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Time to Kick Republican Butt!
March 27, 2002
By Bassman

"Democrats In Disarray"? They wish....

This is what the Republicans would have everyone think. Because we are an inclusive party, unlike the Republicans, and our party allows and encourages diversity of people, thought, and discussion, does this put us into a permanent state of "disarray," or actually strengthen our party? I feel it does the latter, but, we need to do a much, much, better job of getting our message across, and in the process, promote unity.

We have allowed the Republicans (with the media's help) to put us on the defensive. As an example, over the years they have successfully poisoned the term "liberal" to the point where much of the public has a negative connotation of the word. At this point, I don't see us being able to turn this around, and nor should we waste the time necessary to do so. I suggest that perhaps we start using the term "progressive" in place of the word "liberal." The term "progressive" has positive connotations, and is reflective of our basic values.

Here's Webster's definition of progressive:

One that is progressive: a person believing in moderate political change and social improvement by government action; moving forward or onward : advancing : increasing in extent or severity: of or relating to political Progressives: of, relating to, or constituting a verb form that expresses action in progress at the time of speaking or a time spoken of -

The Democratic party, and all of its spokespersons, should, whenever possible, start using the term progressive. We, in our writings, should do the same thing. Though a "liberal" at heart, I am also a realist. We have bigger fish to fry, like winning back the White House and Congress, and need not waste time defending or fighting over abused nomenclature.

While successfully mutating the word liberal, the Republicans, in a brilliant move, co-opted the word "right", and have managed to make it, for millions, a positive part of the lexicon. How did we allow this? The "Right-Wing", the "right stuff", "the Right is right", nauseam. The "Right" isn't right. The "Right" is wrong, and if anything, we are the party of "right," yet they have stolen the word, mangled it's meaning, and abused its premise. Fine, let them have it. Again, we have larger issues with which to concern ourselves.

We, the Democrats, have allowed the Republicans to successfully put us on the defensive time and time again. An example: despite winning the presidential election of 2000, we are treated like the minority party. We won damnit, and the majority of the country backs our policies, not theirs! Yet, the Republicans portray us as losers, and continue to ignore the political realities of their minority status. With tremendous hubris, and a great deal of malice (witness, Lott's diatribes and fits over Pickering), they deride the policies and desires of the majority, resolutely ignoring them while they try to ram through their ultra-conservative agendas.

As I stated in my DU editorial of last week ("Mandated Governance? Not!"), WE ARE THE MAJORITY, and we damn well need to start acting like it! We need to stop behaving like losers, and challenge the Republicans at every turn.

In a fascist move, they are using the so-called "war(s)" to silence the majority, in an effort to beat us back, and seem to have some of us cowering in a corner. I say, enough! We are proud, we won, and we are the majority! With heads held high, with electoral and moral righteousness on our side, it's time to take off the gloves, and give the bastards a taste of their own medicine!

If we can't be the Party with a spine, then we damn well don't deserve to run the country.

Unity of message is another area we need to carefully consider. It is difficult, under the best of circumstances, with a party as diverse as ours, to maintain unity of message. That said, all agendas should be made secondary, and relegated to one thing: voting out Bush, his henchmen (and women), and kicking as many Republicans out of Washington D.C. as we possibly can. None of the hopes and dreams we hold for our country, our families, and the people of the world, can be accomplished as long as these people remain in power. They are an illegitimate government, and we need to treat them as such, in, day out.

Rather than spending hours discussing conspiracy theories (no matter their potential validity), rehashing the past transgressions against us, or endlessly debating individual policy issues, we need to look forward, and stop looking at the ground. What's before us, is an opportunity to win. Without the win, the conspiracies will not be investigated, the abuse against our people will continue, our policies will not be instituted, and the destruction of our country will persist.

We need to get "on message," and stay there. Focus is what will win the elections of 2002 and 2004. Unity has never been more important for our party, nor the country. Looking at the current issues before us, there are several that would provide the best opportunity to throw the Republicans off balance (and out of office), and they need to be pursued with unwavering tenacity by our legislators (war, terror alerts, or no):

1. Enron, and their ties to this administration. This area is so ripe for legitimate scandal, that the Administration is scared to death of it. That fear will become more recognizable to the public as time goes on, and as we scratch deeper in search of answers, it will turn to a visible and discernable panic. It won't be long before they shoot themselves in the foot (witness Cheney's refusal to release information), and/or details emerge showing the depth of corruption within this administration. I want to see G.W. with that "deer in the headlights" look... again.

2. Bush's threatened use of nuclear weapons. We nailed Barry Goldwater with this, and perhaps it's time to conduct a similar campaign against Bush? LBJ's brilliant commercial showing a little girl holding a flower, with an atomic blast in the background, helped win that election. Was it an unabashed scare tactic? Sure. With Bush though, we are in even more danger of a nuclear conflagration than we would have been had Goldwater been elected, so why not use the same proven strategy? Americans care about their families more than anything else, and if someone can be shown, as Bush has, that they might put them, and the world, at unjustifiable risk, I believe will see the same type of reaction.

As an example, the Sacramento Bee newspaper recently published an editorial denigrating the Bush administration's new nuclear policies. The editorial brought dozens of letters from concerned readers. Of the fourteen letters published on March 23rd, all but two expressed deep fear and trepidation at Bush's decision. We should be capitalizing on this... now.

3. Corporate ties. The Bush administration never saw a corporate tax break or deregulation bill they didn't like. The term "corporate welfare" needs to be made even MORE synonymous with this White House. Repetition is the key here. Sooner or later, though they may get sick of hearing it, the American public is going to wake up to the fact that the Republican Party is the party of big money and big favors to their corporate donors. The current level of apathy concerning this subject, is appalling, and I am sure, delighting the Republicans. We must change apathy to action.

4. Environmental protection. Republicans are in the process of dismantling, sometimes through executive fiat, a broad array of environmental protections. The public constantly polls in favor, overwhelmingly, of increased environmental protections, not fewer. Why then, is this administration holding the public's desires in such contempt, ignoring the will of the people, and reversing decades of hard fought environmental legislation? It is time for environmental groups to put their own turf wars aside, and come out as a unified constituency to protest and march against this travesty. Our earth really does hang in the balance.

5. The "war." With each new day, the Republicans issue increasingly bellicose plans and statements (including their purposely intimidating "terror alerts") concerning the "war." Their political desire to keep us in a perpetual state of war, with all of the inherent advantages in doing so, are as transparent as they are contemptible. The accusation needs to be made loudly, and clearly, that the bunch of draft-dodging wimps now controlling the White House (and their brethren in Congress), are using the "war" for political advantage, and that many of the decisions being made are for political reasons, not security issues. When the public finally begins to question their motives, they will be in deep trouble. John Kerry should take the lead on this issue.

6. Civil rights. With the White House taking daily steps to erode and deny the rights of Americans seeking information concerning the government's actions; with Administration controlled propaganda spewing forth daily on the networks regarding the "war"; with Ashcroft and his scary bunch intimidating thousands, and shredding the Bill of Rights; with the lies and disinformation being disseminated daily by this president, it's time to say ENOUGH! We are allowing our freedoms to be destroyed. The very things we cherish so much in this country, the things we are supposedly fighting a now "world war" for, are being removed and manipulated by those sworn to uphold our Constitution.

In my mind some of the actions taken thus far are treasonous, and at the very least malign to an unacceptable extent the foundations of this nation. Other than an article here and there, and some muted rumblings in Congress (with a few notable exceptions), thus far there has not been the hue and cry from the public this issue deserves. We need to make it a bigger issue. What the hell good is a "war", supposedly conducted to preserve our freedoms, if our own government then takes them away? Let's call it like it is: unacceptable and encroaching fascism.

We also cannot afford, as a party, to let the Republicans continue to paint us as unpatriotic. Our outrage at their accusations should take on bold, new, and unrelenting political counter-attacks. It is we, who define patriotism through our actions, and our support of the Constitution. When George W. Bush was sworn into office, he SWORE to uphold the Constitution. He lied, and we must hold him accountable, and those who support him.

These are the defining issues I feel we need to concentrate on. There are hundreds more to consider, but as I pointed out before, we need focus, not fragmentation. The issues above, properly acted on, are more than enough to run these scoundrels out of office. It is our duty, as patriotic citizens, to inform the public concerning these outrages. Not only is it our duty, it may be our last chance to save the country we love so much.

"If the Lord can see can see his way clear to bless the Republican Party the way it's been carrying on, then the rest of us ought to get it without even asking" - Will Rogers, 1928

Bassman is a freelance writer, photographer, and activist.

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