Is The Lining Silver Or Black?

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

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.

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

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