Saturday, March 18, 2006

Lies, Democratic Unity and the Real Path to Power

Let's be clear about something: if every Senate Democrat voted to censure George Bush, they would be taking a position consistent with that of the majority of the American people (who want terrorists spied on, but only in compliance with the law), and they would guaranteed a big win -- possibly retaking both houses of Congress -- next November. There is ZERO downside to a party-line vote for censure.

But a split-party vote on censure will confirm what everyone (even, in their heart of hearts, most Democrats) think about Democratic politicians: that they are wimpy, wampy, wombly pols with no allegiance to principle, no sense of organization or party loyalty, and insufficient testosterone levels: if we can't even challenge an arrogant, partisan, low-polling President who admits breaking the law, how the hell are we going to protect our nation from terrorists? A party that can't even bring itself to censure Bush (never mind impeach him) is not ready to govern; it probably would screw it up almost as badly as the Republicans if it did take power, and America desperately needs something better than "not as bad as Bush."

Yet the people who actually control the Democratic Party are preaching exactly that lackluster, lackprincipled approach:

There is a vacuum in the heart of the party’s base that Feingold fills, but at what cost? His censure proposal looks like a stunt, “the equivalent of calling for a filibuster from Davos,” says Marshall Wittmann, a senior fellow with the centrist Democratic Leadership Council. To win in ’06, he says, “Democrats need to take the Hippocratic Oath: first, do no harm.”

In other words: to win, says the organization that has led the Democrats to their weakest Congressional position in 100 years, Democrats shouldn't change a damn thing.

Such elitist, unprincipled defeatism is, of course, amplified by the yellow press. With more Americans supporting censure than opposing it, "journalists" like Eleanor Clift continue spreading the lie Republican talking point conventional wisdom that most Americans are against Feingold:

The broader public sees it as political extremism. Just when the Republicans looked like they were coming unhinged, the Democrats serve up a refresher course on why they can’t be trusted with the keys to the country.


(1) More Americans support censure than oppose it.
(2) Two out of three Americans think Bush is doing a bad job, even on national security (the issue Democrats supposedly are "weak" on).
(3) Since the Democratic Party started running to the right, it has consistently lost elections.
(4) Copying the successful Republican strategy for victory doesn't mean moving right like them, it means moving LEFT -- moving, as they did, back to the base and shifting the center of discourse in the direction that our party, and demonstrably not their party, is recognized as representing. As I wrote below:

The Republicans won complete control of government not by running to the center, but by running to the right and persuading the media and the American public to shift right with them. They don’t tolerate defections from the party line; they stick to centrally-distributed talking points and abide by rigid party discipline enforced by a man nicknamed “The Hammer.” They don’t fall silent when discourse turns discordant; they trot out the Big Lie and repeat it so often that it becomes Truth in the same way that big mountains create their own weather. They won by doing the exact opposite of what the DLC crowd preaches we need to do to win.

It’s as if the Democratic leadership doesn’t understand how mirrors work: the key to Republican success wasn’t in the fact that they ran to the right (and that we similarly must shift right if we want to win); it’s in the fact that they ran AWAY from the center -- became more extreme -- and in doing so earned both the support of their base and the trust of centrist voters, who respect people who can articulate and adhere to principles even if they don’t agree with all of them. Copying the Republican formula for success doesn’t mean becoming more conservative, it means becoming more liberal and being proud of it. Articulating, and expecting some reasonable degree of adherence to, a unifying party platform is a good way to articulate principles and win elections, and if that means tossing one or two enablers like Lieberman overboard, good riddance; they're dead weight anyway.

What's frustrating about all this is that the Democratic Party is so much better than this. The Bush Republicans are endangering and bankrupting our nation; Democratic policies could restore our fortunes. But to regain power, and to make a positive change if we do achieve power, we need to be both liberal and courageous -- i.e., act like Democrats instead of DLCers for a change.

Feingold's censure resolution is only a "gift to the Republicans" if the Democrats splinter. If they hang together, it would be tossing the drowning President a brick: a Democratic party unified against Bush would look, for a change, like a party of unity and principle, and the President and his party would come across as the bad children they are, scolded by grownups for doing wrong and told to straighten up.

Feingold's resolution is the path to both power for the Democrats and good government for the nation. Why can't anyone inside the Beltway beside Russ Feingold and Karl Rove recognize that simple fact?



lucretia said...

The Beltway Democrats in office do not want to do what Feingold is doing now, or what Dean has done all along.

These Beltway Demo congress people (DLC'ers) are I think to some extent rigid too. They have walked in lock step for several years--no real change. They have less issues on their agenda just like the far-right--they are much less creative than regular Democrats.

They expect to win I think by staying the course of reasonableness and good behavior with 'values.' This way when the Bush group skids off, the voters can turn with security to them knowing the important issues will be taken care of without radicalism.

The country has been inundated with the concept that anything liberal is bad,dangerous. God knows what they think people on the left are like. These wonderful words liberal and left have been framed into BAD, and accepted as such; or if not quite, people certainly question them.

This is ridiculous because most adults over 20 have had enough experience along with history in school that the reality of liberals/leftists in 60's, 70's, even early 80's shows otherwise.

Using 9/11 the far-right, which is so right-wing now that it is definable as facisism, has made the absolute most of fear to build towards a totalitarian state. Look at the Bush control of all branches of Fed. government, corporate control of all mainstream media, and major businesses having grown to the level of corporate and multi-national.

Charlie said...

More American's support censure than oppose it?

What planet are you on? That's totally preposterous. You have NO reliable mainstream poll to back up that nonsense.

If we Dems go forward on crap like this we'll lose our butts in November. Geeeesh get a grip!

Anonymous said...

american research group poll

in favor of censure - 48% of voters,

opposed - 42%

Charlie said...

What a crock. Why are you making this garbage up?

ARG is firm focussed on consumer research. Their web site does have a couple of polls available but neither is political.

There is no poll that in any way reflects your mythical support across America for censure.

Anonymous said...

More American's support censure than oppose it? What planet are you on? That's totally preposterous. You have NO reliable mainstream poll to back up that nonsense.

What a crock. Why are you making this garbage up?

You accuse me of making things up? :

Do you favor or oppose the United States Senate passing a resolution censuring President George W. Bush for authorizing wiretaps of Americans within the United States without obtaining court orders?
3/15/06 All adults

Favor 46%
Oppose 44%
Undecided 10%

Did you even bother visiting the website that both I, in the post, and a commenter directed you to before you stated so self-righteously that "Their web site does have a couple of polls available but neither is political"?

Christopher said...

Eleanor Clift is drinking the Kool Aid these days. She's a shrew and a harpy.

Ellie Finlay said...

This is an outstanding post, Thersites2. I have quoted it and linked to you over on Child of Illusion.