Monday, November 13, 2006

Where do we go from here?

Stopping the Republican onslaught against humanity and Democracy was the goal of this election, and we succeeded beyond most sane predictions. So what do we do with our newfound and unexpected control of the entirety of Congress? One of the many problems the Democratic Party has faced over the last 25 years or so has been their notoriously free and open debates on what kinds of policies they should pursue. This healthy political self-criticism has been used by the right-wing as one of their strongest arguments that Democrats don't stand for anything. The truth is, they've been right, but the actuality is that this isn't a weakness--it's just that if Democrats didn't have internal debates about policy, there wouldn't be any anywhere else. Since 1994, at the very least, the Republican Party has been in the business of stifling debate and purging dissenters, both within their ranks and, since 1994, in the country as a whole. Hard core ideologues have run the Party into the ground (finally); it took the failure of our occupation of Iraq and the very real threat of nuclear disaster (along with global warming and a host of other issues the Republicans are completely unable and unwilling to handle) to awaken our populace out of its right wing controlled media induced coma.
So for a few years, at least, the Democrats must speak as one; the Republicans have succeeded in confusing the public into thinking debate/ideological flexibility = weakness for a political entity. Until we can prove (yet again) to that public that only those who believe in the power of government should govern in a democracy, internal debates will have to occur behind closed doors, even if that process itself is anti-democratic. Publicly announcing a concise (and easily understood) legislative agenda and then passing each individual item on that agenda (whether vetoed or not), with the support/compliance of all Democrats in Congress, instead of arguing the merits of every single point of every single bill (which is what Congress should be doing), is necessary to show a doubting public that we do indeed know what we're doing and most importantly, how to do it.
What should be on that agenda? I think the most important initial moves the Democrats must make are restorative, since if any mandate exists from the results of the election, it exists to reject Republicanism. So let's listen to the populace for now: 1) restore the progressive taxation policies that have been the hallmark of all of this century's economic booms; 2) restore the public's faith in the voting system by pushing for verifiable, non-partisan, and honest balloting; restore the public's faith in campaigns in general by passing a campaign reform bill with teeth; 3) restore the world's faith in the US by getting us the hell out of the Middle East; 4) restore the public's (presently misguided) sense of faith in the media by overturning decades of abusive deregulation laws and the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, thereby reinstating the Fourth Estate to its proper place as objective watchdog; and 5) restore the public's faith in government itself by once more reasserting the Constitutional independence of the legislative branch, making actual oversight (and its investigatory corollary) of the other two branches a major mission of Congress once again.
If we do these things, and even more importantly, publicize the fact that we are doing them in order to restore truly American values to our government, we can derail any right-wing fantasies that Democrats are out of touch liberals with no vision. All of these policies sit nicely within a vision of a fairer government and electorate, and once we convince the public that this is all that the Democrats have ever wanted, the shrill voices of nutjobs on the right will fade away into the vast nothingness from whence they derive their ideas. Once we reduce/eliminate the fear our public feels of its own government we can then more easily persuade the populace that debate over other policies is a good thing, since it is through discussion and compromise that we have achieved most of the great things we have ever done. (And the rest have all come about because of progressive legislation passed in the teeth of intransigent opposition to the benefit of all--the ending of slavery, the passing of anti-trust/monopoly laws, the creation of Social Security, the Voting Rights Act, etc. Once the public trusts Democrats to do the right thing again, we can then begin to pass laws that broaden our rights or allow us to rejoin the family of nations--elimination of anti-gay legislation, creation or restoration of federally funded education and health care, adherence to international laws and compacts like Geneva and Kyoto, federal funding of stem cell research, federal funding to wean us off oil, etc.--without the threat of being misunderstood as serving special interests (an old guard Republican strawman) or being the only party of wasteful bureaucrats (a Reagan-era accusation that has been employed ever since).
Seems so straightforward, doesn't it?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Say it with me...

11:56 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home