Worth Losing Elections Over

I’ve no tolerance for what is happening to our civil liberties in the name of Homeland Security.  None.  To me, the ceding of rights to a government in the hopes that it can protect us from unnamed evils is not only unacceptable, but it goes against the grain of those principles upon which this country was founded.

I don’t celebrate the bloodletting that saw the birth of this nation.  I don’t celebrate war or violence of any kind that is not completely fictional.  Even necessary wars, which are indeed few and far between, don’t warrant celebration so much as quiet determination as they are waged, and relief and respite when they are ended.  Still, the principles that the former colonists held so dear that they were willing to fight for do represent an ideal that I very much celebrate.

In this age, I also mourn them.  The very principles many have lost their lives over are the same principles that too many of us seem unbothered to give away and not even for a guaranteed promise to keep our lives intact.  Instead we are peddled snake oil; a fake medecine that does not even logically address the source of the problems we face, and in some cases, such as wholesale war against countries with minimal to non-existent evidence, makes them worse.

We have lost our courage as Americans, and quiet bravery has been replaced with bravado and machismo, both of which hide an interior that is terrified to its core.

As you know, I’m something of an amateur student on the effects fear have on the thought processes, and I find there to be a singular conflict between the idea proposed, and the idea as it is.  Those who decide based on fear induced rationales, those who offer the knee jerk reactions and therefore jump to the most ludicrous extremes are considered tough and brave.  Likewise, those who exhibit the presence of mind in the face of fear to override the more primal and feral instinctual actions proposed by the neoconservative Administration are called cowards.  Those who do not act out of fear are accused of weakness and cowardice.

And the festival of unintended irony continues to march along, even after Democrats have taken power.  As Mick reported yesterday, Democrats in congress are, much as they have done on Iraq, folding on their obligations to uphold our civil liberties and resist the kind of fear based decision making that has helped transform America into a completely different and less perfect union.

But the cowardice is shown in true form in this New York Times article:

Administration officials say they are confident they will win approval of the broadened authority that they secured temporarily in August as Congress rushed toward recess. Some Democratic officials concede that they may not come up with enough votes to stop approval.

As the debate over the eavesdropping powers of the National Security Agency begins anew this week, the emerging measures reflect the reality confronting the Democrats.

Although willing to oppose the White House on the Iraq war, they remain nervous that they will be called soft on terrorism if they insist on strict curbs on gathering intelligence.*

(*bold added for emphasis)

Let us forget the folly in assuming that Democrats are willing to oppose the White House in way other than through words on Iraq, and instead focus on the very banal concept that what is at the heart of their fear is that they will not be able to win reelection should they seek to impose some sort of protective oversight on intelligence gathering.  This despite the fact that most Americans do at least want warrants before the government engages in surveillance.

Democrats have a problem, and it eats away at the soul of the party and pushes those who would support the party further away, as though this problem were a contageous disease.  They have no fight.  They have no willingness to stand for basic principles.  As we watch a sputtering and stumbling Democratic congress fail at every step of the way, there can be no doubt that they do not believe they have a base that will stand up and support them through the tough decisions.

But this is a problem they have brought upon themselves.  It is because they refuse to do what is right, or to fight for what is right in any capacity but the most superfluous that they find little support among their own base.  Mind you, I’m not merely talking about the far left, but of all progressives and liberals, from the far left to the moderate.  I am not even the most liberal writer on this site, forget associating with the far left of this country, and I find myself sickened with this batch of Democrats.

Here is the bottom line.  You have to make the tough decisions.  You have to do what is right, not what is electorally easy.  Sometimes you have to stand and fight and make a statement, and I believe that when you do this when the issue is so vital to our nation that it’s worth losing elections over, you will find a very large group of people that will fight to make sure you will win the next election.  And the election after that, and then some.

5 Responses to “Worth Losing Elections Over”

  1. Mick Arran says:

    Good post, good points, but I find myself in the odd position of defending Democratic reps. It isn’t everybody, it’s specifically the ham-fisted, conservative leadership picked by the DLC and the BD Caucus. There are a lot of liberal, even progressive Dems who aren’t any happier with what the leadership is doing than we are but are being good little Donkey soldiers because they – and their districts – will be severely punished if they disobey the leadership. I’ve written about Lynn Woolsey before and just today mentioned Michigan Rep Sander Levin whose bill to make equity fund taxation equal to standard corporate taxation rates was scuttled by Harry Reid’s sell-out to equity firms’ lobbyists, as well as Bernie Saunders and Maine Rep Mike Michaud who tried to help Costa Rica fight the CAFTA trade abuse.

    In fact, I suspect that if you were to add up the number of Reps and Sens who’ve tried to buck the DLC/BD Alliance on every front from trade to civil liberties to the environment, they’d outnumber the Alliance by a significant factor. The problem is that the leadership – Rahm Emanuel is a major force here – has been using Tom Delay-style tactics as well as heavy-handed fear-mongering to keep them in line. As a result, they haven’t come together as a cohesive whole, at least not yet.

    But there’s a revolt simmering under the surface and what we need to do is help it along by clearly identifying the leadership as the problem instead of making blanket condemnations of “Democrats” without clearly defining which ones we’re talking about, and by identifying and supporting those Democrats, like Jim Webb (sometimes) and the ones I mentioned above, who try to do the right thing in the face of the leadership’s opposition and disapproval.

  2. Laura says:

    You guys are so smart and insightful. Ever consider running for office?

  3. simone says:

    This is an absolutely must read post! It immediately captures the readers attention with such a fact based approach. You actually name names, give credit where it is due and criticism likewise. Excellent!!

  4. Kyle:
    Well-stated! I voted for a Democrat for Congress for the first time in my life this year (I reluctantly voted for Kerry in 2004)- and it wasn’t so they would just roll over on civil liberties issues and Iraq. I also know that I am hardly alone- there are many other libertarian-leaning Republicans in exile or political independents who did the same.

    At times, they’ve showed progress (like the Gonzales hearings), but then they never follow through. The amazing thing is that they seem genuinely scared of Bush’s accusations of “obstructionism.” What they don’t realize is that the very reason they were elected a majority in the first place was to be obstructionists!

    One of the Administration’s big PR stunts the last six months or so has been to attack Congress for being too concerned with investigations and not concerned enough with actually passing legislation (specifically domestic legislation). They seem to have bought into this, thinking that this is why their approval rating is so low. In reality (IMHO at least), the real reasons for their attrocious approval rating are that: 1. We’re still in Iraq; 2. Constitutional and human rights are still being ignored; and 3. Not one person has been impeached (consider that a recent poll found far more Americans want Bush/Cheney impeached than ever wanted Clinton impeached!).

  5. Mick: Yeah, that was actually more along the lines of where I was going with this, the idea that this is the leadership, and I truly hope you are right that there is a revolution brewing underneath, because if there is no restoration of the Democratic party, then there is little hope that we can turn things around and make them better without things getting much much worse.

    Laura: HAHAHAHAHAHa… no. Yes, but, after spending all this time talking about right to privacy, the last thing I want to do is give that up which is exactly what becoming a politician would be like. Also, I think I’m at least smart enough to realize I got no damn business running a puppy shop, let alone being a legislator or executive. And just to make sure we get all three branches covered, I definitely don’t have the inclination to be a lawyer, so the Judicial is out too. Though, with this exciting new Fourth Branch that Cheney created… mmmm…. maybe there’s a place for me in government after all. I get to have my own title… How’s under-chancelor sound? I’ll work on it.

    Simone: Thank you so much. Though, well, okay so I wasn’t so specific as you explained, so I’ve been kinda leery as to whether that was sarcasm or not… Being a blogger has made me way too paranoid. Thank you.

    PE: And another thank you. okay, for everyone, thank you… I’m not used to such praise, so er… little off balance. Back to PE. Okay, I think it interesting that you bring up the Clinton impeachment. As I’m sure you know, Clinton enjoyed approval ratings in the sixties throughout that entire ordeal, and I think one of the things that has impacted Democrats on impeachment is that while Bush may have won the presidency following Clinton (of course this will always be in dispute), the impeachment itself has been viewed as a backfire, or at the very least a misfire.

    I think the effect we see here is that the Republicans have ruined the idea of impeachment for a long time down the road. Whether on purpose or on accident the concept of impeachment has now been tainted with the mantle of being so bitterly partisan that you simply don’t do it. If you move to impeach, you will not keep your job which is terrible because when we talk about checks and balances, that is by far the harshest and most powerful check the Legislature has on the Executive.

    And I very well know that I’m not alone when I say that if you want cause for impeachment, you simply need to take a look at the history of this administration, and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of cause.

    The thing is, and Mick and I have been circling this for a while, and I think we are finally coming to a convergence, is that it’s the leadership. It’s the leadership, and this idea that far too many Democrats aren’t willing to take that extra step for fear of getting steamrolled by the Republican political machine.

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