Besides Exploiting Bush Woes,
Where Do the Democrats Stand?
By Edward Shanahan
Thoughts on the eve of an election.
With polls showing that more than half of American believe the war in Iraq is a mistake why is there not a more visible anti-war movement building in this country?
I recall a solemn visit to the front lawn of St. Mary’s Church two Novembers ago and walking through the display of 900 pairs of boots, representing the number of military U.S. military killed in Iraq. There were also statistics about the tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens who had died.
Today the number of US fatalities is nearing 3,000, with thousands more young men and women permanently maimed or crippled. The number of Iraqi dead and injured is beyond measure.
Where is the anger, the outrage, and the public Vietnam-era demonstrations against our government and its leaders?
Where is the Democratic Party? What is its plan for terminating our role in a civil war, bringing home the troops and ending the monumental loss of life and treasure in this arrogantly misguided enterprise?
It is not enough to bask in the travails of President Bush and missteps of the Republicans. Pinning your political future on the mistakes and errors of the ruling party is not a political program or a principled platform.
It is not enough to round up conservative politicians to run as Democrats, as is now happening in many states, in a cynical attempt to exploit anger directed at conservative Republicans and replace them with right-wing Democrats. These so-called Democrats are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, anti-immigration, anti-gun control, pro-business, anti-regulation, and against government health-care efforts. These new Democrats are, in fact, Republicans in Democratic disguise. They are Republican Trojan Horses. Beware.
Or perhaps the two parties are more alike than different, and have been since Bill Clinton dragged the party to the right in 1992 and still further right in 1996 in order to get himself elected.
Whatever the explanation, Democrats, poised on the cusp of once again playing a role in government, do not have a clue of what they might do if they were returned to greater control of Congress.
Besides having no party policy or strategy about the Iraq quagmire, the Democrats have been missing in action on a host of issues, at least based on the national debate of such non-central issues as Mark Foley, stem-cell research, gay marriage in the run-up to the election.
Let’s tote them up.
Does the Democratic Party have a plan for reducing the federal deficit and what kind of major spending cuts, especially those aimed at special interests (oil companies, defense manufacturers) will they seek?
What do the Democrats plan for trade policies (NAFTA) that send jobs out of the country and encourage imports that balloon the trade deficit and erode the nation’s financial security?
Are the Democrats truly committed to raising the minimum wage after a nine-year hiatus? Where have they been for the last nine years?
Do Democrats understand there is a health-care crisis that undermines the financial well-being not only of every American family but every large employer struggling with mounting insurance costs? It was a dozen years ago the Clinton administration made a glancing pass at universal health care, quickly lost the battle, and the Democrats threw in the towel.
Are the Democrats relieved that the national immigration debate ended almost as quickly as it erupted a year ago and are they prepared to accept a long, expensive, and useless fence as the final answer?
Have the Democrats given serious thought to the twin evils to our Republic of the influence of well-financed corporate lobbyists and the corresponding rise of unregulated corporate greed at the highest levels of our free enterpise system?
Do Democrats not believe there is a role for government in regulating and monitoring the activities of those corporations (drug companies, utilities) who would cheat and rob and steal from the public, not only by picking its pocket, but its natural resources, its environment, its rights and freedom?
Hardly any of these issues are new – only emerging in new forms – and yet the Democratic Party, which had a admirable tradition of seeing government as a help, not a hindrance, seems unable to understand even the most basic aspects of what is required for self government.
The self-immolation of George Bush and his party, if it happens, does not necessarily mean the future will be any brighter, absent Democratic Party convictions, courage and confidence.
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