2006 is looking to be a watershed year. The year when Democrats once again reemerge on the political stage, not as the red-headed step child to be soundly batted on the ear -- but as a serious force in our national government. Or will they?
From Today's Washington Post.
Some veterans of the 1994 GOP takeover of Congress see worrisome parallels between then and now, in the way once-safe districts are turning into potential problems. Incumbents' poll numbers have softened. Margins against their Democratic opponents have narrowed. Republican voters appear disenchanted. The Bush effect now amounts to a drag of five percentage points or more in many districts.
The changes don't guarantee a Democratic takeover by any means, but they are creating an increasingly asymmetrical battlefield for the fall elections: The number of vulnerable Democratic districts has remained relatively constant while the number of potentially competitive Republican districts continues to climb.
Despite the somewhat rosey projections of the WaPo, Democrats have no reason get get cocky, according to thereisnospoon they have completely failed to take a stand.
Some Democratic leaders have been bold (Conyers, Feingold, Boxer, Jackson-Lee and occasionally Kerry), others of the squishy DLC bent are far more cautious - akwardly straddling the middle -(Clinton), while a small minoritity have been little more than Republican-Lite (Leiberman).
But unlike the Lock-step manuever Republicans have perfected since the Attack of the Rowdy Gingrichites in '94, moving the Democratic Caucus in a single direction has frequently been like herding cats. Republicans are precise and clear on what they want. Lower Taxes. A Strong Military (In spending if not in actual practice). More Abortion Restrictions (But little effort for Pre-natal, Foster care or Adoption). Lower Taxes. More Acknowledgement of Faith in the public sphere. Fewer Gay Rights (If not fewer Gays, period). English First (And Only). Fewer illegals workers (but nice low prices for fruit and textiles products). Bigger Business. (Lower wages) Bigger Jails. More Oil (Less Breathable Air). Did I mention Taxes?
Even on sites such as this or DU, finding consensus on specific policy initiatives is not always easy.
Democratic thought is not monolithic, so when the question comes "What do Democrats want..." they invariably fumble it. When John Stewart asked Howard Dean this very question he showed him a door-hanger. A DOOR-HANGER (for voluanteers to leave behind as they canvas the neighborhood) with a list of the (Secret) Democratic Agenda. Which, in case you're wondering, can be found here at http://www.democrats.org/...
It contains six bullet points.
- Honest Leadership and Open Government We will end the Republican culture of curruptions and restore a government as good as the people it serves
Real Security We will protect Americans at home and lead the world by telling the truth to our troops, our citizens and our allies
Energy Independance We Will create a cleaner stronger America by reducing our dependance on foreign oil.
Economic Prosperity and Educational Excellence We will create jobs that will stay in America by restoring oppurtunity and driving innovation.
A Health Care System that works for Everyone We will join 36 other industrialized nations by making sure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare.
Retirement Security We will ensure that a retirement with dignity is the right and expectation of every single American.
Not exactly earth shattering stuff.
If you ask the RNC, they seem to know exactly what the Dems want -- to "Impeach George Bush and raise your taxes". Here's Brit Hume of Faux Gnus on the Dems taking Control.
Michigan Congressman John Conyers, who would head up the House Judiciary Committee should the Democrats retake the house, has already held a mock hearing on impeaching President Bush.
This "blistering" attack has already forced Conyers to back-peddle in the WaPo.
As Republicans have become increasingly nervous about whether they will be able to maintain control of the House in the midterm elections, they have resorted to the straw-man strategy of identifying a parade of horrors to come if Democrats gain the majority. Among these is the assertion that I, as the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush.
I will not do that.
Instead, Conyers promises to setup a bipartisan commission to study and investigate the various failures of the Administration. Again, not exactly earth shattering.
I think we as a nation have a right to expect more. Much more.
Should George W. Bush and Dick Cheney be impeached for gross malfeasance before, during and after 9-11, the Iraq War, the CIA Leak Scandal, Extra-odinary Rendition, Secret Prisons, Indefinate Detention, Torture, Hurricane Katrina, the growing NSA espionage scandal and pissing on 750 laws?
If you ask that question to most Democrats (not on Capital hill, actual Rank and File Democrats) the answer would be a resounding "HELL YES!"
Still, I think Conyers approach to this may be dead on target. If Democrats come screaming into Congress with pay-back for the last 6 years on their mind - they are destined to fail.
I'm not saying that they might not successfully Impeach and possibly even Remove President Bush from office -- I'm saying that if they do this without first successfully making the case to all the American people, Democrat and Republican alike, that this Administration and the Republican Caucas have become a veritable Criminal Enterprise intent on amassing power while raiding our treasury, and exploiting the blood and spirit of our military in the process - the entire effort will ultimately be for naught.
THIS. ADMINISTRATION. MUST. BE. STOPPED.
But we don't need to stage a partisan witch-hunt (ala the Starr/Clinton fiasco).
They must be stopped not because of what they've already done, they must be stopped because of the danger the precedent they've set. The checks and balances of our government must be repaired and restored simply because future administrations (Yes, possibly even Democratic ones) weilding the kind of power that Bush has claimed could destroy the very fabric of our nation.
The Unitary Executive Theory must be permenently quashed as a demented Constitutional aberration that dangerously tips the balance of power completely out of whack.
We are supposed to be a nation of laws, a nation of ideals which our bounded by the articles and amendments of our Constitution. Bush has turned our laws inside out and wiped his ass with the Constitution while this Republican Congress aided and abetted him. Genuflecting at his every abuse.
Ask any Republican friend of yours, if you still have any - would they "Want President Hillary Clinton or President Al Gore to have the kind of power that Bush is nowing claiming with the NSA and 750 signing statements directly contradicing Federal Law?"
If they answer the question honestly, I think they just might surprise even themselves. It's a defining question that goes beyond party affiliation, Red or Blue State, Left-Coast or Fly Over. The answer will determine exactly what kind of nation the United States will be for the next several generations.
If Democrats take over Congress - they've have to put this question to the nation. They'll have to create a Re-defining moment where the country makes a decision about where we are going to go from here -- are we going to continue to excuse and cover-up incompetence and malfeasance by the executive simply because he is the "Commander-in-Chief" and must be honored in a time (endless) of war? Or are we going to insist on something greater, something more noble - that our leaders actually be worthy of their role and duties, and that if they fail they are held accountable in order to protect the nation and the world from the chaos created by their incompetence and mendacity?
I think we can ask, no - demend, for nothing less. Our duty as citizens requires it.
That Re-defining Moment is not yet upon us. Democrats do not need to declare yet whether they are pro or against impeachment and removal - only that they support "Accountability" and restoring our Constitutional checks and balances.
But it's coming - and soon.