Decisions made in anger can often get you into a great deal of trouble. This is as true in politics as it is when you decide to take a swing at the ex-convict bouncer who tells you you've had one too many at your local bar. It seems so right at the time you do it, but you wake up the next morning in an alley with your wallet missing, your pants down around your ankles, blood in your urine, and you're walking kind of funny.
Today it's just dawning on America that we're like that angry drunk who has to live with the consequences of his actions the next day. We turned on the Republicans in power – and I admit to making some vengeance votes of my own – and now we have to live with the results for at least the next two years. Results most of us probably didn't even think about in our eagerness to punish the GOP for whichever of their failures irritated us the most, be it the lack of social security reform, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act or their hollow lip service on gay marriage and abortion.
When we voted we didn't think about anything but teaching the Republicans a lesson. Those of us who thought about it at all figured that we'd be okay if one house of Congress passed to the Democrats because it would probably just lead to gridlock and the government would do nothing for two years and we'd cruise along and everything would be okay. We didn't consider that the Democrats might take both houses, and we certainly didn't think about a relatively obscure issue like which specific Democrats were in positions where they would suddenly have a great deal of power after the election.
You see, it's not the idealistic and promising young Democrat challengers who got voted into office this week who are going to wield any real power in Congress, it's the creepy old dinosaurs of the party who have seniority and are in position to become the chairmen of the key committees which determine the course of government. They've been working for years to position themselves where they can have the most power and do the most damage. These guys have old scores to settle, they have unsavory connections and deeply ingrained corruption as bad as any Republican, and quite a few of them subscribe to extreme and dangerous views which their party tries to hide behind a facade of liberalism. These are the monsters of profligate spending and bureaucratic statism who we voted the GOP in to suppress in 1994, and in their years in the minority they've become crazy and embittered and spiteful, and now we've handed them the keys to power.
In partcicular, four of the most powerful positions in the House of Representatives are going into the hands of four of the most partisan and socialistic.
First we have Charles Rangel (D-NY) the incoming Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means committee, which originates legislation on taxes, social security, and other aspects of the budget. Rangel has voted for every tax increase which has been proposed since he took office and he is on record as saying that he "cannot think of one" of President Bush's tax cuts he would consider preserving. He's also stated total opposition to privatization of Social Security, saying "If they want to get that on the agenda, they better take privatization off the table." So, Rangel alone has the power to reverse the one really successful program of the Bush administration, and permanently obstruct one of the most promising and creative ideas the administration has had to offer.
Like many of the rising Democrat leaders, Rangel is a member of the Progressive Caucus which represents the agenda of the Democratic Socialist Alliance in Congress. The DSA is part of the Socialist International and advocates policies which include redistribution of property, nationalization of business, "massive redistribution of income", unilateral disarmament, the surrender of US legal sovereignty to the United Nations and massive expansion of a comprehensive welfare state. This is not the benign, grassroots socialism of organic farmer cooperatives and workers collectives. Socialism from the bottom up isn't such a bad thing. What these legislators support and can implement is socialism from the top down, imposed with the force of the state, and it is inherently incompatible with the basic principles of individual liberty which are the basis of our society and nation. It is the oppressive socialism which has destroyed nation after nation and always ends in oppressive dictatorship.
Rangel fully embraces the DSA agenda and has been outspoken in his defense of basic principles of socialism and international socialists, including commenting favorably on Fidel Castro and complaining about US legislators "that refuse to give the [Cuban] government the respect that it deserves." Rangel is also notorious for his politicization of race and penchant for calling anyone he doesn't agree with a racist, including the entire Republican party. He's also spoken out in defense of terrorists like Hezbollah and made the bizarre claim that Social Security reform would assign benefits based on race to exclude African Americans. He was also the sponsor of a hypocritical bill to institute a national draft despite the fact that he opposes the War in Iraq.
Another frightening prospect is that Representative David Obey (D-WI) will be Chairman of the Appropriations Committee. Obey is one of the biggest budget busters in Congress, rated at a remarkably low 28% by the National Taxpayers Union. He's one of the few people to vote against every single tax cut proposed while he's been in office, including eliminating the 'marriage penalty' and reducing the Alternative Minimum Tax (which many Democrats favor doing).
I actually have a soft spot for Obey because he's rabidly pro-gun, but the one thing he likes more than guns is massive pork spending in his home district which received $37 million in funds for completely unnecessary government funded programs in 2005 alone according to Citizens Against Government Waste. He's bought and paid for by the milk industry and the International Dairy Foods Association, one of the most powerful and notoriuously greedy agricultural lobbies. He makes the notorious Ted Stevens (R-AK) look like an amateur porkmeister. Putting Obey in charge of the committee that oversees the budget is absolutely terrifying. It's like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.
If you want to find socialists in Congress you need look no farther than the Judiciary Committee where a good third of the Democrats are international socialists and members of the Progressive Caucus discussed earlier. The the new chairman of the committee is going to be Representative John Conyers (D-MI). Conyers is known for his fondness for conspiracy theories, particularly about 9/11 and the 2004 election. Conyers is also notable for his questionable associations. He's been involved with socialist front-group MoveOn.org as well as the radical North Korean backed Marxist group International A.N.S.W.E.R. and in 2005 he spoke at an event sponsored by Lyndon LaRouche, giving rise to accusations that he shared LaRouche's anti-Semitic beliefs. Conyers has also supported reparations for slavery, hate-crime legislation, and instituting a national military draft, expressed support for Communist Cuba and opposed US support for Israel. Conyers represents the most heavily Muslim district in the nation and as a result has taken a very soft stand on terrorism.
Conyers' biggest claim to fame is his ongoing campaign to promote the idea of impeaching President Bush. He's held a conference to promote the idea of impeachment and introduced a measure to censure the president as a first step towards impeachment last spring. As Chairman of the Judiciary Committee Conyers would have direct control over the framing of articles of impeachment and their approval for submission to Congress. Despite Nancy Pelosi's recent comments that impeachment would not be on the agenda for the new Congress, up until very recently Conyers' website still announced: "Join me to demand the creation of a Special Committee to investigate administration abuses of power and make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment if warranted."
Now that the Democrats have the House we may have to bring back the old title "Witchfinder General" and give it to Conyers because he will be presiding over the witch hunts for the next two years.
Finally, at the very top of the pyramid of power is Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who will be Speaker of the House. Despite her time as Minority Leader, Pelosi has been less outspoken and visible than some of her colleagues, but she is also a member of the Progressive Caucus. In fact, she served on its executive committee for a number of years. Like Conyers and Rangel, Pelosi has consistently voted to oppose tax cuts and raise taxes whenever possible. Pelosi is a classic example of a 'limousine liberal' on the Kennedy model. She comes from a family background of privelege and politics. Her father was Mayor of Baltimore and a Congressman from Maryland. Her husband is a multimillionaire real estate investor from San Francisco.
Pelosi may personally be the least dangerous of the group, but she's a socialist true believer and no supporter of tax fairness, constitutional rights or free enterprise. Like a lot of the leftist elite she would like to redistribute wealth, knowing that she can afford it. The problem is that those of us in the middle class don't have the same kind of extra income lying around. With her in charge there won't be much real opposition to the efforts of her comrades like Rangel and Conyers. She'll just talk nice and run interference while they do the dirty work.
With this cabal in power in the House we can expect to see almost immediate movement to reverse the Bush tax cuts, a rapid pullout in Iraq leading to full-scale civil war, a middle east policy hostile to Israel and appeasing to terrorists, massive increases in spending on social programs and local pork projects, an attempt to create an expensive and inefficient national healthcare system and interminable, pointless hearings and investigations into the past activities of the Bush administration. I'm not sure who the good guys are – if there are any. But there's no question that on Tuesday we voted to give the bad guys more power.
The great irony of this situation is that the only person who can offer us hope now is the one man who embodies all the dissatisfaction we had going into this election. Our entire future rests in the hands of the man who even Republicans have thought of as spineless, weak and needlessly devious, because only George W. Bush – who has never vetoed a single bill – has the power through that veto to stop the disaster which is coming our way. Failing that we have to hope some votes change sides on key issues, or that the Democrats hold off in a false show of bipartisanship aimed at winning the White House in 2008. Of course, if they do get the White House then the worst case scenario I present here will seem mild and optimistic.
When they've had two years to do their worst, and you're looking around at the ruins of your life, and Bush didn't stand up to stop them, remember that we have only ourselves to blame.