Did you realize, this week, that nothing’s getting fixed soon? Did you realize, this week, that things are seriously awry in The Village? Did you realize, this week, that allies inside the Beltway — those we had counted on in our fight to reclaim the levers of government — might not be such great allies after all?

I did.

This week, I re-learned the meaning of The Long Haul. This week, I learned that changes we want to implement won’t occur with just one more spasm of BlueAmerica success accompanied by the election of a Democratic President in 2008. We are not building a movement to succeed in fourteen short months in removing all the vestiges of authoritarianism and fascism from our shores. Not when students and preachers are marching, this week, in Louisiana, to free a young man from a justice system that’s simply racist and wrong.

We are building a movement that will need to last generations. We must build our movement strong and hardy, to pass down to Americans just born and not-even-born. We must broaden our movement, to ensure we have alliances across generations, across race, across workplaces, across gender and faith.

Why? Why won’t our progressive movement succeed immediately? Why must we create and nurture a people-powered movement that is national in scope and rich in hue? Why must children today be engaged and taught that our country belongs to the people, and the people always have a voice in how our country acts? Why can’t we just put all our effort into the 2008 election and hope for the best?

For one reason, because these United States Senators (who voted for all of us to sit down and shut up!) will be in office until at least January 2013 — when our next President is inaugurated for a second term or our next President’s successor is inaugurated:

Democrats
Cardin, Benjamin L. (D-MD)
Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE)
Casey, Robert P., Jr. (D-PA)
Conrad, Kent (D-ND)
Feinstein, Dianne (D-CA)
Klobuchar, Amy (D-MN)
Kohl, Herb (D-WI)
McCaskill, Claire (D-MO)
Nelson, Bill (D-FL)
Nelson, E. Benjamin (D-NE)
Tester, Jon (D-MT)
Webb, Jim (D-VA)

Republicans
Barrasso, John (R-WY)
Corker, Bob (R-TN)
Ensign, John (R-NV)
Hatch, Orrin G. (R-UT)
Hutchison, Kay Bailey (R-TX)
Kyl, Jon (R-AZ)
Lott, Trent (R-MS)
Lugar, Richard G. (R-IN)
Snowe, Olympia J. (R-ME)

Independents
Lieberman, Joseph I. (ID-CT)

Not Voting:
Cantwell, Maria (D-WA)

Every single one of these United States Senators was just elected in November 2006. Each one of them voted for us to sit down and shut up. Do you think their views will be radically changed by the election of more BlueAmericans to the House of Representatives in 2008, or by the election of a Democratic President? I don’t. I think we learned their true colors, especially with regard to the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech: sit down and shut up. So, in five years, in November 2012, we will have an opportunity to rid ourselves of the last of the sit-down-and-shut-up caucus in the United States Senate.

Or — they will have had five long years to redeem themselves in our eyes.

Will that signal complete victory for our movement? Will that mean we have succeeded? Is that when The Long Haul ends victoriously? Or will that simply mean we can then Stand Up and Shout? I believe The Long Haul actually begins when we have a national legislature unafraid to stand up for free speech, unafraid to stand up for habeas corpus, unafraid to stand up for troop respite, unafraid to challenge the unitary executive, unafraid to stop election-stealing, unafraid to say that spying in America, on Americans, is wrong and must stop, unafraid to challenge the racism of our justice system. Only when the Senate is purged of the sit-down-and-shut-up caucus can The Long Haul begin. As long as there are Senators who voted for American citizens to sit down and shut up serving in the United States Senate, our work cannot truly begin.

Because the work of The Long Haul is all about Standing Up and Shouting Aloud: this is the People-Powered Movement, and we’re here to take back our country. So, teach your children well. Educate a niece or nephew. Be sure a Scout troop gets the correct civics lesson for its merit badges. Become a Big Brother or a Big Sister — and help your protege understand what makes our country work: People Power.

We’re in it for The Long Haul. And The Long Haul hasn’t even really started yet — these are just our First Throes.

Bring it on!