Wednesday :: Jul 30, 2003

Keeping Our Eyes on the Prize

by Mary

Posted by Mary

Democrats have a long history of participating in circular firing squads where the heaviest guns are aimed at those other Democrats that are insufficiently liberal or moderate or realistic or anti-corporatist or green or whatever. Sometimes this trait can be amusing. However, these days it seems like an invitation to help elect Bush while we all fight among ourselves and forget our obligations to each other, the future generations (who don't get a vote), and the rest of the world (who also don't get a vote).

Personally, I'm not ready to commit suicide because those other Democrats are not sufficiently toeing the line set by this group or that group.

These days the Republicans are anticipating a decades long realignment away from the Democrats, while others are predicting the death of the Democratic party. Those in charge of the Republican party are hardliners and are not inclined to work with others if they can get away with it. They are more than willing to lob bombs into the political process to get their way. The current crop of Republican leaders are advocating a number of anti-democratic policies such as the mid-term redistricting being driven by Tom Delay in Texas, the recall of the Governor in California and the frivolous impeachment aimed at Bill Clinton.

As Orcinus reports, the rhetoric of the right is becoming more alarming as they become more self-assured about their goals. One of the most worrisome facts about our current politics is the almost deification of Bush in his role as Commander in Chief. The Salon article Orcinus refers to shows the true believer Republicans espousing an almost cult-like belief in Bush as leader:

Some attendees were driven by spiritual conviction that seamlessly encompassed faith in two messiahs, Jesus and Bush. For the true believers, Bush is a man of wonder-working powers. Jason Cole, a 22-year-old senior at the University of Iowa, grew enamored of Bush when he heard his earnest, simple talk of God during the 1999 presidential campaign. Cole says he has little interest in working in politics beyond the 2004 election. "I do it," he explained simply, "because I love President Bush."

If Bush and his successors remain in power for the next decade, Cole believes, we'll have a world "where leaders say what they mean and follow it up ... millions and millions will enjoy the freedoms that our forefathers fought for. Democracy will spread across the world. Iraq was a phenomenal start. In Africa, the United States is helping Liberia and giving AIDS relief. Soon, they'll be back on the economic track. People now living in squalor will experience a home-owning boom like that following World War II. Look at how Staten Island was developed ..."

The College Republican leadership echoed this pious optimism. Paul Gourley, the party's treasurer, is a chiseled, broad-shouldered 21-year-old from South Dakota. "I am religious, and my religious beliefs steer me towards this party," he says. Bush is somebody "students can identify with, somebody students can follow. His energy, his passion for America and freedom and his religious beliefs ... I think he's going to be one of history's great presidents. We're all honored to live during this presidency."

These people believe that Ann Coulter is a great thinker and fully endorse her solutions (especially in regards to liberals). This group (remember these are not your blue collar listeners of Rush Limbaugh -- they are the college "elite" who are harkening to a day of reckoning) are so identified with Bush, that conservatives are starting to worry about the unreflective worship as well.

Bush is still beloved by the Republican rank and file, the people who participate in voter drives and turn out on Election Day. Increasingly, though, there's unease among some of the party's elders, including veterans of the Reagan and Bush I administration. It's not principally about Bush's poll numbers, though they're going down, or about the 2004 election, though it's shaping up to be more competitive than most predicted a few months ago. It's about something more fundamental. Though they don't like to say it, when they look at the economy and Iraq, they can't help worrying about where Bush is taking the country.


Conservative leaders know criticizing Bush jeopardizes their role in the movement. "You have to make a big distinction between the grass roots and the leadership," says Devine. "The grass roots love him, and that's another reason why conservatives aren't very vociferous, because they know their troops aren't with them."

If the conservatives are worried about this group, then we should be too.

Beating Bush is going to take all of our ingenuity, our collective energy and our ability to frame messages that can win over the independents so they vote him and his mad dog representatives out of office. These fights between the DLC and the "base" are very destructive as our opponents are very clever and will use everything dished up during this time to undermine whatever candidate we put up. Why make it easier for them? Every Democratic candidate should be doing more to discredit Bush than to tear down the Democratic field. And we should be letting them know that.

Mary :: 9:58 PM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!