Tuesday :: Jun 24, 2003

Rolling Back the Tide

by dj moonbat

Posted by Matt Davis

Understandably, a lot of us place tremendous importance on winning the next presidential election. This gang of thugs must not remain in the White House for a day longer than necessary. I really think that the damage to America's standing in the world, and to our own standard of living, may be irretrievable if we allow four more years. It will be an ugly battle, and one that will doubtless cause us to marvel at the fact that most people don't really seem to understand the stakes. But we must win, so we shall.

A string of comments in response to the Left Coaster post entitled "Do the NeoCons Have an Endgame in Mind?" got me thinking, though: Even when we do win, how many of the monumentally ill-advised policies of the current administration are we actually going to be able to reverse?

Tax Cuts

Obviously, the executive branch can't simply reverse direction on the recent tax cuts without help from the Congress. Kerry, Dean, and Edwards have all put forth plans to modify or halt portions of the Bush tax giveaway. But will they be able to get the votes on any bill that gets the job done?

I think it unlikely that the Dems will take over either house of Congress. If there is a shattering White House scandal, or the war turns really ugly, or both; and if the congressional committee Republicans don't seem terribly interested in finding out what happened, then we might see sufficient public disgust to get one of them back. Both houses seems too much to hope for.

Here again, the degree to which the public has lost faith in the Bush administration will play a role. If the American electorate has the idea that Team Bush was running wild, playing fast and loose with the truth, congressional Democrats will have a much easier time pressuring colleagues across the aisle to return to fiscal sanity; if, however, the anti-Robin Hood nature of the administration doesn't really sink in, GOP congressmen will fall back on cries of 'class warfare' rather than reverse these astonishingly damaging cuts.

I'm not overstating the issue, I think, to say that the Democratic presidential candidate absolutely must get people to realize the fundamental inequity and unsoundness of Bush's fiscal policies--not only to win the election, but because unless these policies are discredited, we will never get the congressional votes we will need to undo them. Even if a candidate could get elected without confronting the plutocracy question, he/she would still need to raise the issue in order to muster the votes for budget approval, so we might as well get it out there now and repeat it every time the media give us the chance. John Edwards has given the other candidates a tremendous gift: a template for how to attack the administration for coddling rich criminals while avoiding a traditional populism that simply seeks to soak the wealthy.

Iraq/Middle East

Here's the issue where we're really stuck. The NeoCons have gotten us into a situation where a quick exit is nearly impossible unless we are willing to concede a second Islamist state in the Middle East. If we pull out now, only a tyranny of the majority or a civil war seem like possible outcomes. As much as, say, Dean opposed the war, if he's elected, he has to stay the course for at least the short term. We can only hope that the quagmire isn't too deep by that time.

Also, our Middle East problem isn't going anywhere until we get serious about Israel's clearly illegal occupation. The double standard that protects Israel from all norms of international law simply cannot stand without the U.S. rightfully earning the enmity of Arab Muslims. I highly doubt that any--I repeat, any--of the Democratic challengers has the courage to do what needs to be done. This is one that simply cannot be laid at the feet of the GOP alone.

Civil Liberties

John Ashcroft has already done more damage to the Bill of Rights than I thought I would ever see in this country, and Congress signed off on Patriot Act I with hardly a peep. Here, though, we find common cause with the more libertarian elements of the GOP. Even wingnuts like Bob Barr are saying that the Bush administration has gone too far. Certainly, the further excesses in Patriot II will be relatively easy to curb; not many congresspeople will stand firm to vote for a Justice Department's right to strip people of their citizenship. And there's enough bipartisan suspicion toward many of Patriot I's provisions that if it's extended, it won't be terribly politically damaging to make some changes.

What about Gitmo, though? Can a President just turn loose these people whom we have unlawfully detained with our apologies? Yes, but it's not damned likely.

What about Padilla, and Hamzi, and the most recent 'unlawful combatant,' Ali Saleh Kahlah Al Marri? Only a Justice Department and Pentagon run amok could have invented the rules that allowed the government to whisk these men to military brigs without any recourse; but now that they're in this legal limbo, what will the new President do?

People are still scared enough in the post-9/11 world that some of these changes--though they would clearly be the legal/moral thing to do--will be so politically charged that the new President won't touch them. Here, the biggest challenge may be to do the right thing, even knowing that it may be dangerous.


I don't even have the heart to go into the environmental issues or the government secrecy (Cheney meetings) issues that go with them. Or the whole 'sliding into theocracy' problem, which thankfully is more a question of the bully pulpit than anything else (although these faith-based initiatives seem to be getting a little out of hand). It's really too depressing, and time is in short supply. But as we can clearly see, there's a lot of work ahead for any Dem challenger. Some of the necessary work is already underway. Some of it, because of the way American politics works, will never get underway. But the Democratic Party needs to work on the other stuff--plans for how to roll back the insanity, and how to make it stick.

dj moonbat :: 2:05 PM :: Comments (11) :: Digg It!