Column No. 84 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - November 10, 2005
After last week’s excursion into a little pre-indictment indictment-analysis, in this week’s column I am returning to a consideration of how the Democratic Party needs to be transformed if it is to become a true opposition and governing alternative to the Georgite juggernaut.
It should be noted that while many outside observers presently see the Georgites as politically wounded, on issues ranging from Iraq to Katrina to the Libby indictment to the crimes-and-corruption scandals involving both Administration and Congressional Republicans, to the continuing low poll numbers, Bush doesn’t see that picture at all. He sees that he sits in the White House and will do so for more than three more years. He sees his party in power in the Congress with at least a 50/50 chance of keeping power following the 2006 elections, if for no other reason than that the Democrats are so weak, politically. He sees his party, that of the Republican Religious Right, fully taking over the Supreme Court through the Alito nomination – unless the Democrats are able uncharacteristically to find some strength and mount a successful filibuster. And so George II proceeds with governing the only way he knows how: by following the dictates of the middle-finger school of political science.
How to act against this is the big question we all keep asking ourselves, as the Democratic Party has done for years, and as outside observers have done for years. I have examined repeatedly the Collaborationist-DLC approach to the problem (see TPJ , “Future of the Democratic Party III,“ for my take on Carville’s latest). Another recent DLC version of “what to do” comes from Rahm Emmanuel, a former Clinton White House operative now in Congress from Chicago and head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. According to the November 2005 issue of The American Prospect (p. 14) Emmanuel, aided by a variety of top Congressional Democrats from both Houses, have come up with this agenda for “going to the people with a unified program for 2006:” making college universal in the 21st century, getting the federal budget under control, achieving energy independence, creating a new national institute for science and technology, and providing health care to all working Americans.
Now that’s a winner, isn’t it? Really exciting, no? A total turn-on for the voters, don’t you think? Goes for the Georgite weaknesses? Takes what the Georgites are giving us and turns it on them? Really addresses the major harms being done to our nation, our Constitution, and the world at large by the Georgites? I wonder. Nothing on Iraq. Although something on energy policy, nothing on global warming. Nothing on the fundamentalist attack on science. Nothing on the “Bathtub Theory of Government” and the “Reverse Robin Hood Theory of Taxation.” Nothing on Grand Theft Elections. Nothing on the attack on the right to freedom of belief as to when life begins as well as the attack on a woman’s right to choose. And so on and so forth.
I am sure that that Collaborationist-DLCers do not for a moment see themselves as collaborators, enablers, and enhancers. I am sure that they truly believe that there is some “middle-ground” on many key policy issues and that a large group of “middle-ground” voters can be won over by some “middle-ground” program. As we proceed to examine where the Democratic Party must be going, and soon, if Constitutional Democracy is to be preserved, let’s briefly take a look at this “middle-ground” theory, on the major issues.
Is there a “middle ground” on Iraq? No. It’s either “get out” or “stay the course.” Each of those needs to be defined further by their advocates. What “Course” is being talked about, at what cost in lives and materiel, for what end? “Getting out” can be done in a variety of ways; my specific proposal appears in TPJ, “An Iraq Solution”. But on overall policy the two are mutually exclusive. There is no “middle ground” on global warming. One either accepts the evidence or one doesn’t. If one accepts the evidence, there is certainly much worthy debate on how to go about dealing with the problem, but the evidence-deniers are not part of that discussion. “Intelligent Design” either is science or it is isn’t. No middle ground there. One either believes that human life begins at the moment of conception or that it begins sometime later. If one believes in the former one then also believes that the latter belief should be criminalized. No middle ground there either. For a summary of my position on the whole “values” question, see TPJ, “Bill Frist’s Declaration of War”.
Now the DLC-ers apparently deny this reality. They thus tell us that the only way for Democrats to win is to trim our issues-sails and go after that large pool of “middle-ground,” “moderate,” voters projected to be out there. They tell us that the reason that Democrats lose is that we have been “too liberal” (see the analysis of the Carville position in TPJ , “Future of the Democratic Party III,”). Several problems here. As discussed at some length in the latter column, there is simply no evidence that the Democrats have been running radical or even “very liberal” candidates in national or even state-wide races, who have then lost. Do they mean Tom Daschle? As to the House, a significant chunk of the RRR majority there is the result of the unconstitutional Delaymandering in Texas (not challenged by the DLC, to my knowledge). As to the pool of “middle-ground” voters, there is no evidence that it is either very large or that it would be won over to the Democrats by running on Emmanuel-type platform. Current evidence that this is so? Current Bush approval ratings and poll numbers on the Iraq War (see Steve Gheen’s excellent analyses of same in recent issues of TPJ).
Third, and I dealt with this one over and over again in the run-up to the 2004 election, there is a rich vein of potential Democratic voters to be found by the huge number of elgibles who just don’t vote because they see no reason to do so, for they do not see their issues being addressed. How do we know the latter is true? First, see a book entitled The Vanishing Voter, by Thomas E. Patterson. Second, if it weren’t, why would the Republicans spend so much time, effort, and money trying to keep the voting totals as low as possible, especially in non-white, other poor, and youth-dominated areas of the country? Third, some proportion of them (not enough, but some) were mobilized by the efforts of Move On, etc. Finally on this point about “going after the middle ground,” the DLC makes the assumption that the Democratic Party should not place the real issues facing the country before the voters because people cannot grow, change, be educated. Now that’s creative, isn’t it?
Three columns ago I set forth the following as the Big Four, top-tier of problems facing our country now:
I. Achieving an end to the US War on Iraq, with a return to the multi-lateral foreign policy that worked so well for our country from the time we entered the Second World War until the advent of Georgitism, and a return to abiding by the UN Charter, which forbids “pre-emptive war” of the Georgite type. A specific plan for achieving that withdrawal can be found in my column of Sept. 1, 2005.
II. Making the protection and promotion of Constitutional Democracy, in accordance with the Preamble to the Constitution, the center of the Democratic Party’s approach to governing. A return to the System of Checks and Balances and the requirement that the President abide by the Constitution is essential
III. A vision of government that understands that big problems require big solutions, that when necessary for the common economic good, government needs to be big, that the Norquist Doctrine of Bathtub Government needs to be flushed down the toilet. On the other hand, when it comes to matters of personal belief in such matters as when life begins, expression, and adult behavior, government needs to be small. This is the exact opposite of the Republican view, which wants government to be overwhelmingly big when it comes to such matters and overwhelmingly small when dealing with the economy.
IV. A return to totally free elections, and a full-scale assault on the Republican practice of Grand Theft Elections. The recent GAO analysis of ballot corruption (to view the full report: http://www.democrats.reform.house.gov/Documents/20051021122225-53143.pdf.) and the Report of the Carter-Baker election reform commission, http://usgovinfo.about.com/b/a/203832.htm, are good places to start. See also Mark Crispin Miller’s new book, Fooled Again.
The DLC wants to have nothing to do with any of the above. Let me add to that list now the “second-tier,” key issues with no descriptions (most of which the DLC also wants no truck with):
A. Managing the economy.
B. Taxation policy.
C. Export of jobs.
F. Energy policy and global warming.
We shall return to them, of course. A rather different list from that of the DLC, no? A list that arises from a reality-check. A list that envisions an all-out assault, as I noted at the outset, on the major harms (in the plural) being done to our nation, our Constitution and the world at large by the Georgites. A list that can easily be used to mobilize our base, educate the people as to what is really happening under the Georgites, and bring masses of new voters into play. Next week shall begin looking at what specific steps can be taken to start pointing the Democratic Party in the direction it needs to go if the Georgite Juggernaut (yes, I do like that one) is to be derailed.