November 8, 2002
By Frank Lovato
As I watched the TV news this morning I was torn between wanting to swear or cry and at times, both. As the implications of the news reports became clear, I realized our nation was now in the hands of the lunatic fringe and there was not a thing I could do about it.
Thoughts kept racing through my head. Surely the IQ of the average American was higher that a cumquat! The presidential election was stolen just two years ago and the voters would not let them get away with that! What went wrong?
The news commentators, always looking for a reason for anything they do not understand, came up with the "power of a popular war time president". Wartime president, my foot! Bush was just fortunate enough to have the insight to capitalize on the 11 September tragedy and find an issue where he could strut, make stupid statements, and be considered a leader.
The sympathetic American public jumped on the bandwagon even though the 11 September tragedy affected them little or not at all. They donated money by the basket to the Red Cross, the New York Fire Department, and anyone else even vaguely associated with the event and Bush bled it for all it was worth. If I had family or loved ones killed or injured by the events of 11 September, I would be mad beyond words at the Republicans capitalizing on this terrible human tragedy for their own political gain.
He invaded Afghanistan accomplishing little. He couldn't find the Talaban or Osama so he needed another more tangible enemy. So he made Iraq the fall guy because, who deserved better to be the fall guy than Iraq. They look a lot like the Saudis who hijacked the planes and they had made a fool of Poppy and caused him to lose the election ten years ago. He may not be very bright but he does have a pretty good memory for things that interest him
With all this going for him, he fabricated the "war against terrorism" and made himself out to be a heroic figure. To the Republicans, who didn't care if their hero was an idiot as long as he helped their cause, this was reason to rejoice and it seems to have worked.
The question came back, WHY? My answer.
The Democrats, frightened by the wartime hype and polls proclaiming his popularity, tried not to alienate anyone and became Republican Lite by pussy footing around the main issues and trying to be good. Many backed that insane tax cut that will undoubtedly drive the federal government back into a good old time Reagan deficit. They tried to be good little patriots by supporting a unilateral war against Iraq. They became just about anything they thought might get them elected. In the process, the Democrats lost their identity and because of that they lost control of the Senate and further decreased their numbers in the House. What to do now?
Quit being the loyal opposition! Quit being so nice!
When Bill Clinton was President, a trip or two to campaign for Democrats would be cause for someone to rise up in the Congress and demand an investigation. What did the Democrats do when Bush was riding all over the country drumming up support for the Republicans? They let it ride because they didn't want to act like poor sports. When the head of the SEC was found to be either incompetent or trying to save the rich corporate donors that seem to flock to the Republicans, the Democrats merely said, "excuse me."
If we learned anything out of these last twenty years is that the Republicans of today are street fighters with little room for fair play and all that other stuff that looses elections. We did not lose the election because the Republicans got more votes, we lost because the voters saw no differences in the two and thus had no reason to come out and vote. The Democrats must promote a strong leader who enthusiastically projects the Democratic message.
For the next two years the Democrats in the Congress must use every parliamentary maneuver and trick to stop this illegal and immoral administration. Under the guise of "homeland defense" they will do their best will destroy the freedoms we cherish and abolish the social gains of the last fifty years. They must cry out at the top of their voices whenever the administration tries to pack the courts, subvert the governmental substructure, or otherwise stack the political deck.
If the Democrats continue to be lukewarm, the electorate will spit them out like they just did. Be hot or cold but not bland. Be brash, strong, and consistent in the Democratic message and just maybe we might get our identity back.