Following that hypothetical victory, the remaining Bushevik resources will be formidable, as will be their determination to recover from a loss of congressional control.
Even with the best scenario Democratic control of both houses of Congress on Wednesday morning, November 8, we will find that:
* The Patriot Act will be intact, with its unprecedented intrusions upon our privacy and its shift of power from the courts and the Congress to the "unitary Presidency."
* Also the Military Commissions Act, with its effective repeal of Habeas Corpus and at least five articles of the Bill of Rights, and its implied power of the President to summarily arrest and "disappear" any American citizen.
* Absent a veto-proof majority, these legislative atrocities can not be rescinded.
* Bush will continue to issue signing statements through which, in effect, he claims the privilege to disregard acts of Congress at will.
* Not many acts of a Democratic Congress are likely to get past Bush's veto pen.
* Challenges in court to Bushevik attacks on the Constitution will become more uncertain as more and more "loyal" regressive judges are appointed to the federal courts.
In sum, the Democrats would take control of a Congress that Bush and the GOP have almost made irrelevant. That Congress would be dealing with a "unitary President" who has been given, for all practical purposes, dictatorial power, including the power to declare martial law on his own.
However, both Houses of the Congress have the function of "oversight," which includes the authority to subpoena evidence and to compel testimony under oath, with the threat of criminal prosecution for perjury and contempt of Congress. This is the role of the Congress that the Bush regime has the greatest reason to fear. We can be confident that the GOP will take extraordinary measures to escape the oversight of a Democratic Congress. Foremost among these measures, of course, is the proven ability to steal elections, and to do so without fear of investigation and disclosure by the mainstream media.
However, the costs and the risks of stealing one more election could be exorbitant or even fatal to the Republicans. Thus the Bush regime and the Republicans face a daunting, no-win dilemma next Tuesday. On the one hand, they can allow the election to proceed with minimal "finagling," in which case they are almost certain to lose the House and possibly the Senate as well, with the dire consequences noted above.
On the other hand, they might "put the fix in" one more time. But if so, they will do so at enormous risk. In none of the previous stolen elections 2000, 2002 and 2004 have the Republicans faced such dismal polling results or an angrier public. If, by both hook and crook, they squeak by this time, the Republicans will have a lot of "splainin'" to do, and they will have to do that splainin' to a much more aroused and skeptical public. Despite a determined effort by the GOP and the mainstream media to ignore the issue of election fraud or, when pressed, to debunk it, fully half of the public has at least some doubt that the 2004 election was fairly won by Bush and the Republicans. And in another poll, just released by the Gallup organization only one fourth of the public is "very confident" that the votes will be accurately counted. With another statistically impossible Republican "miracle," that public disbelief may grow to explosive proportions.
Given their thumb on the election scales, the Republicans apparently have a lock on the Senate. There are enough close contests that a plausible 4 point boost above the polls can save their seats in Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri and turn the D's to R's in New Jersey and Maryland. Two or three such "victories" will keep the GOP in control of the Senate.
The House of Representatives, however, is a different story. There the tide is decisively toward the Democrats, and the public dissatisfaction that drives it is huge and so conspicuous that even the mainstream media is reporting it, along with the expectation that this time the Democrats will surely take the House. The concocted "miracle upset" that would stem this tide would be so implausible that it would severely erode what's left of the public confidence in the elections and public trust of the Republicans. In addition, the credibility of the mainstream media would be severely compromised. Accordingly, with continued control of the Congress, the GOP would have a very angry public on its hands.
Even so, my guess is that loss of the House, and the consequent oversight investigations, are the greater danger to the Busheviks, and that they will opt for the lesser evil another electoral robbery, then hope that a cooperative mainstream media and perchance another "national emergency" (possibly an attack on Iran) will defuse the national outrage.
In the 2004 Presidential election, the Bush victory was "explained" with a cover story: the evangelicals came out in force, and "moral values" was an especially salient issue. While neither story held up under close scrutiny, the public apparently bought it. The cover story was implausible, first of all, because a large proportion of the religious right voted for Bush in 2000, and thus there were few additional votes to be drawn from that well. As for "moral values," while 22% of the voters cited this issue as the main factor in their voting, I never encountered the follow-up question to that 22 percent:: "so who did you vote for?" It was just assumed that "moral values" was a Bush/GOP issue. Never mind that honesty, integrity, compassion, peacemaking and justice are also "moral values." (Cf. The Sermon on the Mount," Matthew 5-6). Finally, the huge Democratic advantage in new registrations was somehow deemed unworthy of notice by the mainstream media.
I've read a great deal recently about the GOP's formidable Get Out The Vote campaign. Perhaps this will be the 2006 cover story that will "explain," post-election, the "miracle upset." If so, expect the mainstream to repeat this cover story uncritically. They will not remind us that, in general, the pre-election Republican voters' support for their party was tepid, while the Democratic candidates were finding enthusiastic support. For example, in an AP/Ipsos poll released this week, 75% of likely voters disapproved of Congress (43% "strongly"), while only 23% approved (of these, 4% "strongly" approved). 56% said that they would vote for a Democrat and 37% for a Republican. Moreover, many prominent conservatives and libertarians are speaking out about the "advantages" of divided government.
If the Democrats take the House, there is good news and bad news. First the bad news: most congressional Democrats are pussycats, as we found out during the two years they had control of the Senate in 2001 and 2002. Now the good news: in a Democratic House, the key investigative committee chairmen would be bulldogs: Dennis Kucinich in National Security, Henry Waxman in Government Reform, and John Conyers in the Judiciary Committee. In addition, progressive Democrats would
chair these committees: Intelligence, Ways and Means, Appropriations, Homeland Security, Rules, Education, Financial Services. And as we noted above, it is through oversight and investigation, not legislation, that a Democratic House can do the greatest damage to the Bush/GOP autocracy. Recovery from the Bush/GOP legislative atrocities will have to await the election of a Democratic president in 2008. Absent massive electoral reform prompted by aggressive Congressional investigation and public outcry, a Democrat in the White House in 2009 is a long shot at best.
To sum up: whatever the outcome next Tuesday, complacency is not an acceptable option. If the Republicans win, they will do so at the cost of alerting, at last, a significant portion of the public to the fact that the United States government no longer functions to secure the citizens' rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," that it no longer rules "with the consent of the governed," and that, with perpetual control of elections, the ruling elite can not be budged out of office short of a revolution (hopefully, non-violent). Those who then sit idly by are no longer worthy citizens of this diminished republic and deserve the fate that the autocratic regime may impose on them. The rest of us, however, do not deserve that fate.
If the Democrats achieve a majority in the House and/or, improbably, the Senate, their constituents must demand, not accommodation, but rather aggressive action. The crimes of the Busheviks and their congressional lackeys must be investigated, exposed, and publicized. Those Democrats that fail to do so, must be vigorously opposed in the primaries. All the while, the progressives and the "democrats of the democratic wing of the Democratic Party," must work, from the grass roots up, to take over their party.
The citizen's duty, then, will be to strive vehemently and persistently, to resist the onset of despotism if the Republicans prevail next Tuesday, or to ignite the opposition should the Democrats somehow manage to take control of the House of Representatives.
Whatever the outcome next Tuesday, November 8 must not be a "milestone" or a "closure." It must mark the continuation of a struggle to reclaim and restore a democracy and a rule of law that have been all but obliterated in the last six years.
Copyright 2006 by Ernest Partridge