Lofty Ideals are Meaningless Without the Backbone to Defend Them
Is it just me, or is anyone else curious about how the Republicans managed to suspend the United States Constitution, thrust us headlong into a costly and unjustified war, and ravage our national treasury under George Bush, while the Democrats, even after being given the White House and a huge majority in both houses of congress, can't even manage to pass a healthcare bill that would benefit every family in America?
If indeed you have been curious about this issue, scratch your head no more. The answer is actually right before our eyes, but like the angry Medicare recipient boisterously demonstrating against socialism, we refused to believe our lying eyes.
The fact is, the Democratic Party desperately needs to get its act together, but two issues need to be addressed immediately. First, there are too many Republicans in drag on the Democratic side of the isle. These people have been playing both ends against the middle for years, and they're destroying the party. They keep a constant tug-of-war going on that makes Democrats seem indecisive, and cause the American people to doubt the resolve of the Democratic party for its own initiatives.
But the debate on universal healthcare could be a blessing in disguise in that regard. It's a debate that so clearly separates what's in the best interest of America from the greed of private interests that it's forcing the hypocrisy of self-interested politicians to the forefront.
Healthcare is one of those seminal issues like civil rights, social security, and the G.I. Bill. Thus, it can, and should be used to separate the wheat from the chaff, and flush out those so-called Democrats who pay lip service to progressive principles while working subtly in the background to maintain and protect the status quo. So it provides the Democratic party with an excellent opportunity to reveal, and then openly rid itself of its dead weight.
And it is essential that the Democratic party do just that--just as the party had to weed out the Dixiecrats during the civil rights movement. These Bluedog and conservative Democrats are diluting the Democratic agenda. They're disillusioning the Democratic base, and thereby, weakening the party as a whole. So the DNC needs to take a page from the Republican playbook and use the primary system to replace these neo-crats with Democratic candidates who are loyal to the party and Democratic principles.
While the GOP is atrocious when it comes to governing, there are none better when it comes to keeping their troops in line. That's why even though the Republican base has shrunk to it lowest numbers in years, the current political environment clearly demonstrates that they're still effective. The reason they're still effective is because they stick together--and they stick together because they all know that any member who falls out of line will be targeted for removal in the very next election.
As progressives, most Democrats are wedded to independent thought, so they tend not to want to adopt the Republican tactic of lockstep action. But the GOP is using the Democratic Party's idealism against them, so if the Democratic Party wants to survive in this cut-throat political environment, they need to start to adding pragmatic political tactics to their lofty political ideals.
It's time to start playing hardball. If the DNC fails to take immediate action against these thinly veiled Republicans, and start running loyal Democrats against them, it's not only going to perpetuate the neo-crats' rebellious behavior, but these so-called "Bluedogs" and conservative Democrats are going to bring the entire Democratic party to its knees. After all, there's a lot of money in being a rebellious Democrat in a Democratically control congress.
That brings me to the second issue--backbone.
President Obama was elected for the most part, based on his rousing oratory, his ability to lift the American spirit, and his inspirational ideals. But if you look back through history you'll find that while the American people will eagerly embrace these characteristics initially, in the final analysis, lofty ideals are meaningless in America if you don't demonstrate the backbone to back them up.
We don't have to go far to see this principle at work. One day history will look back upon Jimmy Carter as a president who was ahead of his time. He came very close to establishing piece in the Middle East, and the issues that brought him down had no more to do with him than the fall of the Soviet Union had to do with Ronald Reagan. Yet, while Ronald Reagan was clearly incompetent, and should have been both impeached and jailed on several issues, many remembered him as a great president. On the other hand, Jimmy Carter served with competence, honor and distinction, yet he's remembered by many as weak.
The reason for that is image. Ronald Reagan isn't honored as a great president based on anything he did in office. The only reason Reagan is remembered fondly is because he reminded the American people of John Wayne. That was his function, and that was all he needed to do--to remind America of a silver screen fantasy that bore no relation to reality. On the other hand, President Carter isn't remembered as weak due to anything he failed to do. President Carter is remembered as weak because he represented reality--something that America is determined to escape at any cost.
The American people don't want reality, they want to live in a fantasy. They don't want to hear about the bestial brutality of what it took to wipe out the Native American population on this continent. They want to hear about their Manifest Destiny. They don't want to talk about the gross immorality of slavery. They want to talk about America as that shining light on the hill.
So if I could relay just one message to President Obama it would be the following:
Ok, you've shown me that you can be a nice guy. Now let me see you grab the Republican party by the scruff of the neck and throw 'em out the saloon. That's what the American people want to see. Sucking up to the Republican Party is not helping your image at all. Have you ever seen Randolph Scott sucking up to the bad guys? America wants a gunslinger.
I know your ears would look funny in a Stetson, but at least get the dialogue right.