Monday, January 31, 2005

Abandoned, Not Hijacked

Luke 7:31-35 (New International Version)

31“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? 32They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’ 33For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ’ 35But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

In today’s Kansas City Star Ellen Goodman made the following observation about the president’s inaugural address:

“But in editorials, blogs, and e-mails, many to the left of Bush have declared themselves either skeptical or cynical. They question the reality behind the rhetoric, the devil in the details, or the devil in the deliverer. Counting the number of times the word ‘freedom’ was used – 27 – those who distrust the president sounded like defenders of the status quo.”

“Do they actually disagree with the ‘ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world?’ Or do they just mind that the president took words out of their mouths? Again.”

It’s a good question. As a Democrat I’m mystified by my party’s stance on issues these days. For example, on yesterday’s Meet the Press Senator John Kerry had these interesting answers to questions about the Iraqi elections:

“MR. RUSSERT: Election day, Iraq. Condoleezza Rice, the new secretary of State, has just told the United States and the world, "It has gone better than expected." What is your sense?
SEN. KERRY: I think it's gone as expected. I think it was a good report by Brian. I think it starkly lays out the challenges, Tim. Let me begin, if I can, by saying first of all I was just there a few weeks ago. I think our troops today deserve yet again a thanks and a word of praise from everybody. They are at extraordinary risk. They're doing a remarkable job, and I want to give them that credit.
Secondly, it is significant that there is a vote in Iraq. But no one in the United States or in the world-- and I'm confident of what the world response will be. No one in the United States should try to over-hype this election. This election is a sort of demarcation point, and what really counts now is the effort to have a legitimate political reconciliation, and it's going to take a massive diplomatic effort and a much more significant outreach to the international community than this administration has been willing to engage in. Absent that, we will not be successful in Iraq.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you believe this election will be seen by the world community as legitimate?
SEN. KERRY: A kind of legitimacy--I mean, it's hard to say that something is legitimate when a whole portion of the country can't vote and doesn't vote.”

Good Lord in Heaven, what is wrong with the party of my youth? Something wonderful, extraordinary has happened and we can’t celebrate, we can’t “over-hype.” Senator Kerry, we know there is a long way to go in Iraq, but the president’s insistence that the people of Iraq would choose democracy and freedom over tyranny has proven true. Celebrate, for God’s sake, don’t demagogue!

Unfortunately it’s not just John Kerry who’s demagoguing. A couple of editorial pieces, one from the Washington Post and one from the Christian Science Monitor will illustrate my point. First, this from the Washington Post:

“In his 1998 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton waved his pen at the assembled Congress and declared that we must "save Social Security first." Democrats have since generally clung to that vision.”

“But now, in an ill-conceived effort to derail President Bush's privatization initiative, many prominent Democrats are suddenly dismissing the notion of a Social Security crisis or even a Social Security problem. Instead of offering sensible alternatives to the president's flawed proposals, Democrats are devoting their energies to attacking both the president's ideas and any notion of altering the Social Security construct.”

And this from the Christian Science Monitor:

“Senate Democrats, for instance, elected a new minority leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, who's anti-abortion but who also vows to be as persistently tough in opposing Republican bills as his predecessor, Tom Daschle, who lost his seat in November. And last week, 12 Senate Democrats voted against the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of State following the party's decision to stage a two-day floor debate over her role in the Iraq war. Not since 1825 have so many senators voted against a president's nominee for that position.”

“Both moves reflect a worrisome belief among Democrats that attacking the Republicans is the best way to victory.”

Please, please, let’s stop the insanity! As a Democrat I’m not asking my party to become Republicans, nor am I asking that we abandon our role as the loyal opposition. But what I am asking is this – has the party of my youth become so blind and so partisan that it has now abandoned its principles? Has the party of my youth become so focused on raw political power that it no longer seeks, nor desires to do “the people’s business?”

We Democrats are supposed to be the party of “The Fourteen Points.” We’re supposed to be the party of the “Four Freedoms.” We’re supposed to be the party that risked American life and treasure to make “the world safe for democracy.” We’re supposed to be the party of “the new frontier.” We’re supposed to be the party of initiatives, ideas, and principles.

I find it sad that we’ve now become all the things we’ve stood against. The party of my youth has become the party of obstruction. The party of my youth has become that party where the demagogues rule. The party of my youth has become the party that endorses raw power and eschews service.

In this morning’s Star editorial Ellen Goodman lamented that the Republican Party has hijacked words like “life” and “God.” Now she’s worried that the G.O.P has hijacked the word “liberty.”

Well, Ms. Goodman, I wish it was that simple. The sad reality as far as this Democrat is concerned, though, is that the words and principles haven’t been hijacked, they’ve been abandoned. The party of my youth is not bankrupt yet, but the fuel gauge is perilously close to empty. If someone doesn’t correct the free-fall soon the “party of the people” will be running on fumes, sputtering its way into oblivion.


King of Fools said...

There is also Howard Dean's "I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for."

Everything is a pretty big word. I know that I, as a Republican, applaud many of the things the Democrats (used to) stand for. I don't often agree with the path, but our destinations are usually the same.

Bob said...

You are right, the Democratic Leadership has abandoned the principles that made the Democratic party a great party. That is why a lot of people are becoming Republicans. They cannot support the current idealology being espoused by the current leadership.

Guy said...

Phil...Sadly the Democrats (the Kennedy, Gore, Kerry, Boxer etc.crowd) have become so fixated on the acquisition and maintenance of power that they seem to have completely lost sight of concern over what is best for the nation(whether it concerns domestic or foreign policy).

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for being a level headed democrat! There aren't many out there. I really think we could work together as two parties, if the present day dems would stop bashing the republicans and start helping find answers.

Thank you for an amazing post!

<"3 )~

Anonymous said...

A number of years ago I left the Democrat Party when they drop-kicked Mr. Jefferson and his principles out the back-door and turned to Old World collectivism: measuring human value by the 'group.'

Political appeals to Blacks, Latinos, women, unions, homosexuals, Hollywood zoo-ists, and academic elitists, etc. are on-going evidence of the myopic delusion present in their purposeful appetite and target. Such group-measures are without traction in view of the fact that the only humans available (to vote) are individuals. 'Groups' are merely verbal conveniences - not Reality. More and more the Demos take dead-aim - and miss.

World-wide collectivism is in an historical recession as Freedom and Information become more readily available. Individual voters more and more are recognizing the fairy-tale aspects of any collectivist appeal and submission to a top-down power oriented political form or self-described 'leader.'

It must be observed that such egoistic stumbling denotes a lack of perception and intelligence - they normally privately ascribe to The People - the masses.

Mr. Jefferson knew better a long time ago. He knew that loyalty to Principle is superior to favoring a misled Party.

an American Choicemaker
Psalm 25:12

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