A Victorious War Starts With The Gore Speech
In the aftermath of my disappointment at how feeble and inept the Democrats’ preparations for Alito were, I was struck today by how Al Gore’s speech can be used as a launching pad for what may be the most important year in our political history, regardless of how the media covers it. Perhaps it was naïve of me to think that Senate Democrats could mount a successful pushback on the Alito nomination, but the truth is that, as Yglesias and others who I have chastised in the past have said, we can’t stop the Bush Administration and save this country until we win parity if not control of at least one house of Congress in 2006.
Everything that Democrats at all levels should be focusing on the remainder of this year must be on that goal. But in order to achieve that goal, Democrats must be able to fight over the long haul this year a series of battles that will lead to victory in the bigger war. It will take a series of battles that will be fought each and every month of 2006, battles that must be won by grinding out victories against the GOP Congress and Bush Administration, much like Democrats and their supporters did in 2005 in stopping the GOP and White House in their tracks on Social Security privatization, only it must be done multiple times in each and every battle during the course of the year, using tactics suggested at this very blog back in 2003 and 2004.
It appears that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are already moving beyond the Alito nomination into this battle-of-the-month mode. The Post noted today that Reid seemingly has deemphasized any talk of an all-out fight against the Alito nomination and instead is preparing new beachheads to fight against the Congressional GOP on the issue of Abramoff, pay-to-play, the K Street Project, and ethics. Despite my disappointment, this may in fact be the smart play, since it was never likely that Reid could command 44 votes against Alito with several of our red-state Democrats facing reelection this year.
Plainly put, there are multiple issues and land mines facing the House and Senate GOP leadership this year where Democrats, working with their supporters and interest groups like they did on the Social Security victory, can rack up victories in these issue-by-issue, month-by-month battles, all aimed at derailing the GOP’s control over one or both houses of Congress this year. Again, this will be a long, grueling process this year, requiring commitment and support of the party and the interest groups who are fighting these battles, and your assistance by contacting the media and elected officials to keep the pressure on them to deal with these matters or face the consequences. But a year of hard work in 2006 can lead to a series of victorious battles and a successful war that can yield what we are all seeking in 2007: the political unraveling of the Bush Administration before they destroy this country.
How can this work, and what can individuals do to help fight these battles and win this war? Well, for example, we know that when Congress returns this month the first two battles that will be fought will be over the GOP’s tax and spending cut packages and Arlen Specter’s hearings on the NSA spying outrage. The congressional GOP leadership is vulnerable on both of these issues, as the far right in their caucus is demanding unpopular spending cuts while pushing for more tax breaks for millionaires and corporations, as well as total support for whatever Bush wants to do in warrant less domestic spying. At least half the population on both issues is against the GOP course of action, and by employing similar tactics that were used in the Social Security victory, individual GOP incumbents can be exposed and made vulnerable this fall for their votes. The best way to do this, besides sending letters to the editor and the national media on both subjects, is to pony up some money and support the efforts of the various groups fighting these battles in a focused manner. For example, the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities has successfully pressured the House GOP into some retreats already in their efforts to ram through the tax and spending cut votes. You can contact Brad Woodhouse to get on their mailing list and to be kept abreast of their latest efforts as the GOP moves towards votes on the budget and tax cuts February 1. You can also become a member of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and support their work, which is integral to what the Democrats are saying on the Hill.
As for the NSA spying mess, there are several groups that will be heavily involved in whatever Specter does with hearings in his committee, and again, besides letters to the media and elected officials letting them know this is a major issue to you, joining one or several of these groups to get the latest information and likely arguments against Bush would be advisable, especially since Specter himself signaled that impeachment is a remedy if Bush did what we think he did. Join the American Constitution Society for Law and Public Policy, or if you are on the center-right of the spectrum, you can join Bob Barr’s group, the Liberty Coalition; both of whom sponsored Gore’s speech today. In addition, you can expect the American Civil Liberties Union to be a player both in the courts and in the hearings, and if you were looking for a reason to support them all these years but were worried that their other causes were a little too far afield for you, then this issue may erase those concerns.
Following on the heels of these issues will be the push by Democrats to get out in front of the “culture of corruption” that permeates the congressional GOP. Reid and Pelosi are reportedly going to roll out the Democratic reform package Wednesday, and as I said last week, it is critical for Congressional Democrats to offer their solutions, which by design should go farther than what the House and Senate GOP want to go. That is the idea. Democrats need to be the party of reform and a clean-up of Congress this year. Aside from hammering the media to cover this issue accurately, which you can do by staying in touch with the latest media disinformation coordinated by the White House by supporting David Brock’s Media Matters for America, you can also support outside groups that will be hammering the GOP to go farther on ethics than they want to go. You can do this by joining for example, Common Cause and Public Citizen, to name two. But one other group has been very aggressive in focusing heat on the GOP leadership, and that is Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW). Joining CREW, or one of these other groups, and working the media with their material will help a great deal.
These are just some of the issues and ways you can help the Democrats and interest groups wage successful battles in the first part of 2006 month-by-month, issue-by-issue, to keep the GOP on the defensive and sap them of their popularity with the voters this fall. There are other issues that are ripe for exploiting GOP malfeasance that don’t require stepping into energy-draining macro-battles like Iraq, areas where voters will make up their own minds this fall without much help from an active effort by our side. This could include pressure through Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller for congressional hearings into Elaine Chao’s negligence and that of the Department of Labor that led in part to the West Virginia coal mining tragedy. Another issue where the Democrats can score some points against the GOP leadership is by attacking the fiasco that is the Medicare Part D program, which the leadership refused to delay last year and is now resulting in thousands of the most vulnerable amongst us going without their medications. This debacle can be laid squarely at the feet of the GOP and White House, and our senators can demand that hearings take place in Chuck Grassley’s committee on why Bush’s Center on Medicare and Medicaid Services is just the latest version of FEMA in their disastrous implementation of this bit of corporate welfare to Big Pharma and the HMO lobby, while our states and seniors pay the price.
Again, this will be a battle-by-battle slog of attacking the GOP leadership and highlighting their malfeasance, rubber-stamping of illegal activities, and complicity in the destruction of this country. These battles will keep the leadership on the defensive, and if married with the Truth Squad approach advocated by this blog over two years ago in the districts of vulnerable GOP incumbents by a coordinated campaign between the DSCC, DCCC, DNC, and these various interest groups, it can set the negatives on GOP incumbents so that Democrats are poised to make gains in both houses while offering voters alternatives under the general theme that it is time for change to save this country.
The Gore speech today can serve as the launching pad for our efforts, and if we are willing to put in twelve hard months of assaulting the GOP Congress and the media spinners who assist them, a string of battle victories can lead to what we really need: a victory in the war against the Bush White House through a successful effort to gain at least parity in November, thereby emboldening the GOP moderates to break away from White House control.
It can be done.