Ask Auntie Pinko
March 31, 2005
By Auntie Pinko
Has the GOP shot itself in the foot over the Terri Schiavo
case by allowing the spotlight to be shone on its radical element?
Will throwing this kind of bone to social conservatives - that is,
shoving the full weight of the federal government into a private
family matter - make the 2008 GOP primaries a nightmare for the
It strikes me that the eventual nominee is either going to a)
be able to hold on to the fundamentalist base by pandering to their
increasingly more insane demands, thus opening them up to accusations
of being far-right, out-of-the-mainstream nutjobs and driving moderate
Republicans towards the Democratic party, or b) lose the fundamentalist
base by backing away from the nutjobs, and thus losing the election.
PS. I think the Democratic Party's biggest priority right now
should be trying to get Roy Moore to run for president.
Auntie's first thought is that it is 2005 right now, and 2008
is a long time away, at least in terms of the public attention span.
Plenty of time for Mr. Rove and his colleagues to organize damage
Tempting as it may be to rely entirely on the various elements
of the Republican Party to self-destruct and make things easy for
us, I think Democrats should resist urge to fight political battles
in that territory. If the more extreme manifestations of the Republican
Party awaken revulsion among Americans who consider themselves moderate,
the best thing we can do is to highlight the Democratic Party's
differences, not just in policy and outlook, but in procedure and
attitude. We must use the time between now and 2008 to demonstrate
the standards of behavior and the ethical principles that the electorate
will be more than ready to appreciate.
And we should not forget, in our not-unnatural relish of the infighting
among Republican factions, that the Democratic Party is scarcely
immune from such squabbles. There are plenty of passionately-held
viewpoints among differing groups of Democrats. We certainly do
not hold a patent on moral and philosophical consistency. There
are even - dare I say it? - hypocrites aplenty among our ranks.
Tarring the Republican Party with the "nutjob factions and hypocrisy"
brush can easily come back to haunt us.
Auntie is not an authority on any aspect of the matter at hand
concerning Mrs. Schiavo and her family. I do not consider it appropriate
for me even to express (in public) a specific opinion on this matter.
I feel strongly that it is a matter for the family to deal with
in private, and although that is obviously not happening, there
is no reason to add yet another voice to the painful and unseemly
While this sad case does, indeed, highlight a number of important
public policy issues, any attempt, now, to put those issues into
a partisan political context can only be perceived as opportunistic
and cynical, no matter which Party raises them, or how sincere their
good intentions may be. Perhaps in the months and years ahead, after
the inappropriate din has abated, the lessons learned from this
excruciating incident may have a positive influence in the evolution
of public policy.
I believe that when that time arises, the long history of the
Democratic Party's advocacy for access to health care, the integrity
of family and individual privacy, and the need for a financial and
social safety net to protect the vulnerable will put weight behind
our efforts. Americans concerned about their ability to obtain health
care, and to have the social and financial support that will let
them make crucial end-of-life decisions in privacy and dignity will
look at our Party's long-term record, not just at this overheated
interlude. We need to be ready to make a compelling case for our
ability to deliver what the American people need in this and other
critical areas that affect their lives every day.
That won't happen if we simply sit back and let the "nutjobs"
stage their various circuses under the GOP Big Top. There are plenty
of clown shoes and rubber noses in Democratic closets, too, and
you can bet that the clever and financially well-endowed Republican
manipulators of public opinion will be doing their best to throw
a spotlight on them. Unless we can point to plenty of positive,
substantive, hard work on behalf of the things Americans really
care about, this whole tawdry mess will be just one more unpleasant
footnote in the decline of American democracy.
But I'm human too, Dave, and I do have to admit that I'd happily
send a donation to Mr. Moore's campaign, too. Thanks for asking
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