I am tired of talking. I am ready to listen.
Tell me what I can do, tell me what I can say, to open your hearts and your minds.
Tell us--Liberals, Democrats, the Religious Left (there is such a thing; there must be...otherwise we would only have to refer to you as "the Religious")--what to do, what to say, to get through to you.
Don't tell us what you want to hear; we know that already. You want to hear that you are right, that America and the world is safer and freer because of all you have done to this country.
I won't tell you that. That would be a lie.
I want to tell you the truth. But more than that, I want you to listen.
My fellows and I--the prominent and the obscure--have been toiling for years now, trying to make you see and feel the pain that you have inflicted on us, and on the people we love, and on the country we love, and on the world of which we are all citizens, and its citizens to which we are all connected. But you have closed your eyes and hardened your hearts.
We reasoned with you, but you would not listen. We pleaded with you, but you would not listen. Out of desperation we lost our tempers and shouted at you. Not only would you not listen, but you clicked your tongues and shook your heads and said, "This is what Liberals, Democrats, and the Religious Left resort to: shouting and name-calling." I freely admit that the shouting and name-calling was out of line, but it was born of frustration and desperation.
We offered you Barack Obama, and you answered with Zell Miller. We offered you Wesley Clark, and you answered with Donald Rumsfeld. We offered you Tom Daschle, and you answered with John Thune. We offered you Jon Stewart, and you answered with Robert Novak. We offered you John Kerry, and you answered with George W. Bush.
Whatever we do--whatever we offer--whatever we give--it is not enough. I am tired of reasoning. I am tired of pleading. I am tired of shouting. I am tired of fighting. I am tired. My heart is sad and sick. I am tempted to fight no more forever. I am tempted to let come what comes, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
It is not for myself that I fight; it is for my family. My brothers, two of three, who are second-class citizens in your eyes because they love not as you love. My sister, whose career of teaching children to learn and love music is considered quaint at best and unnecessary at worst. My parents, who had no health insurance when my father needed bypass surgery. My unborn niece or nephew, who will be taught that he must live in fear.
It is not only for my blood family that I fight; it is for my human family. As the Lakota say, Mitakuye Oyasin: "We are all related."
You are not our enemies. You are our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, our family. We ask you to stop treating us like enemies, to stop treating us like strangers, to stop treating us like second-class citizens.
It is not only for ourselves that we ask this. It is for all of us; one nation, indivisible...under the grace of a loving God who grants us the freedom not to acknowledge him if we so choose.
But I do not have the words to help you see this. All I have to say, I have said before, to no avail.
I have but one more thing to say: History is not on your side. I say this not to alarm you, to provoke you, or to mock you, but merely to inform you. You will not be seen as heroes. You will be seen as villains. You will be seen as tyrants. You will be seen as bullies.
One hundred years from now, people will view your push to prevent gays from marrying in the same light that we now view the push to keep blacks from voting. One hundred years from now, the Patriot Act will be viewed in the same light as the Alien and Sedition Acts. One hundred years from now, people will see the paranoia that led to the Homeland Security Act and the war in Iraq as the same paranoia that led to the Red Scare, the Cold War, and the war in Vietnam. One hundred years from now, if www.ready.gov still exists, it will be to serve as an example of the 21st Century's "Duck and Cover". One hundred years from now, people will remember Barack Obama's Democratic National Convention address as one of the greatest speeches in our nation's history, comparable to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and King's "I Have a Dream" speech. By contrast, if the people of the next century still study Zell Miller's address to the Republican National Convention, it will be for the same reason that they study Jonathan Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God".
You can't, or won't, see the parallels, but I do, and the people of the next century will too. They will have the benefit of perspective. So I tell you now, not to hurt you, not to goad you, but to warn you: your legacy will live on, but it will live in infamy.