There is no opposition party in Washington
In describing the Democratic response to Bush’s sabre-rattling toward Iran, Power of Narrative’s Arthur Silber summed things up neatly:
They don’t object because — they don’t object.
The only thing wrong with Silber’s assessment is that it was limited to Iran. In truth, you could just as easily use those seven succinct words to characterize the Democratic Party in general. Time and time again, on critical issue after critical issue, the Democrats fall in line with their Republican leaders and do what they’re asked. They do the will of the GOP instead of the will of the people. They act in the interests of the nation’s narrow power elite instead of in the public interest. They follow instead of leading. And they do so because – they don’t object.
Some examples illustrate the point.
- Despite winning a majority in both houses of Congress largely on America’s unhappiness with our open-ended occupation of Iraq, and despite controlling the pocketbook needed to extend that involvement further, the blank-check Dems bankrolled over and agreed to continue funding Bush’s Folly.
- Thanks to the help of 3/4 of the Senate Democrats, the flagrantly anti-liberty “Patriot Act” was renewed last year.
- The Dem-controlled Congress voted to extend the extremely problematic Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) just like Bush told them to.
- Although there’s still some hope on this one, there remains a great chance that the Dems are going to help the GOP grant retroactive immunity to the telecoms that helped the NSA conduct a massive illegal spying campaign on American citizens.
- Teddy Freakin’ Kennedy, of all people, made sure the Dems were doing their part in Bush’s War on Education by helping extend No Child Left Untested, an epic trainwreck that our nation will still be paying for three generations from now (and that’s the best-case scenario).
- Key Democratic “leaders” like Feinstein and Schumer helped assure that we now have an Attorney General who can’t say for sure whether or not waterboarding is torture. Schumer seems to have been the Kabuki-master all along, but what do we expect from a guy who thinks Newt Gingrich is a “great thinker” who’s “trying to find a way to bridge the gap between Democrats and Republicans.” (I can maybe give you the first part – even if he’s pure evil Newt has given us evidence that he possesses a shrewd mind. But if you buy that last part you shouldn’t be entrusted with anything more dangerous than lint.)
- The Dems rolled over on Alito and Roberts, two Justices who now give the social reactionaries a dangerous edge on the Supreme Court. Could they have stopped those appointments? Hard to say for sure because they didn’t even try.
We could go on here, I suppose, but what would be the point? Let’s sum this all up with a simple question: What has Bush asked for that the Democrats have not given him?
That’s an actual question, and I’d love an answer. Maybe you can provide an example or two. If not, my point is proven, and if so, I imagine the smallness of the “victories” will do little more than highlight the massiveness of the defeats described above.
On the whole the Democrats were a lot better off when they were the minority. Under those circumstances they could bluster and pose all they liked, and since we all knew they lacked the votes to actually do a lot many Americans were lulled into believing them. This engendered a good deal of doomed hope about what would happen in the aftermath of last year’s dramatic re-taking of the Capitol.
I’m not innocent here, either. For a long time I was on record saying that I didn’t see a lot of difference between the two parties, but the sheer abomination of this presidency – easily the worst of my lifetime – just about convinced me that maybe I was wrong. And when one party is conducting a full-monty assault on the Constitution, the Treasury, our students, the middle class, the working class, and basic human decency in general, it’s easy to develop fond deelings for those who are standing in front of microphones condeming it.
However, now that they’re allegedly in charge we expect action. Specifically, we expect action that’s consistent with the words they’ve been pandering all these years. If you say “we’ll do X if you elect enough of us,” and we elect enough of you, we’re going to expect you to do X. If you get filibustered then maybe we need to elect even more of you, but when you don’t even try we might grow suspicious that we’ve been had.
So, another question: In what way, precisely, are things different now than they would have been had we returned a GOP majority to the Capitol last year?
You might argue that there are plenty of Democratic senators and reps working diligently to counter Dubya & The Dick, but they’re being undercut by significant numbers of Bush Dogs and DINOs. Right – my point exactly. Remember, my thesis isn’t that there aren’t individuals in DC who oppose the current regime, it’s that there’s no opposition party. The Democratic takeover of Congress merely highlights the deep divide within the party and the important ways those divisions work against the nation’s interests.
Even if you’re one of the eight people in America who are happy with Bush, the GOP and how things are going generally, you should be instinctively nervous about the fact that our system fails to guarantee meaningful opposition, because that doesn’t bode well for you down the road. (How are you going to feel in eight years when President Hillary Clinton is seven years into perfecting the template that Bush established?)
What goes around comes around, and democracy isn’t well-served by a government of rich power elites who can’t seem to find much to disagree on. And if they disagree in words, but not in votes, then you’re a fool to believe they really disagree at all.
We’d all do well to think more about what is done than what is said. Otherwise we’re little more than Republicrat bitches.