Wil Wheaton on Where We Go From Here

…Or Else We Didn’t Win Anything At All

Wil Wheaton

Wil Wheaton

Most people remember Wil Wheaton as the overly precocious teenage officer on the bridge of the Enterprise in ST:TNG (Star Trek: The Next Generation.) He went from a kid whom Captain Picard usually wanted out of the way to one of Picard’s most trusted officers.

Wil has grown up, and he blogs. WWdn: In Exile. Just after the election, he wrote something important. “Don’t be a dick, or we didn’t win anything at all.”

See, for the last eight years, whenever liberals spoke out and stood up to the Bush administration on policies we thought were absolutely horrifying, we were labeled “anti-American” and “traitors.” We were told that we were “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” We were even told that we were responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. And now, with the election finally over (except in Minnesota), we are tempted to throw it in the conservatives’ faces. We are tempted to take it out on them.

But we can’t do that. Here’s why:

Point:

“I guess we’re supposed to be gracious in victory,” I said, “but I’m profoundly offended to hear ‘we need to look forward and not backward’ and ‘we need to stop being so partisan’ from the very same fucking motherfuckers who have been telling us that we hate our country and love terrorists for the last eight years? These are the same people who worked really hard to make sure that I and everyone who didn’t agree with their blind support of Bush and Bush policies didn’t feel welcome in our own fucking country for eight years!”

I looked down at my hands, which had involuntarily clenched into fists. I felt a frightening and unexpected, uncharacteristic fury rise in my chest.

“I want to grab these people by the throat and scream at them ‘HOW DO YOU LIKE IT FUCKER?! YOU LOST! YOU FAIL! YOU GO HOME NOW!’”

Counterpoint:

“We voted against intolerance for people that don’t share ‘the right’ views because we and people we respect and admire have been the victims of intolerance for too long. We voted against hypocrisy and fear and hate. We voted for a chance to change.”

I unclenched my fists and looked at little half-moons in the palms of my hands. “I should feel celebratory. I should feel happy and relieved. Why in the world do I suddenly feel so angry?”

“Seething quietly and privately is understandable and totally warranted. Just, every time you want to grab someone by the throat, try to remember how both Obama and McCain have always reacted to boos from their audiences. One man said ‘we don’t need any more of that’ – and that’s the administration we voted for. Because we don’t need any more of that. We need to chip away at the havens of hate in this country until there is nothing left for the haters to fight with. Because that is going to be the biggest payback of all.

“Someday, the people that ‘don’t feel welcome’ in a tolerant and just place aren’t going to feel welcome anywhere.

“We don’t need to take any shit from anyone, but we can not become the bullies we’ve hated. Or else we didn’t win anything at all.”

It’s a great time but not an easy one. We really have to mean it when we say that we want to work on improving the country. We have to guard against irrational exuberance over the election of Barack Obama. He won’t be able to wave a magic wand; it’s going to be tough, and there will have to be some compromises made and some deals “across the aisles.” We won, but we can’t afford to demonize the side that lost this year. Some are all ready counting on Obama to fail, and we can’t afford to allow further division. Policy, economics, all that stuff requires cooperation, and banking on their support and asking them to pitch in won’t happen if we treat them like they treated us.

Don’t be a dick when you talk to conservatives. Some of them are genuinely excited about Obama being elected, for whatever reason. Look at this video at Submitted to a Candid World. When’s the last time you saw Condoleeza Rice with such a genuine smile?

Don’t blow it, Democrats.

Tip of the Harmonica to Phil Plait.

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2 Responses to “Wil Wheaton on Where We Go From Here”

  1. February 3rd, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Charlie (Colorado) says:

    It’s also worth recalling that the dick-itude was hardly one-sided. From promulgating the “plastic turkey” story, to demanding Karl Rove be frogmarched, the liberal side of the blogosphere was hardly a model of civility, tolerance, and equity.

    You also won’t find any lack of people on the right side saying exactly the same thing you are: that the right was pure and innocent, and we shouldn’t descend to the level of the left.

    Now things have changed sides, and I end up reminding people on the right worrying about Alcee Hastings’ HR645 — which some people worry is being set up for Obama Militia Camps or something — that six months ago the left side was talking (apparently seriously) about the Bush plans to declare an emergency, overthrow the government and put the liberals in camps built by Halliburton.

    If you want to seriously get beyond the partisanship of the last eight years, it might be well to look at the nutcases on both sides.

  2. February 5th, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Mike Haubrich says:

    I don’t know who was trying to get Rove to be “Frog Marched,” but there was a call to have him testify before Congress on his role in the Valerie Plame affair. He escaped because of “executive privilege.” When you refer to the camps, that apparently was a conspiracy theorists’ fantasy. I had never even heard about it. There are whackos on the left, but you can’t seriously claim that policy proposals suggested by liberals are cause for the fear of socialism; and that is largely the focus of the nastiness on the right.

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