Thursday, June 02, 2005

The "Good" Democrats

For the second consecutive day, I thank Craig Rhodes for the message text below.

The editorial asks a fair question. Many believe that Central & So. IL are "solidly GOP". Rove & the Unholy Trinity he placed in office must be grinning like a cheshire cat. I find it indicative of the sorry lack of leadership in the IL Democrat Party & the DCCC. We're here. We're vocal. We no longer accept the Party's backroom dealing. If this isn't enough for Mr. Muir, I received this article from the USDemocrat Yahoo! Discussion group. There are positives & negatives to everything. As proof Jeff Gillenkirk listed several reasons to switch parties (e.g., fun and profit). . .

The reasons are many, not the least of which is age. I turned 55 recently and, having lived more than half my life, I can't afford to worry anymore about the other guy. It's time for me.

As a Republican, I can now proudly -- indeed, defiantly -- pledge to never again vote for anyone who raises taxes for any reason. To hell with roads, bridges, schools, police and fire protection, Medicare, Social Security and regulation of the airwaves.

President Bush has promised to give me more tax cuts even though our federal government owes trillions of dollars to its creditors. But that's someone else's problem, not mine. Republicans are about the here and now, and I'm here now.

As a Republican, I can favor exploiting the environment for everything she's got. No need to worry about quaint notions like posterity and natural legacy. There are plenty of resources left for everyone, and if we don't use them, someone else will.

I want a party that doesn't worry about things before we have to. Republicans refuse to get hog-tied by theories such as global warming, ozone depletion, fished-out oceans and disappearing wetlands. The real problems -- if there are any -- aren't forecast to take hold for at least 50 years. So what do I care? I'll be dead.

As a Republican, I can swagger and clamor for war -- in Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, wherever -- even though I've never fought in one or even been in the military. I can claim that we're fighting for Democracy, ignoring reports of torture at Abu Ghraib, Bagram Air Base and Guantanamo Bay, and a spreading gulag of secret detention centers around the world.

Freedom, as every American should know after spending $300 billion for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, isn't free.

As a Republican, I can insist on strict moral values when it comes to sex and ignore the growing moral chasms in business, politics, sports, journalism and the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.

A society that loses control of its sexual urges faces unwanted pregnancies, socially transmitted disease, broken families.

Those overzealous about wealth, however, produce only a higher GDP, lifelong security for their family and more minimum wage jobs for the lower classes. What's wrong with that?

As a Republican, I can favor strict punishment of criminals, except for those who happen to be my friends or neighbors. Isn't that the very definition of community -- looking out for friends and family?

I will be pro-death penalty and anti-abortion, pro-child but anti-child care, for education but against funding of public schools.

As a Republican, I'll have a better chance of getting to spout my opinions in the media, which for some reason seems convinced that since Bush was re-elected with the smallest electoral margin of any sitting president in history, liberals are passe.

As a Republican, I'll say goodbye to "old Jesus" and hello to "new Jesus." Sure Christ started out as a liberal Jew, and look where that got him. Compassion, love and diatribes against the rich only encourage the weak and punish the most successful among us. The Jesus that Republicans worship is a muscular, decisive, pro-war crusader hard at work cleansing the world of evildoers, not, God forbid, turning the other cheek.

My decision to become a Republican didn't come easily. For years I clung to the idea that the foundation of a democratic society was our implied social contract, each of us committing some level of personal sacrifice to the common good of all.

I regarded taxes as dues we pay for better roads and schools, safe inspection of meat and dairy products, maintenance of parks and protection of wilderness areas. I see now that looking out for the common good resulted in shortchanging the most important element in this formula -- me.

Let Democrats continue promising the "greatest good for the greatest number." Republicans clearly have my number -- No. 1.

I'm sure a lot of my friends reading this will ask me, "How can you sleep?" My answer will be, "Who's got time? I'm busy earning money."

While they're bellyaching about rising deficits, the outsourcing of jobs and casualties in Iraq, I'll be marveling at the march of freedom in the Middle East, upticks in the GDP and the president's plan to link Social Security to the magic of the marketplace.

As a Republican, I simply won't listen to bad news anymore. Bad news doesn't get me or my family anywhere. If you don't have anything good to say about somebody, don't say anything at all -- unless it happens to be about a Democrat, of course.

This is in regard to your recent editorial in The Southern Illinoisan which I've included below.

Your editorial only confirms the suspicion of many of us here in southern Illinois that The Southern Illinoisan newspaper has drifted more and more to the right and continues to do so. To state or imply that there are no good Democrats puts you in the company of the likes of Ann Coulter, who has called for the death of liberals, and Sean Hannity who puts liberals in the same boat as terrorists. Your rhetoric, compared to theirs, is only a matter of degree but not kind. And to quote your most recent editorial, it is an attempt "to intimidate anybody with an opposing view to (your) beliefs and agenda."

You then reveal your many other prejudices by the none too subtle trick of using guilt by association. If there are no good Democrats then by association, gays, environmentalists, women who have to make the difficult decision to die or choose dilation/extraction etc. can't be good either. This may not have been your intent but it is still the consequence of the type of rhetoric you've chosen. It is the rhetoric of hate radio that has been used by the extreme right since Reagan did away with the Fairness Doctrine. It is designed to demonize/marginalize the opposition. Thankfully, the left has finally begun to fight back which, it seems, is the real cause of your discomfort.

And yes, you have the right to believe that any judge who doesn't rule the way you want is a "moron". But the reasons you offer are specious at best. The judicial branch of our government is, so far, the envy of the world. Our judicial history is replete with decisions that have gone against the will of the majority. This is how our system was designed and to think that it should be otherwise demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of our system of government. Furthermore, you give no reasons at all as to why your beliefs changed or what those beliefs are re: environment, marriage, etc which is what you use for your justification that there are no "good" Democrats. This reluctance implies that your beliefs would not hold up under scrutiny.

Meanwhile, to date, the Southern Illinoisan has astutely ignored The Downing Street Memo that is the smoking gun that confirms what many of us have suspected for sometime now; Bush and the neocons had already made the decision to invade Iraq in 2002 and based the case on lies. As an informed journalist, you must be aware of the Downing St. Memo by now and yet your paper is dead silent on it. 1600 plus soldiers dead and thousands maimed along with over 100,000 innocent Iraqi civilians, mostly children, over a lie and not one mention of it in the corporate media including your paper.

This illegal war coupled with documented environmental degradation, loss of civil liberties, official policies endorsing torture, lies about the new Medicare Bill, the "piratization" of Social Security, stolen elections, packing the judiciary, religion based gov., war profiteering, ad infinitum, by the Party in power, should be enough grist for your mill to reconsider why you left the Democrat Party. By your own reasoning, you are guilty by association when you identify yourself with a Republican Party that is guilty of all of the above.

Yes, contrary to your disingenuous claims, you left the Democrat Party, it did not leave you. But judging from your editorials as well as statements made by you and your editor, Meta Minton, on your radio talk show, it is no great loss.

Craig Rhodes

Jim Muir: What happened to the 'good' Democrats?

I grew up in a household where Franklin Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy fell in line right behind God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

My parents, especially my mother, revered the two Democratic presidents, all Democrats for that matter, and warned her children that Republicans "look out for the rich" while Democrats "take care of the working class."
"If you're carrying a dinner bucket, you'd better vote Democrat," she often warned.

Since I figured out at an early age that my family was working class folks, I certainly understood why my mother always used the word "good" any time she referenced a beloved Democrat. An example of how much influence that thinking had on my upbringing can be found in the fact that I voted for ultra-liberal Democrat George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election, the very first election I was old enough to vote. And it certainly would be a fair statement to say that during my 30-plus years of voting I've voted for far more Democrats than Republicans.

Despite those admissions and my upbringing I started to look at political issues altogether different a few years ago. I started to notice that some of those "good" Democrats were endorsing issues that went against my own personal beliefs. Partial birth abortion, same-sex marriage, environmental issues and inventing a new welfare program every week are only a few of the things I started disagreeing with Democrats about. In contrast, I started to look at what some of the Republican candidates (especially on the national level) and realized that their beliefs are closer to mine.

Maybe the best way to describe this transformation on my part can be found in a conversation I had with a longtime friend and high school chum who reads my weekly ramblings.

"Knowing how you were raised I'm really surprised at your conservative views," he said. "When did you leave the Democratic Party?"

My answer to that question was quite simple, but accurate.

"I didn't leave the Democrats - they left me."

And yet another example of that can be found in the nonsense that is now taking place in Washington regarding judicial nominees. The Senate is headed for a showdown as early as today over President Bush's conservative judicial nominees and the rights of Democrats to deny those nominees a final vote on confirmation by filibustering.

There are countless questions raised by the ongoing debate, but the most obvious one is why shouldn't these appointees be allowed an up-and-down vote? And let me emphasize that the vote should happen regardless of whether Republicans or Democrats hold the majority of seats.

The current Senate battle is extremely important to Democrats because of a single fact - during the past decade or longer the Democrats have moved so far away from the mainstream that they now rely more on getting their liberal agenda accomplished through the court system than through the legislative process. In short, the Democratic Party is counting on liberal, activist judges not to interpret laws, but instead to make laws.

A case in point can be found in a decision handed down last week in Nebraska.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage ruling the measure, which defines marriage between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional.

The most amazing thing about the ruling is that Nebraskans had passed the constitutional amendment with a 70 percent majority. Can there be a clearer demonstration of the arrogance of activist judges who push the liberal envelope? In essence Bataillon's decision took the matter of same-sex marriage out of the hands of the residents of Nebraska. So, the logical question is why referendum votes on issues like same-sex marriage if liberal-leaning judges have the authority to say those votes and those people's opinions do not count? Judge Bataillon's decision is a slap in the face to Nebraska residents and tells them they do not have the right to shape their own constitution the way they want. Whatever happened to the democratic process?

And of course this decision also clearly indicates that, without a federal marriage amendment, same-sex marriage is destined to be imposed on the entire country by the courts. Bataillon's decision is also an example that it matters nothing what the will of the people is and that the agenda of the far left will continue to be battled in the courtroom and not Congress.

The Democratic Party playing the role of obstructionist in blocking an up-and-down vote on judicial nominees is the same party my parents talked about, and it's certainly not the party of FDR and JFK.

And with all due respect to my late mother, it would be very difficult these days for me to put the word "good" in front of Democrat.
JIM MUIR is a columnist for The Southern Illinoisan.


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