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The 2006 Elections: Let's Give Credit Where It's Due

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"Let me be as clear as I can be. President Bush believes if Al Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why. Some important Democrats clearly disagree."

Karl Rove, speaking to the Republican
National Committee, 1-20-2006

Maybe it's only because I am not an "important Democrat," but I must confess: I can't disagree with a syllable of what Karl Rove said. Yet with those words Rove fired the opening volley of the 2006 electoral campaign.

Rove made clear that Republicans plan to attack Democrats' positions on terrorism; a "cut and run" plan for Iraq (even though there is no such plan); our views on wiretapping, tax cuts, and Bush's attempts to shape the Supreme Court; our opposition to renewal of the USA Patriot Act, and more. And, lest we forget: they are the party of moral values.

Democrats must seize the initiative in this election cycle and avoid being placed on the defensive. We can start by making clear who owns the major issues of the day. But first, let us make just as clear the issues that Bush and the Republicans do not own.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own September 11th. It is presumptuous and dishonest for them to try to use the tragic events of that sad day for their own gain, yet they do it again and again with impunity. Who do they think they are? What do they think we are? September 11th belongs to all of America. September 11th belongs to the ages.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own the war on terror. Extremists and fanatics who threaten our safety and our way of life must be hunted down and stopped, whoever they are and wherever in the world they can be found. If wiretapping is necessary, then let's wiretap.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own patriotism. The American experiment is still young at 230 years. It is uniquely ours, fueled by workers' dreams and purchased with patriots' blood. Robust yet fragile, the American democracy belongs to every citizen. Keeping it intact and vibrant is an honor that falls to each one of us. Let's remind people that patriotism starts with a reverence for the Constitution and the laws, not with a cheap flag pin in the lapel.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own the troops. They are our sons and daughters, volunteers sent into harm's way half-a-world from home. They wear proudly the uniforms we once wore. We support the troops all right; that's why we believe they should be properly equipped, adequately staffed, and deployed toward honorable objectives. What's more, in light of their own military service, Bush, Cheney, and their ilk do not deserve even to stand in the presence of these brave young men and women.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own moral values. They just talk about morality more piously than we do. In 2006, let's focus on moral conduct and not on who says he's more righteous than whom. They can try to fool the electorate but they can't fool the Almighty.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own law-and-order. We all want safe streets and honest boardrooms. We all want criminals locked up, for life if necessary. We may differ on some important details - gun control and the death penalty - but those are differences in means, not differences in ends.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own the schools. We all agree that schools must be safe, effective, and accountable. We may debate the efficacy of NCLB but we stand united on the outcomes we require.

" Bush and the Republican do not own reverence for life before birth. Nobody wants to have an abortion. And all those holier-than-thou "pro-lifers" are really only "pro-choice" after all. They just think the choice should be theirs. Let's demand that they explain their patronizing, chauvinistic arrogance. Let them explain why the choice should be theirs, not yours.

" Bush and the Republicans do not own Osama bin Laden. WHY NOT? By now, they should. Let's demand answers: "Where is Osama bin Laden? If you don't know, why not?" Are they waiting for him to phone his friends in the US?

Does the Bush Cabal own nothing in this election cycle? Do they get no credit at all? To the contrary: here are some things that Bush and the Republicans have made uniquely theirs over these past five long years. This year, let's insist that they receive full credit where credit is due. And let's make that credit stick.

" The War in Iraq. More than 2,300 Americans dead. Flawed intelligence; phantom weapons of mass destruction; squandered money and opportunity; no-bid contracts; an underequipped and overextended army; a growing insurgency. Bush and the Republicans own the whole malodorous mess. Explain that, George. Tell us all how "Shock and Awe" so quickly became merely shocking and awful.

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Rick Wise is an industrial psychologist and retired management consultant. For 15 years, he was managing director of ValueNet International, Inc. Before starting ValueNet, Rick was director, corporate training and, later, director, corporate (more...)
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