Back To Ethics

House Majority Leader Tom Delay is most likely clenching up right now in anticipation of a likely investigation regarding possibly illegitimate travel expense funding. The House yesterday finally reversed House Ethics Rules that resulted in the Democratic Party locking down the Ethics Committee. Since Speaker of the House pushed the rule changes earlier in the year, Democrats have essentially shut the committee down, refusing to even meet, and therefore virtually halting the Ethics processes.

The old rules are back, and the gloves are off.

But now is time for a little commentary. I hate activism.

Okay, not all activism. As a liberal whose most vested interest is civil rights, I have to admit that activism played an important role in both attaining for women the right to vote, and for being a significant motivator behind the civil rights movement of the sixties.

But that was a different breed of activism. That was an activism of intelligence. Dr. King and like minded organizations such as Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee (or SNCC, pronounced “Snick”) practiced civil disobedience. Activists were trained on how to go limp when being dragged away, and how to take a beating while incurring the least possible amount of damage.

Compare that to today’s species of activism. PETA has taken to handing out “Bucket’s o’ Blood” to children who eat at KFC. Eric Rudolph has confessed to bombing abortion clinics in a severe and deadly pro-life movement.

The significant difference is not the extremity of the ideologies. That part is largely subjective. I’m sure at some point in time, and in many regions in this country, equal rights for black people must have seemed just as extreme as Pro-Lifer’s or PETA’s stances today. With retrospect its hard to see it, but putting yourself in the mind frame of those of that time, it’s more than just a possibility.

The difference is the nature. In the civil disobedience movements, those acts that mustered large amounts of press also garnered public sympathy. They were victims. When people turned on their televisions to see local authorities beating up on black men and women that committed no greater offence than trying to order a meal or ride a bus, they were horrified. These brave people were the victims.

When you read a story on the news about an abortion clinic bomber, or Green Peace throwing buckets of red paint on a nuclear submarine, you don’t think victim, you think assailant.

So what does this have to do with Tom Delay, House Ethics, or the current state of affairs in congress? It’s all about the image. Despite the fact that the Republicans control both branches of congress as well as the Oval Office they have time and time again displayed themselves as victims. Victims to the viciously partisan Democrats. Victims to the culture killing liberals. Victims to Gays, Atheists, Activist Judges, you name it.

Yeah, America may not be too happy right now with the Republican led congress right now (approval ratings aren’t even at the 40% mark in many polls). Sure, Americans 2 to 1 don’t approve of the Republican bid to nuke the judicial filibuster. True, the Schiavo thing was one huge pile of political cow shit and the Repubs stepped right into it.

But there is lots of time between now and ballot box day in 2006, and as the rhetoric heats up, watch as the Republicans yet again nail themselves to a cross. But the thing is, VICTIMS don’t change the rules to suit their needs, BULLIES do.

When the Republicans change House rules to allow Tom Delay to retain his leadership position despite being indicted of a felony, they may accuse the Democrats of persecution when they reverse it, but it’s the Republicans that are the bullies.

When the Republicans change the rules to allow for their preferred version of “activist judges”, they may tell you that Democrats are playing partisan politics, and refusing to listen to the American people’s mandate, but really, the Republicans are just bullies.

When the Republicans change the house rules to allow either side of the aisle to prevent anyone from getting investigated, the Democrats might be portrayed as trying to execute Republican congressmen while protecting their own, but in all reality Republicans are simply bullies.

Just think about that, in the last year the Republicans have changed two major rules regarding the way congress works, and they are on the eve of attempting to change another. Is that how a VICTIM works? Or the way a BULLY works? The Republicans need to get away from this hybrid bully/martyrdom, and they need to get back to ethics.

M

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