Saturday :: Jul 29, 2006

The People No Longer Care

by pessimist

It's no secret that many of us on the left are seriously troubled by the current state of the Democratic Party and many of its political stars - Joe Lieberman, the Clintons' support for him, the supine nature of the Democrats in Congress and the lack of serious challenge to GOP dominance as seen in their inactions. Some are losing hope in the Democrats altogether, something I understand from the inside:

Why the Democrats Aren't Going to Take Back Congress in 2006
by Andrew Foster Altschul

With just over three months until the mid-terms - and the last chance for voters to provide some kind of counterbalance to the criminal and disastrous Bush Administration - it's remarkable how much this year already looks like 2004. And 2002. And 2000. [O]ne is hard pressed to find a pulse in the Democratic Party, which apparently has not yet addressed its addiction to focus groups, play-it-safe political consultants, and apologize-and-retreat campaign strategies.

Last week, I thought I saw a glimmer of hope. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, headed by Rep. Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, posted an Internet ad which linked images of gross pollution, skyrocketing gas prices, Tom DeLay's mugshot, and flag-draped coffins of Americans killed in Iraq, with a critique of Bush policies. Finally, I thought, the Democrats were ready to get in the game. Finally they were going to tell it like it is, to hold the administration's feet to the fire, to get rough and loud and show enough confidence in their own views to actually convince people they are worth voting for.

A fairly mild ad, as full-contact politics goes, it nevertheless prompted immediate howls and denunciations from Republicans, who objected to the use of the coffin images for political advantage. Cowed by the bluster from the right, terrified of offending anyone, of appearing insensitive, they took the ad off their website.

Not three days later, Ohio Senator Mike DeWine started running an ad that showed the Twin Towers burning and questioned the commitment of his Democratic challenger, Sherrod Brown, to defending the country. The immediate release of DeWine's ad was nothing less than a calculated "in-your-face," an announcement to the country: "We've taken these wimps before and we'll do it again."

And it gets better: The image was digitally altered. It was a lie.
They think they're going to walk all over Democrats in November, no matter what the polls say. And I think they're right. While approval percentages for Congressional Republicans are down in the 20s, approval of Democrats is only in the 30s - hardly a ringing endorsement.

Republicans consider this latest debacle regarding the dueling campaign ads to be a tremendous victory, showing Americans yet again that Democrats lack resolve and commitment, lack confidence in their own views and policies - and therefore cannot be trusted to run the country in such dangerous times.

They have almost convinced me - and that should be a real wake-up call for the DCCC.

I'm tired of blaming Republicans for everything. We have a two-party system. When is the other party going to suit up?

It isn't, from what I've seen lately. They would rather protect their own seats than the nation they swore to serve.

But some one is standing up in opposition, but there's an interesting twist to the scenario: It's truly a sad day when the party in power has to provide the opposition.

What? A Republican is going to run as a Democrat?

Not exactly. Not in this example But at least one Republican with integrity is rising to the defense of the nation as a private citizen by calling for a change in the power structure:

Republican Says We Need A Dem Congress
by Dave Johnson

The following is an abridged letter from former Republican Congressman and Presidential candidate Pete McCloskey. (Originally posted at Seeing the Forest.) McCloskey was the first Republican Congressman to call for the Impeachment of Former President Richard Nixon after the Watergate Scandal and the Saturday Night Massacre.

I am a Republican, intend to remain a Republican, and am descended from three generations of California Republicans... I have found it difficult in the past several weeks to reach a conclusion as to what a citizen should do with respect to this fall's forthcoming congressional elections. It has been difficult, nevertheless, to conclude as I have, that the Republican House leadership has been so unalterably corrupted by power and money that reasonable Republicans should support Democrats against DeLay-type Republican incumbents in 2006.

Some 18 months ago, my former law partner, Lewis Butler, an Assistant Secretary of HEW in the Nixon Administration and subsequently the distinguished Chair of California Tomorrow and the Plowshares Foundation, and I initiated an effort we called The Revolt of the Elders. All of us were retired and in the latter years of Social Security entitlement. Most of us were Republicans who had served in the Congress or in former Republican administrations with men like Gerry Ford, John Rhodes, Bob Michel, Elliot Richardson, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan and the president's father, George H. W. Bush, all men of impeccable integrity and ethics.

We had become appalled at the House Republican leadership's decision in early 2005 to effectively emasculate the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct by changing the rules to protect Majority Leader Tom DeLay. [T]he House leadership refused to allow even a vote on what could have become an effective independent ethics monitor. Instead of repudiating the infamous 'Pay to Play' program put in place by DeLay to extract maximum corporate campaign contributions to 'Retain Our Majority Party' (ROMP), DeLay's successor as Majority Leader called for a continuance of the free luxury airline trips, mammoth campaign contributions to the so-called 'Leadership PACs' and the continuing stalemate on the Ethics Committee. That their former staff members and Abramoff were granted preference in access to the legislative process is not seen as a problem if it helps Republicans retain control of the House.

These Republican incumbents have brought shame on the House, and have created a wide-spread view in the public at large that Republicans are more interested in obtaining campaign contributions from corporate lobbyists than they are in legislating in the public interest.

Republicans are happy with this new corporate lobby/House complex, which is far more dangerous than the Industry/Defense complex we were long ago warned about by President Eisenhower.

I have therefore reluctantly concluded that party loyalty should be set aside, and that it is in the best interests of the nation, and indeed the future of the Republican Party itself, to return control of the House to temporary Democrat control, if only to return the House for a time to the kind of ethics standards practiced by Republicans in former years. I say reluctantly, having no great illusion that Democrats or any other kind of politician will long resist the allure of campaign funds and benefits offered by the richest and most profitable of the Halliburtons, oil companies, tobacco companies, developers and Indian gaming tribes whose contributions so heavily dominate the contributions to Congressmen... [I]t seems to me that the Abramoff and Cunningham scandals make it timely for the Congress to consider public matching funds for small contributions to congressional candidates, the same type of system we adopted some time ago for presidential elections.

It may be cheaper for the taxpayer to fund congressional elections than to bear the cost of lobbyist-controlled legislation like the recent Medicaid/Medicare drug bill.

There is another strong reason, I believe, for Republicans to work this fall for Democrat challengers against the DeLay-type Republicans... That is the clear abdication by the House over the past five years of the Congress' constitutional power and duty to exercise oversight over abuses of power, cronyism, incompetence and excessive secrecy on the part of the Executive Branch. The checks and balances of our Constitution are an essential part of our system of government, as is the public faith that can be obtained only by good ethical conduct on the part of our elected leaders.

If the Republicans in the House won't honor these principles, then the Democrats should be challenged to do so. And if they decline to exercise that privilege, we can turn them out too.

I hope ... as a simple private citizen to rekindle a Republican sense of civic duty to participate in the electoral process this fall. The goal of The Revolt of the Elders was and is to educate voters to the need for a return of ethics and honesty in Washington. That goal was right 18 months ago, and seems even more worthwhile today.

Pete McCloskey
Dublin, California
July 26, 2006

McCloskey, an ex-Marine combat veteran, is living up the the oaths he took as a Marine officer and as a Congressman in taking this bold step. He's attempting to defend the nation and the Contitution from all enemies foreign AND DOMESTIC. That is more than we can say about the entire Bu$hCo Gang!

Unfortunately, I still lean toward the views of Andrew Foster Altschul, for I have little faith that the American people are even paying attention. We already know that every time KKKarl shakes the Al Qaeda mojo at the people, they fold even faster than the Democrats can. 'I'm afraid!' is the sorry whine I hear all too often from those Good Orange County (CA) Republicans I work with.

Thus, McCloskey is on a Quixotic Quest for the honor of his own mythical Dulcinea - an America which no longer exists in the reality world. And the people no longer care.

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