Archive for March 22nd, 2005

Groundwork

Another thing that the Democrats must keep in mind is the very high probability that Republican policies will lead to a financial or terrorist-inflicted disaster. An electoral scandal and constitutional crisis is also a possibility: I believe there are limits to just how large a margin election “gaming” and fraud can cover up without leaving behind a gun too smoky for the media to ignore. What happens if that threshold is exceeded, at least to the point where the election outcome is severely in doubt? What mechanisms do we have for resolving such a situation?

In theory, Democrats should be able to capitalize on any of these negative outcomes, as they can all be laid clearly at the doorstep of the Republicans. In reality, they would be pilloried by the Republicans and the media for opportunistically “politicizing” a national tragedy.

Therefore, what I’m advocating is that the Democrats get out in front and periodically raise a big stink (and for the love of God, don’t capitulate!) about the various ways that the 100% Republican-controlled government has made us vulnerable:

  • Failure to aggressively secure ports, Russian nukes, or chemical or nuclear plants
  • Stoking the rage of radical Islam.
  • Profligate deficit spending and reckless, unfair tax cuts, making us a debtor nation with potential archrival China our major creditor and reducing the dollar’s viability as the world’s de facto currency.
  • Destroying goodwill abroad, drastically reducing the chances of any further help in the event of a terrorist or financial emergency.
  • Failure to guarantee free, fair, and verifiable elections, compromising the legitimacy of our government.

This may admittedly be a little much, and some of it may be too abstract and need to be boiled down, but my point is that the Democrats need to be vocal about these issues in advance, so that everyone knows where they stand before the unthinkable occurs. It’s very easy to denounce terrorist attacks or stock market crashes after they happen, and both sides of the aisle will be doing exactly that. But the Democrats will be on the record as having warned of disaster, while the Republicans will be on record as steamrolling and shouting them down. This will give the Democrats standing and credibility to point the finger of blame after the fact.

My first thought was that they should be civil about it, but the more I think about it, the more I think righteous anger is appropriate, and will be harder for the Republicans to counter or dismiss. If you repeatedly warn someone that their actions will hurt America, and they accuse you of being an obstructionist or traitor, then I think you have a right, nay, an obligation to be furious when you are proven right.

Am I rooting for catastrophe? Of course not. I think it is highly probable, if not inevitable, but I desperately hope to be proven wrong.

What I am rooting for is that the Democrats will not let the Republicans get away with saying, “Well, these things happen, no-one could have seen it coming, we must all pull together now and do whatever we say,” as they did after 9/11. They must be held accountable for their willful refusal to protect America from harm.

I fear that the Democrats have neither the sense nor the spine to do this, or that if they do, that the media will not pay any attention. Their only hope may be to somehow find a balance between language sensationalistic enough that the media can’t stay away, but not so sensationalistic that the Democrats can be dismissed as marginal tinfoil-hat loonies. It’s a lot easier when the media is with you than against you, unfortunately.

UPDATE: Actually, I think this is how I would like the Democrats to respond to accusations of politicization (but without the swearing): “This is not about politics. This is about the Republicans lying and fucking up over and over again. They have proven beyond all rational doubt that they cannot be trusted with the reins of government, and we ask that when it comes time for the American people to make their voices heard once again, that they remember which party tried to protect their interests, and which party betrayed them.”

6 comments March 22nd, 2005 at 06:54pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Economy,Elections,Favorites,Media,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism

Is The Lining Silver Or Black?

I’ve been reading and pondering the Terri Schiavo case some more, looking for ironies and opportunities, which are often one and the same. Of course, there is the obvious one, which is that the Republicans are overreaching in their mad quest to placate their rabid religious/pro-life base, and that the American public in general is rather horrified by the whole ghoulish affair. While that is gratifying, I think it is overly optimistic to think that anyone will still remember this glorified sideshow in 2006, much less 2008, or that a whole lot of election hay can be made with it.

What is more intriguing to me is the continuation of the pattern of expanding federal and majority power at the expense of the states and the minority. The former is especially ironic, as the Republicans have traditionally been the (very selective) champions of “state’s rights”, using it as an excuse to give states the go-ahead to turn a blind eye to or actively encourage racism and pollution.

Where I’m going with this is that the Democrats should explore the possibility that this power grab, coupled with the 2000 election decision, may have weakened states’ rights constitutional standing, giving the federal government the right to step in when the state is not adequately protecting an individual’s rights. Granted, that’s not really what’s going on in Florida, but they’re pretending it is. As with 2000, they also claim that this is not a precedent, but I’m skeptical that anything can simply be declared not a precedent.

In any case, the next time the Democrats see a legitimate instance of individual rights being trampled while the state government looks the other way, they can point to 2000 and Terri Schiavo as justification for the feds stepping in. I would also like to see them bring this case up every single time someone’s life support is about to be turned off against their spouse/parent/son/daughter’s will, as with Bush’s Futile Care Act from back in his Texas governor days.

And I would like to see the Democrats cataloguing and filing away all of the Republicans’ tricks for consolidating majority power, especially the “nuclear option” if it comes to that, and using them mercilessly if they regain power in 2006 or 2008 or… ever (we’re going to turn into Russia if we don’t get serious election reform, but that’s another story altogether). It might not do much good with W. still wielding veto power (at least in theory; no-one’s ever seen him actually use it), but if we can get a Democrat in the White House, he or she is going to need FDR-like power to start reversing all the damage the Republicans have done at home and abroad.

The only sticking point would be how to make this temporary: What I would love to see is 2-4 years of rubbing the Republicans’ noses in their own parliamentary shit, and throwing their own self-serving words back in their faces every time they squeal about it, followed by a magnanimous bipartisan bill that enshrines into law all of the power-sharing, minority-protecting courtesies the Republicans blew up, like the 15-minute voting window, redistricting only after the census, and possibly the filibuster. Preferably with some strong and eloquent verbiage about why the bill was necessary, to be trotted out when future congressmen attempt to remove or circumvent it, as they undoubtedly will. I really do like the jiu-jitsu idea of using the Republicans’ own blind self-interest against them, both by taking advantage of the power they grabbed, and then using it to make them beg for a return to the comity they destroyed.

What can I say, I’m an idealistic dreamer. In the real world, if the Democrats ever do retake control, the only suspense will be whether they use their new power to exact revenge, or just hand the club back to the Republicans and beg for more beatings because it makes them feel loved.

And, of course, if the Dems don’t start winning elections, then the Republican race towards single-party dictatorship will accelerate, as they continue to chip away at the integrity of the Constitution and the electoral process, unchecked by emasculated Democrats and a judiciary increasingly infiltrated by hard-right ideologues.

March 22nd, 2005 at 06:38pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Choice,Constitution,Democrats,Elections,Favorites,Judiciary,Politics,Republicans,Schiavo


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