Forward at Rahm-ing speed with Emanuel

By Emma Claire Sohn

On my way to class this morning I spotted a “Gill for Congress” button, a fleeting reminder of yet another tragically good-hearted campaign, another liberal pursuit ending in disappointment on election day. But as Democrats we are accustomed to commemorating these lost battles via expired campaign buttons, an ideological salute to our overworked conscience, and a sign that our hearts are in the right place despite the musings of our opponents.

Yet today liberalism is in vogue, as well it should be. Every indicator nods in our direction- control over Congress and the Senate, a pseudo-celebrity presidential candidate, and even some Republicans wandering over to our side, at least in respect to the war.

But how did we get here? The non-confrontational philosophy of Democrats has earned us a reputation as “losing liberals.” We subscribe to the politics of kindness, looking out for our fellow (wo)man as we would ourselves. This communal philosophy yielded disastrous results for our party in 2000 and 2008. So how exactly did we pull the rug from the Republicans last November?

The answer lies in representatives like Rahm Emanuel, of Illinois’ 5th district, a man who as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fueled the 2006 election for the Dems. Emanuel is one of the few politicians in Washington today deserving of a primetime characterization (he is said to be the basis for Bradley Whitford’s character, Josh Lyman on the West Wing). Trained in classical ballet, Emanuel passed on offers to study at the Joffrey Ballet to spend his undergraduate years at Sarah Lawrence College, later earning a Masters Degree in Speech Communications from Northwestern University.

Emanuel has since effectively channeled the tenacity demanded of him in ballet to the political realm. This is the kind of administration that the democrats so desperately need in Washington-a man who blends the dedicated eloquence of a ballet dancer with an eager passion for the issues and yet still maintains the kind of humility required to mingle with constituents at the local grocery store, where he was headed when I spoke to him Friday afternoon.

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    Rahm holds strong in a country filled with disillusioned Democrats. “Politics has always been a hard-hitting business, but its worth fighting for,” he advised me. If you have a view of America and you want to see certain things that you care about happen in your country, it is tough but worth fighting for and therefore you go through the political process.”

    The habitual flaccidity that accompanies the Dems is not be confused with compliance, as proven in November. But this will need to be emblazoned in the voters’ minds between now and the 2008 election in order to secure victory.

    Congressmen Emanuel also warned that it will take more than unbridled enthusiasm to win the White House in 2008- we will have to convince the right of our vision as well. “In this area to get things done you have to work across the aisle,” he said. “And that’s based on commonality on issues and based also on common experience.”

    Passivity is all well and good where applicable, crossword puzzles for example. You would be hesitant to claim a seat on the bus next to someone spewing expletives over the New York Times. But once you graduate to say, Scrabble, a degree of aggression is required. These are facts the more belligerent Republicans abide by.

    Our liberal representatives in Washington will need to recognize and adopt ferocity akin to Emanuel in order to regain the White House in 2008. But as my beloved future president bellowed as he announced his candidacy Saturday morning, the 2008 presidential race will be about what “we can do together” as a party to change the nation.

    So wake up! Stick to your figurative guns, you that so adamantly oppose literal interpretations of the second amendment. Let us relish in our newly attained congressional authority and sustain our sentiments through 2008 and beyond.