Column: End the pessimism

The United States has lost a great leader for an entire 30 days. Rush Limbaugh, moral compass of this great nation, shocked the world last Friday when he admitted that conservatism is not the only thing from which he suffers. In a desperate attempt to cope with the sound of his own voice, it seems that El Rushbo has become strongly addicted to pain-killers.

As one might expect, this is a major setback for conservatives. Now they will have to rely on Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the Washington Times editorial page and FOX News to spread their lies. Times are tough for Republicans.

So, upon hearing the tragic news, I decided to do my part and donate online to the saviors of the free world. After all, the Republican Party is known to strive on contributions from the little man, and President George W. Bush’s campaign funds are looking scarce.

As I opened up the party’s Web page, a popup lit up my screen asking, “Tired of all the pessimism?” At first, I assumed this must be an ad for some type of happy porn. Surely the party that predicted the apocalypse during nearly a decade of prosperity would never tire of pessimism. However, disappointing me on several levels, the popup turned out not to be porn but an advertisement for the Republican Party.

Apparently, conservatives have abandoned the years of negativity they had during the Clinton administration and have decided to look at the bright side of things instead. Talk about bad timing. Just this Friday, as I was reading a story in The Washington Post, “Iraq Has Its Deadliest Day in Over a Month,” the adjacent headline caught my eye: “Bush Urges Public to be Upbeat on Iraq.” Feeling a little down myself, I read the president’s statements. Doing his best imitation of “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” Dubya valiantly declared to the free world, “It’s a lot better than you probably think.” Wow, I get goose bumps just writing that.

Although Republicans are trying to make everything better by slapping a big smiley face on it, why do they suppose Democrats are so negative of late? Well, let’s think about it. Iraq has turned out to be a quagmire, and this administration is failing in its “sincere” efforts to get international support. Rumsfield admitted Saturday that he was “surprised” by Iraqi resistance. Isn’t there something in his job description that says, “You’re not allowed to be surprised”? It’s not exactly an emotion you want your Secretary of Defense to have.

And, of course, there’s the economy. Herbert Hoover is the only president who has lost more jobs, and Bush is closing in fast.

It is true that Democrats could brighten up a little. Joe Klein once wrote that for Democrats “every silver lining comes equipped not just with a cloud, but often with a full-fledged hurricane and heavy coastal flooding.” Pessimism is valid, but it needs to be mixed with the optimism that is to come. The presidential candidates need to present a very real alternative to Bush’s policies instead of just whining the whole time. Yes, we need international help, but how? OK, not being such an ass is a start, but then what? The economy is bad, but people aren’t exactly eating their own babies – at least not yet. What about stimulating the economy now and getting money into the hands of the 3.3 million who have lost their jobs during this administration?

With a clear alternative, the Democrats cannot lose this presidential election. No matter how many gold stars President Bush gives himself, it is undeniable that both the war and the economy have turned sour. Republicans can complain all they want about negativity, but if things keep going the way they are, the American voters won’t be so cheery come next November. So it’s time for Democrats to stop running as if they are out to beat George Bush and to start acting as if they are running for president.

-The writer, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet contributing editor.

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