Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Democrats divided...Maybe not

Democrats divided?
Gene Lyons

Posted on Wednesday, May 3, 2006


With the Bush administration floundering in opinion polls, Democrats appear characteristically divided. Some are so confident of victory in 2006 congressional elections that they’ve begun to fantasize about investigations and even impeachment, not so much enumerating unhatched chickens as fantasizing about imaginary eggs. Others worry that timid national Democratic leaders will find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory yet again. Actually, Democratic fecklessness is partly a myth embedded in the so called liberal press by GOP propaganda. For a party that controls neither house of Congress and gets treated with open contempt by an increasingly authoritarian president, Democrats have actually had a pretty good couple of years. President Bush spent most of 2005 traveling the countryside like a patent medicine salesman, cajoling handpicked audiences about his Social Security “privatization” program, basically a trillion-dollar shell game. Democrats, however, held firm and the scheme went nowhere.

Likewise, pundits were puzzled when Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa., a decorated
Vietnam veteran and one-time hawk, called for a tactical withdrawal from
Iraq. Why didn’t party leadership rally behind him ? Basically, reports Amy Sullivan in Washington Monthly, because House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who helped persuade Murtha to make his misgivings public, realized that the ramrod-straight ex-Marine made a far better spokesman than she did.

This time, GOP attacks on Murtha’s patriotism failed. Polls show that strong majorities back his position. A recent Gallup Poll even showed that Democrats hold a slight advantage over Republicans regarding Iraq, although the leadership has offered no plan. That’s because everybody understands Bush’s plan: more of the same.

Recognizing that it’s hard to counterpunch your way to power, the Democratic Party has settled upon Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, a tough Chicago native, to head its 2006 campaign. Despite the obstacles presented by the current electoral map, with gerrymandered districts ensuring “safe seats” for congressmen of both parties (while keeping Democrats a permanent minority ), Emanuel plans to nationalize the contest by attacking the corruption and incompetence of the GOP rubber-stamp Congress.

Emanuel has almost unlimited material to work with. Not only does the
Jack Abramoff/K Street lobbying scandal keep revealing near-comical levels of corruption extending into House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s office and the White House itself, but The Wall Street Journal recently reported that FBI agents digging into defense contractors’ bribes paid to recently convicted former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., may have struck tabloid gold.

Supposedly at least a half-dozen Republican congressmen attended lavish, contractor-sponsored poker parties in Washington hotel “hospitality suites” where prostitutes were part of the entertainment.

Anywhere hookers go, TV cameras follow. Tie congressional sin to vanishing billions in Iraq or inadequate body armor for American soldiers, and Democrats might need no platform other than “We’re not them.”

Even so, a fascinating and long overdue debate has begun about how the party must change to recapture the loyalty and trust of the majority. Writing in The American Prospect, editor Michael Tomasky argues that voters see Democrats as a formless alliance of special-interest groups, from racial and ethnic minorities to proponents of gay marriage.

“At bottom,” he writes, “today’s Democrats from [Montana Sen. Max ] Baucus to [California Rep. Maxine ] Waters are united in only two beliefs, and they demand that American citizens believe in only two things: diversity and rights.”

That’s not enough. What’s missing, Tomasky thinks, is the Democrats’ historic sense of patriotism and community: the idea that we Americans are all in this together.

He fantasizes a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate announcing, “To the single-issue groups arrayed around my party, I say this. I respect the work you do and support your causes. But I won’t seek and don’t want your endorsement. My staff and I won’t be filling out any questionnaires. You know my track record; decide from it whether I’ll be a good president. But I am running to communicate to Americans that I put the common interest over particular interests.”

Granted, it’s a fantasy. But polls show that many voters think Democrats have no strong, unifying beliefs. Tomasky argues that after “seven-plus years of an administration that has done almost nothing for the common good,” Americans are more than ready for a message stressing patriotism, community and self-sacrifice. “Such arguments,” he believes, “can be constructed on behalf of almost every single thing the party purports to stand for: health care coverage for those without it, the need to protect the planet and take global warming seriously, energy independence, asset-building for African Americans and other disproportionately poor groups, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants... an industrial policy that addresses the flight of jobs, the health-care and pension crises,” etc. Critics argue that Tomasky fails to address the Democrats’ other perceived weakness, national defense. Even so, he’s made an excellent start.

–––––—Free-lance columnist Gene Lyons is a Little Rock author and recipient of the National Magazine Award.

Lily Tomlin said it best. "No matter how cynical I get, I just can't keep up."


Post a Comment

<< Home