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Where Are The Democrats When We Need Them?

Before the election I heard many on the right talk about how the President should be elected so that the GOP could have a "super majority" in the leadership of this nation. After the election, when the Democrats were choosing a new leader, I heard many on the right say that they supported Howard Dean because he would lead the Democrat party to ruin.

I can certainly understand where the above sentiments come from. Regular readers of Say Anything are aware of the fact that I am very supportive of the Republican party. The ideals held by the party, for the most part, encompass my own.

The problem I have is this: Without a strong opposition party the GOP is not as good as it could be.

That's a simplistic, perhaps confusing statement so let me expand upon it.

I firmly believe that the Democrat party has been moving itself to the lunatic fringes of American politics for a while now and they continue to move in that direction every time some hack like Howard Dean opens his maw and spews invective across the political landscape. Or when some malcontent like Rep. Charles Rangel tells us that our troops in Iraq are no better than the Nazis. Or when some hack like Dick Durbin tells us that our troops in Guantanamo Bay are no different than the guards at Pol Pot's death camps.

This is why, I think, Republicans currently hold a majority in both houses of Congress and have their candidate in the White House in addition to having a majority of the state governorships. Americans want a party that will lead, not a party that will define their ideas by looking at what the opposition stands for and then choosing the position that is the polar opposite. In the last several years it seems like the Democrat playbook has had exactly one play in it: Oppose the Republicans. Heck, sometimes I'm not so sure that the play doesn't read "insult the Republicans" as that, at times, seems to be the sum total of Democrat response to any Republican initiative.

Is that healthy for this country? I don't think so. Here's why: Republicans aren't always right. In fact, they're wrong quite often. President Bush was wrong to sign campaign finance reform into law. He was wrong about the prescription drug entitlement he pushed through congress. He's got the wrong ideas about illegal immigration. He's made mistakes on the issues of homeland security and the invasion/occupation of Iraq. I could go on, but you get the point.

The problem most Americans have, however, is who do they turn to when Republicans are wrong? Right now I believe that Republicans are getting elected into office not so much because the voters support everything they do but rather because the GOP is the party that is the lesser of two evils. I think people tell themselves that, while the GOP candidate might not be perfect, at least his/her positions are definable beyond the petulant and often zany "oppose-the-Republicans-at-any-cost" shenanigans held up as a political agenda by most Democrats.

To put it simply, the Republicans aren't living up to their potential. I firmly believe that this country would be a much better place if more Republican politicians stood up for the core values that the GOP was founded upon. The problem is that, right now, they don't have to work that hard to get themselves in office. They only have to work hard enough to beat the Democrats.

This is probably a bit of an over-simplification, but currently I believe that the right side of politics in this country is made up of an uneasy reliance between the libertarian-minded, so-called "South Park conservatives" and the "social conservatives." What is uniting this coalition of two rather different political animals is a rejection of what the modern-day liberal stands for.

What I'm hoping for is that the Democrats will hit rock bottom soon. I hope, when that happens (and I think it will), that the Democrats eject Howard Dean and his ilk from the leadership of the party (or at least relegate them to the sidelines) and that the new left-right, Democrat-Republican divide will emerge between the South Parkers and the social conservatives.

That, I believe, would be much healthier for this country as a whole.

Rob Port owns and operates Say Anything.


Comments (9)

Rob, This is a per... (Below threshold)

Rob,

This is a perfect example of what Sen. Grassley meant by 'a Bush White House divorced from reality'.

As I've posted repeatedly on your blog, you act as if the last 8 months of Bush's second term never happened or has changed nothing since his November victory. The Republicans control all three branches of government - how can they not be living up to their potential?

There's a wealth of evidence that contradicts everything you've asserted in this post! Only here, can it plausible stand as the truth.

I believe this is 80% of th... (Below threshold)
John:

I believe this is 80% of the problem. The other 20% is that some Republicans are opportunist politicians. They know full well the Democrats have moved to the fringe and the Republicans, in part, are moving to the center to fill the void. Conservatives have no choice but to vote either center or far left. We're a captive audience that has no choice but to vote for them. They just want to secure enough of the not-so-radical left to stay in power. If they appeal to them long enough, they may permanently switch Parties. The Republicans are becoming the centrists part to cement their dominant role in government for years/decades.

The worst part is that the fringe by moving further and further left redefines what is centrist.

Awful, but true, John and R... (Below threshold)
BR:

Awful, but true, John and Rob. I'm also not enthusiastic about the Republican names coming up for 2008: Frist (weak), McCain (puppet of Soros), Guiliani (hm, maybe, but have some reservations about him.)

I always naively say: Why only two parties? How about more or none at all. Political "parties" are not in the Constitution. I'd rather have no parties - might lessen the powerful role of the dollar in elections and voters would really have to do their homework on who they vote for, not just rely on Red/Blue divisions. And best of all, the mainstream media and other 5th columnists (pun intended) won't have the opportunity to incite half the country against the other half.

Rob,It's not a pro... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Rob,

It's not a problem with the right-versus-left issue: it's a question of ideas and principles. When I was a card-carrying Democrat, we were the party of ideas. We were moving the country forward in positive ways. Now look at the DNC. They have been trying for more than ten years to come up with a set of principles -- not policies -- abstract principles that they are willing to defend even against other Democrats. They can't do it. Every time they try, they become open to attack for violating their own principles, or the principle is so commonly accepted that everyone (including the GOP) believes it.

Take as an example one of the most important ideals that I had as a Democrat: equal justice before the law. That's a critical one. The GOP took control of Congress in 1994 by deciding that Congress should abide by the same laws as everyone else, and the DNC leadership was totally against it. Bad move for the DNC.

The DNC used to be the party of the little guy. During the Clinton Administration we get stories about malicious prosecution of ordinary, honest people in the Travelgate scandal. We had the DOJ in Federal Court arguing that the President could not be sued. We had the White House attack machine smearing women -- until organization like NOW finally put a stop to it. We have abuses of power such as 900 FBI files illegally acquired and used to research the White House enemies. You have the President of the United States reported by his top aid as saying, "I can do any goddamned thing I want. I'm President of the United States. I take care of my friends, and I f**k with my enemies. That's the way it is. Anybody who doesn't like it can take a hike." And for all of these abuses, where the rich and powerful Democrat is crushing the little guy, the DNC will never, ever give up defending the Clintons.

The only real principle of the DNC is this: we oppose the GOP. Whatever they want to do, we're against it.

And the only reason that President Bush got elected, won his first mid-term election, and got re-elected is that the Democrats have been harsh critics, but the DNC never gets out of attack mode long enough to propose anything that the rest of us can vote for. We are waiting to hear an alternative proposal from the back-benchers for years now. And, apparently, it's never going to happen -- ever.

I would like to vote for a Democrat. But I vote for the party and what the party stands for -- not what it stands against. Don't give me this, "Vote for us. Those people are horrible, evil people." Frankly, I don't like a lot of what the GOP has proposed for the last ten years or so, but they have the only proposals on the table.

Here are some recent examples:
1. Bush runs in 2000 on a platform of getting the economy going with tax cuts. The DNC proposal: the economy does need any stimulus: everything is fine.
2. Bush gets into office and has to work on an energy policy because CA is a basket case and for the last eight years or so our energy policy has been, "Buy more foreign oil." The DNC proposal: nothing.
3. Bush attacks Iraq for a variety of reasons, including a neocon idea to reshape Middle East politics, in particular Islamic fundamentalism. The DNC is totally against it, but has no realistic alternative. To this day, they are in attack mode with, "We never should have gotten into this." OK, but even if you accept that idea, where does that get us? We're there: now we have to do something. Do you have anything constructive to say? No.
4. Bush proposes changes to Social Security. The DNC responds with www.thereisnocrisis.com.

It's pathetic.

Spot on, as some one who sp... (Below threshold)
wilky:

Spot on, as some one who spent my entire life in sports, the best way to improve is to go up against those that are better then you, or I should say slightly better than you or else your opponent won't get anything out of it. Those that gave me there best effort while abusing me, I considered my friend. Those that loafed while playing to my level, I considered my enemy.

And I'd like to second what Kevino said. I never voted in my 27 eligible years because I always knew who was going to win, and my vote would not have made a difference. I didn't know who was going to win this last election. I have my problems with Bush, he spends way to much. If the Dems put anybody but Kerry up they probably had my vote. But there is no way I was going to allow someone like Kerry get into office without my vote against him. What was wrong with Lieberman? the Islamist declared war on us and finally brought it to our shores and the Dems put up a anti-war candidate, one gets the impression they are brain dead.

I for one have no actual pr... (Below threshold)
Toby928:

I for one have no actual problem with a defacto 'One Party State'. If only one of the parties is insync with the electorate enough to get elected then they deserve to be elected.

Notice that I say defacto, NOT mandated by law (like the old USSR). What matters is not parties but factions. (something that IS mentioned in the Fed Papers and other writings of the founders) If the Republicans, or the Democrats, were the only party, I would not have a problem as long as there is a conservative faction within that party that I can support and who will represent me. Maybe I feel this way because I grew in the one-party Democratic south and now live in the one-party Republican South. We still have conservative and liberal factions here.

I actually believe we should have more, but more ideologically defined, parties. The greens, the capitalists, the abortionists, etc. They should field actual candidates at the local and state level but simply endorse at the national level. (I understand that in NY, the Liberal and Conservative parties operate this way)


Flame away!

Tob

Opinion Journal had a good ... (Below threshold)
JEW:

Opinion Journal had a good article today that alas I have to agree with. And I think it goes right to the heart of you post Rob.

http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110006890

The problem is the Dems are controlled by the wacky left and just keep getting stronger (with in their party). As the American public recognizes the Democrat party for what it has become, they are voted out of office. This is because a moderate’s base is closer to the middle. This leaves the Pelosi’s and Rangel’s in office because they truly are representative of their constituencies.

Why not a third party? Won’t work with our sys of election. It will always gravitate back to two parties. Maybe with a constitutional change where the party that takes the most seats installs the President it would work. Good luck selling that!

I’m afraid (because I buy into your idea Rob) that the Dems are on a long downward spiral. They are not even strong enough to mount a constructive opposition.

Just checking in and pullin... (Below threshold)
kevino:

Just checking in and pulling together two ideas from other comments:

Wilky is correct that the best way to get better in sports is to play people better than you. As a Libertarian kind of voter, I argue with liberals and conservatives. One of the things that I notice is that conservatives are much better at it because they practice. And when I make a point that they cannot counter, they admit it and seem to enjoy the exchange of ideas. I don't get that very much from liberals. They usually debate badly: wasting time on trivial issues, making fundamental logic errors, or displaying a poor understanding of history or the law. And when they start to loose, they get very angry.

Like Tob, I grew up in a Southern state (TN), but unlike Tob both parties were quite strong. No one party every got complete control for any length of time. The result was that both sides were pretty sharp, and both parties governed toward the center. Neither party could get too comfortable. It was a situation that worked well for both parties and for the people.

Liberals don't debate well, IMHO, because they're out of practice. They've spent too much time avoiding serious debate.

One last word about the DNC and principles.

A conservative writer once tried to ask various liberals why they supported Senator Edward ("Fat Boy") Kennedy after he sexually assaulted a waitress in a Washington DC restaurant; they supported Senator Daniel Inouye after he admitted to sexually assaulting his hairdresser; they supported President Clinton intimidating and attacking women that he harassed or assaulted to keep them quiet; but they went after Senator Packwood and Clarence Thomas for minor incidents. No one at the National Organization for Women would go on the record with an explanation. The reply by DNC consultant Susan Estrich is a classic:

"You believe in principle. I believe in politics."

Sad, but true.


thatcoloredfella said in th... (Below threshold)

thatcoloredfella said in the first comment, "The Republicans control all three branches of government - how can they not be living up to their potential?"

Can someone explain how we have a Republican court? Because I just don't see it.




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