The AWOL Opposition
I know it would rattle the beautiful minds of the lunatic middle to see legislators stand in meaningful opposition, rather than stand shoulder-to-shoulder, Lieberman-like, with "their president." I know it's unlikely, given the rise to gutless and compromised leadership by the likes of Tom Vilsack and Harry Reid. But damn, is it ever needed. Because along with "liberal" and "Massachusetts," here's another word Democrats have failed to redeem: "partisan."
Thanks to the electronic drumbeat of the GOP meme machine, "partisanship" has come to mean "playing politics," when actually the opposite is true. A partisan stands for something. A partisan fights. A partisan has a cause. Those playing politics are found in the mewling, puking DLC faction, who furrow their brows to find a "third way" of compromise; to make accomodation; to "moderate" the Bush agenda to make it easier to swallow. (Tom Daschle just gave his farewell speech to the Congress, pleading for "common ground," and only two Republicans cared to be present. That's how much they respect Democratic leaders and their self-abasing compromises.)
To work with Bush now, rather than against him, is to be a camp volunteer, reassuring doomed souls and keeping the queue moving as they walk to the showers. I know that sounds extreme, but the world is in extremis, and the world we knew and still hope for may not survive four more years.
Much of the Democratic leadership either still cannot acknowledge the radical villainy of the Bush gang, or they are fifth columnists who have done an admirable job demoralizing their own base, and destroying the prospects of any meaningful alternative to the GOP.
Where is the opposition party?
James DiEugenio, in the Afterword to Probe Magazine's essential anthology, The Assassinations, helps us understand what became of the Democrats:
Imagine, if you can, that if in the mid-1980s, at the height of the GOP Revolution, Ronald Reagan, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich, and George Bush Sr, had all been assassinated in the space of five years. Would the Republicans and the media not suspect something more than coincidence or happenstance? Would their party and their causes be able to sustain the loss? Would Dan Quayle and Bob Dole have been able to pick up the baton? Would history not have been quite different? Certainly, the Democrats were not able to sustain the loss. Nothing comparable filled the gap, nothing even came close. So the consellation fell from the sky and without any pressure from the left, our public debate shited slowly, inexorably to the right.
Today's Democratic Party is what comes of the right's culling it of leaders who threatened to make a different America. The process continues (see Paul Wellstone) and it doesn't always end in death. Sometimes, character assassination is the preferred means (see Howard Dean).
Nothing less than a crime spree has been waged against the party for 40 years, and still the victim insists on reaching out to its assassin.
Pathetic, bizarre and tragic. And to be expected.