If you’re a liberal, what better week could you be having than one in which Tom DeLay is indicted twice more and George Bush picks a Supreme Court nominee who is driving the conservative spewing heads into an apoplectic fit? And it’s only Tuesday!
From the outside, for the hopeful, it certainly seems that the Republican machine is starting to grind to a halt. Certainly this hasn’t been a great two months for Bush and company – but I want to caution against the thought that the recent trouble will have any lasting impact in and of itself. The attention span of the American public is short, the attention span of the media shorter (unless blue dresses or blowjobs are involved).
We liberals can’t spend the time with petty, short-sighted celebration. Instead, we need to seize upon this opportunity to show the public the clear and remarkable differences between our party, and the bait and switch party that is in power.
I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t allow ourselves a smile for Tom DeLay’s troubles. A guy who has made a career on political retribution and ethical tight roping is ripe for a little payback. To listen to his loud, blustering denials almost makes for comedy. However, instead of gloating we need to remember two things – one, this is just an indictment (well THREE indictments), not a conviction. Tom Delay is entitled to his day in court. Even though I do not place much faith these days in the court system when trying the rich and powerful, this is still America, there is still a Constitution, and the trial must proceed. If we really are about civil rights, then we need to protect Mr. Delay’s right to a swift and speedy trial (and yeah OK hopefully conviction because the guy really represents the WORST in American politics).
What we can’t afford to do is create petty controversies that quickly make us look like, well, petty people. I think the tempest in a teapot indignation over Bill Bennett’s “abort all black babies” comment is self-destructive. I don’t like Bill Bennet, as you can well imagine. I think the guy says enough stupid stuff to destroy him on the basis of his arguments day in and day out. What I don’t like though is the lefty commentators taking what Bennet said completely out of context, playing partial clips that do not put the clip in context or finish Mr. Bennet’s thought.
Did he say that if all black babies were aborted, the crime rate would drop? Yes, in the context that there are always crazy extreme solutions to a problem. Did Mr. Bennet advocate the abortion of all black babies like it is made out? No. I’ve heard the clips several times and in fact, Mr. Bennet is actually arguing the contrary – that the thought of such is morally reprehensible and that the ends do not justify the means. Anyone on the fence about American politics and not a rabid knee-jerk partisan will be more turned off by our misrepresenting Mr. Bennet than his argument in the first place. We protect Free Speech in this party these days correct? We’re supposed to be the party of critical thought, correct? Then save our ammo for real issues.
Make no mistake, real issues abound. We have done a good job stalling many of the bad ideas that have come from this White House, and admirable job considering the balance of power is so out, but we will not win the hearts and minds of the public by being the party of no. No one votes for “no.” We need to start setting out concrete plans on every important issue out there. We need to craft workable, sensible legislation that reflects our party’s values. By WE I don’t just mean the Democratic Party, the party is not our savior, but rather one tool in the progressive arsenal.
I challenged people a month or two back to do more than vote and bitch. I challenged you to go to a party meeting, sign up for a campaign, do something, ANYTHING to get involved. How many of you did? How many of you hate the way the country is being run yet are more content to watch Desperate Housewives than to help desperate people? For Open Source politics to work, you have to be willing to take control over the political process.
Conservatives realized that 30 years ago. We have the opportunity to do the same now. Are we the group of “Just say No”? Are we the party of petty sniping and phony outrage? The country already has one of those parties. Right now, what we need is leadership. Right now, we need ideas. Right now, WE need you.
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