There are times when a party in power is so intoxicated with how well they are doing and their polling results that they vote themselves into a position that guarantees their downfall. This happens to political parties all the time the most recent example being the meteoric fall of the US Republican Party whose members were talking giddily only a few years ago about the possibility remaining a half century or more in power. The Republicans doomed themselves by ignoring the wishes of most Americans and governing only to satisfy the desires of the religious far right of their party.
No one said governing or driving the agenda of a political party was easy. Anywhere you go in the world political parties are comprised of people whom while they have commonalities also have different views and opinions. With two major parties in the US each boasting support of somewhere between 30% and 38% of the populace, or somewhere around 100 million people, you are going to often have pointed differences of belief within the parties themselves. It takes very talented people to stake out a set of policies and principles that satisfy a broad enough and governable coalition of the members of your party and independents and even some open-minded members of the opposition.
The Democratic Party leadership seems intent on a course that fails but for the opposite reason the GOP failed. The leadership is bent on satisfying independents in the center and center right and ignoring the liberal/progressive base of the Democratic Party. That leads to failure just as assuredly as either party pandering only to their party’s extremes does. The Democratic Party’s actions since taking congress have spawned an entire movement to get progressive Democrats to leave the party. Articles like this one by David Lindorff and this one by Cindy Sheehan and websites like XDem are the tip of the iceberg and the discontent has grown past the what I think of as the one third most progressive part of the Democratic Party. Congress job rating has plummeted since the first month the Democrats assumed power, see http://www.pollingreport.com/CongJob.htm and while for a time you could separate out the job ratings for Democrats in congress and see a higher approval rating than for congress overall, http://www.pollingreport.com/cong_dem.htm the trend is now clearly negative.
On OpEdNews.com where I write, members will recognize me as one of the Democratic party stalwarts always trying to show the positive aspects of the Democratic Party and most of its elected officials. I am not sure how much longer I will be able to do that. It almost all ended in an instant in the last few days with the Kyl-Lieberman “Sense of the Senate” action on Iran, more on that later. When one starts to feel like they are the political equivalent of an abused and enabling spouse, it is time to start considering alternatives and change. I often refer to members of the Log Cabin Republicans, the gay caucus of the Republican Party as acting like abused and enabling spouses considering how badly the party and its supporters have treated them. The Log Cabins have become better and more vocal advocates for Gay rights in the GOP as of late and that is good. A few specific actions have the Democrats making people like me feeling like abused and enabling spouses:
1. The failure to use any congressional powers to force an end to the war in Iraq or make more than a token attempt in that regard.
2. The failure to do anything to hold Bush accountable for his many abuses of the Presidency. “Impeachment is off the table” is bad policy. Most leaders never say things within their constitutionally delegated powers are “off the table” because you never know when unusual situations might arise where they are necessary.
3. The willingness to go along with a bellicose approach toward Iran. The Kyl-Lieberman “Sense of the Senate” bill recently passed by the senate initially included wording that supported the use of military force against Iran. You cannot give this President congressional approval for force unless you intend for him to ignore other options and go to war. That is the lesson from the Iraq War Resolution. With other Presidents, you could use it as a means for giving the President added diplomatic leverage. This President doesn’t speak diplomacy.
If the original Kyl-Lieberman bill had passed, I would have had to resign from the Democratic Party in protest. That is how close it has come for me. While we are talking Kyl-Lieberman, it is time to recognize the fact that Senator Joe Lieberman is angling for the destruction of the Democratic Party. It seems like whenever there is a wedge issue with potential for pitfalls for the Democratic Party that comes up in the Senate, Lieberman is there pushing those buttons. Lieberman has acted with vindictiveness towards the party ever since he was defeated in his bid for the Democratic nomination for senate last election. Hey Joe, don’t you think it is time to give it a rest?
The Democratic Party leadership has to start rethinking its policies and principles and retool them to address the liberal/progressive base. There is a core of discontent there that is starting to erupt. That eruption can be caused to cease or become gentler, or it could become cataclysmic. The party has done nothing for progressives since coming back to power in congress. Its time for the party to roll out the red carpet for its progressive base and come out with a meaningful set of policies designed to bring them back into the fold.