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Only a Republican...
May 27, 2003
By Pab Sungenis

There was a saying back in the 1970's. "Only Nixon can go to China."

It made sense. Richard Nixon started his political career as a virulent anti-Communist. Seen as a crusader against the red menace, and to some the friendly face of McCarthyism, Nixon rode anti-Communist sentiment into the Vice-Presidency, and nearly the Presidency in 1960. So the reasoning was that if Nixon, who made his name striving to keep America free from Communism, could establish relations with "Red China," then by gum it was the right thing to do!

There are similar parallels throughout American history. Franklin D. Roosevelt is another great example. Only a patrician like Roosevelt, born to privilege and wealth, could put into place the social reforms that were needed to help alleviate the suffering of the Great Depression; some historians argue that without the New Deal the United States may have fallen into Fascism under someone like Huey Long.

Now, with the Texas legislative crisis, many Americans are seeing for the first time exactly what Bush pushed through in 2001. The Department of Homeland Security - which was supposed to protect the average American from the threat of terrorism - quickly degenerated into Bush's own little Secret Police, ordered by political hacks in Texas to hunt down Democratic legislators who had committed no crime, but were using a parliamentary procedure as old as Robert's Rules of Order itself to keep the Republican-controlled legislature from redrawing Congressional districts under a heavily gerrymandered plan pushed by Tom DeLay and endorsed by Bush himself. Combine that with what we know about the USA PATRIOT act, and the message is clear: offend the Republicans, and they will get you even if they have to send Tom Ridge himself.

Overreacting? Maybe. But at best, the whole incident should leave a bad taste in the mouth of Americans. And to many it has. The problem is that the Democrats can't really be the ones to push the needed curtailing or dismantling of this "Homeland Security" force before it completely turns into Bush's Waffen SS.

The reason for this should be obvious. Bush is looking for an opportunity to discredit Democrats, especially the Democratic Presidential contenders, any way he can. If we come out for severely limiting the power of the Department of Homeland Security, we will be seen as "soft on terrorism," and "soft on defense." If we push to investigate the use of this Department in a political vendetta by out of control Republicans, then we will be seen as the ones "playing politics with America's future." No, as necessary a fight as this may be, it is a fight we cannot win. Yes, someone needs to stop this now, but it can't be us.

Only a Republican can stop Bush.

Despite what Democratic activists often say, there are good Republicans. There are moderate, even liberal Republicans out there. True, they are marginalized by their own party nearly to the point of extinction, but they are out there and we need to find them. We need people like Olympia Snowe getting up and demanding a full investigation of the use of the Homeland Security Department. We need Ben Nighthorse Campbell pushing for an independent prosecutor in this case, which was truly a much worse misuse of power than anything Bill Clinton ever did. And we need to step back, take a deep breath, and let them do the fighting.

With enough pressure, I'm sure they will see the light. This is not a political issue, this is a Constitutional issue. This is a matter of a major threat to American freedom not from terrorists but from our own government. This is not just a matter of rounding up recalcitrant Democrats; what happens when some Republican comes along and stands up to the President? If we allow this power to go unchecked now, it will only grow, and people will simply become accustomed to it.

We need to convince our reasonable Republican friends that they need to stand up to Bush, and protect our freedom by limiting his power now. Because if we do it, we'll be seen as just playing politics. Bush needs to be stopped, and only a Republican can stop Bush!

Pab Sungenis is a nationally syndicated radio host, owner/operator of DeMarco Cinemas, and a Democratic Committeeman from New Jersey.

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