon, my youngest daughter played in a piano recital at a college in St. Paul. The neighborhood is, in political terms, the belly of the beast. Driving home, we passed many cars with Kerry-Edwards bumper stickers (and some for Nader), and not a few homes that still displayed Kerry-Edwards lawn signs. I was struck by one in particular, that must have been five feet wide, and said across the top: “Hope is on the way!” What would cause anyone, I wondered, to leave lawn signs for losing candidates in place for months after an election?
Then there is this: My wife took this picture of a car with two Wellstone signs, nearly two and a half years after Wellstone’s death in an airplane crash.. One is the old “Wellstone!” campaign sign, while the other says “Wellstone lives! Don’t park the bus.”
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It seems to me that many Democrats–not a majority, probably, but certainly most of the party’s core–have gone into a state of permanent opposition. No election is ever over. No administration not favored by them can ever be legitimate. This is, I think, something new in American history–or modern history, anyway. In the past, elections were hard-fought, but when they were over, the lawn signs came down and life went on. Hatreds were not nursed–not, at least, on the mass scale that we see today. And people, by and large, accepted the quaint idea that once a government had been chosen by the majority, people should accept it and even, in foreign policy at least, give it their support.
For many, today, unrelenting opposition has become not just a political position, but a way of life.

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