Editor: Douglas Drenkow

V A L U E S   &   I S S U E S


Legal Notices

Links of Interest

DEMOCRACY: Government & Politics | May 25, 2005 & June 8, 2005


An E-Mail to Democratic Activists &

A Posting in "Comments from Left Field"

Facing the "nuclear option", both sides blinked.

Bush got three more judges who shouldn't be approved, approved; and four or five more will soon follow. Sure, two other judges now, and two or three others soon, who shouldn't be approved apparently won't be approved; but that hardly qualifies as any sort of "advance" for progressive causes, let alone a "victory" for Democrats -- particularly given the circumstances under which these concessions have been exacted: The threat by the GOP to cheat on the rules -- having Cheney, as President of the Senate, rule incorrectly on a Point of Order that to change the rule on filibuster, as any rule of the Senate, would not require a two-thirds vote of the Senate -- amounts to extortion. Negotiating with a blackmailer is not only nothing to brag about but is also an invitation to endless extortion in the future.

The "deal" just concluded by a handful of Senators on their own effectively commits in writing the Democratic Party as a whole to voluntarily give up the filibuster -- the one and only real lever of federal power we have remaining -- except under the most "extraordinary circumstances".

I don't seem to remember that phrase in the Constitution: The Senate shall give blanket approval to all Presidential appointees, except under the most extraordinary circumstances.

In Korea and Vietnam, the Congress effectively gave to the President its Constitutional powers to declare war; now it effectively gives up its check on Executive power over the Judicial branch.

And we Democrats are supposed to savor this "victory" because the Far Right is throwing a tantrum over not having gotten every single thing that it wanted.

I heard a Redneck comedian on the radio the other day making fun of a Left Wing couple's kid throwing a tantrum; he joked how he would've gotten his butt whipped by his daddy if he would've acted up like that. He respected his daddy for that, and he -- and his audience -- disrespected the other folks for letting their brat get so out of control. We Democrats had better not expect to earn any respect -- let alone regain any meaningful political power -- if we continue to give ground: If we hadn't already noticed, we've got no more ground to give!

It is one thing for your political opponent to take unfair advantage on its own -- in full view of the American public, a majority of whom were decidedly opposed to just such action (the elimination of the filibuster) -- it is quite another thing for you to emasculate yourself -- likewise in full view of the American public, a majority of whom are undoubtedly even more convinced than ever that the Democratic Party cannot be entrusted with the security of our nation ("Heck, just like when Kerry was attacked by the Swift Boat Veterans and didn't fight back, the Democrats can't even defend themselves; how are they going to protect the whole country?" the conventional wisdom goes).

Of course, the filibuster "deal" pleads with the President to be more considerate and merciful in future judicial nominations. On exactly what evidence or precedent is that notion based? ("The Democrats are way too naive for their own good, let alone ours," the conservatives and independents continue.)

Bush is expected to consult more with the Senate, presumably out of respect for its members -- the vast majority of whom were not consulted about this "deal," binding upon them all.

And lest we think this de facto coup by probably for the most part well-meaning "centrist" Senators -- led by now Presidential front-runner John McCain (Name one Democrat who could beat him now. And don't mention Hillary, even if she were going to run) -- will be limited to this issue at hand: "Some who forged the deal expressed hope that the agreement would create momentum for compromise on other knotty issues, such as Social Security..."

Yes, let's "open the door" on privatization "just a little bit" -- what's the harm in that? My God, are we actually complete "relativists", as everyone on the Right from the Pope to the Shrub keeps harping? Do we have absolutely NO principles left? Is everything on the bargaining table? Are we going to just try to keep cutting our losses and never try to take a stand on anything? How the hell are we ever supposed to regain any power? It all depends on support from the public -- not the Senate, not the President, not the Chief Justice, but John and Jane Q. Public -- and that all begins and ends with R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I thought that after one electoral DISASTER after another -- particularly after having made accommodation after accommodation to the GOP on taxes, Iraq, etc. etc. -- and after having made Howard Dean our Party leader that we were finally going to show some backbone and stand up for what we believe in, come what may. We may lose some battles that way; but in the end, we will gain respect and regain our rightful share of political power.

As President Clinton demonstrated time and again, compromise can be a virtue in politics; neither side rarely ever gets all it wants. The policies of Mr. Bush are in large measure abhorrent precisely because they are almost uniformily polarizing and belligerent: It is he -- the President, who sets the tone of the national and much of the international debate -- whom history will condemn in no uncertain terms for most of the disharmony and aggression in the country and around the world in this most dangerous time.

However, that does not mean that giving in to blackmail in order to minimize injury in the short term is in any way shape or form a "victory" or is anything but an invitation to extortion ad nauseum, ultimately ending in disaster.

As Faust, Neville Chamberlain, and Anakin Skywalker found out the hard way, making a deal with the devil will cost you your soul.

A Follow-Up to Democratic Activists

I appreciate your call to action. But the deal was made, by the Senators you ask us to call. I understand fully the rationale behind the deal, and I do respect the Democrats who made it. But I hated it, particularly for its long-term consequences; regardless, the bottom line is that it's been done.

And now more jaded than ever, I fully expect another "moderate" deal will be struck when Justice Brown is perhaps inevitably nominated for the US Supreme Court, from that "springboard" Court of Appeals.

We had ONLY the filibuster to work with (other than the power of persuasion in the press, in which Sen. Reid and Rep. Pelosi and Chairman Dean have been doing truly yeoman service); now the filibuster has been effectively traded away -- except under the most "extraordinary circumstances" (which I would've thought any true Democrat would've considered applicable to any of these horrendous nominations) -- in the face of the GOP threatening to break the rules (with Cheney incorrectly trumping the Parliamentarian) in the Senate.

The bully has threatened to steal our lunch money and we gave him three-fifths of it. No wonder a big majority of Americans think we Democrats are too wimpy to defend the country: Al Qaeda is worse than the GOP, of course. What would we do in the face of a threat? Give Bin Laden 30 of the 50 states? That's not what I believe, but it's now tougher than ever to convince anyone else that we have backbone.

Return to Archive of DEMOCRACY: Government & Politics


Home | Editor | Values & Issues | Feedback | Legal | Links