Political News--April & May of 06

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Democratic Party's Strategy?

From www.inthesetimes.com on the twiddle-de-twiddle-dumb parties. 


The problem with the alternative to the Republican Party  is that they drink from the same trough of election funding, and want to continue drinking as much as possible therefrom:  one is lard the other vegetable oil.  Thus the Democrats have passed NAFTA, and that they have failed to offer a significant alternative to the Republican follows from their watering hole.  The article below is about the outcome of this phenomena. 


In These Times is a monthly Washington watch magazine with a strong pro-union slant. 

Views > April 14, 2006

The Seinfeld Strategy

By David Sirota

For the first time in more than a decade, Democrats seem to have a shot at taking back Congress. But also for the first time in recent history, Congress is on the cusp of switching hands without a voter mandate. How is that possible? Because Democrats are only in the hunt thanks to gross Republican missteps—and they are going out of their way to make sure their potential election to the majority is about nothing. Call it the Seinfeld strategy.

Los Angeles Times columnist Ron Brownstein reports, “Democratic leaders are drifting toward a midterm message that indicts Bush more on grounds of competence (on issues such as Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and prescription drugs) than ideology.”

As a short-term electoral tactic, the Seinfeldian “competence” strategy allows the GOP to right itself with new management. Sadly, it is not a strategy based on ideological differences that puts a boot to conservatives’ neck when their hypocrisy trips them up and they fall down. Thus, while Democrats celebrate the resignations of people like Reps. Tom DeLay (Texas) and Duke Cunningham (Calif.), the GOP simultaneously celebrates because they can now counter the Democrats’ “competence” argument by pointing out that their party has sloughed off the incompetents. In short, the Republican Party and the right’s ideological agenda march forward, largely unscathed.

In making such a limited critique, Democrats tacitly validate conservatives’ ideological goals and further reinforce the public feeling that Democrats have no convictions of their own. For example, despite the GOP scandals and the political opportunities they present, Democrats refuse to push serious reforms like public financing of elections and instead push half-measures and focus on Republican missteps.

In the process, they are implicitly saying they believe the system that most Americans know is corrupt is actually perfectly acceptable. The same thing on Iraq: The Democratic Party refuses to take a position wholly different from the Republicans, simply saying the management of the war—rather than the war itself—is the problem.

National Democratic leaders will say they are forced to use the “competence” argument because it is the one big theme that unifies their ideologically diverse congressional membership. But that hides the not-so-secret fact that very powerful, very vocal, and very ideological forces within the Democratic Party support many of the conservative goals that a “competence” strategy inherently validates. {that is because they receive their funds from the same corporate sources that have cooped the Republicans--jk}.

On domestic policy, these forces went public in April at a press conference at the Brookings Institution. Led by Citigroup chairman Robert Rubin—Clinton’s former Treasury secretary—the “Hamilton Project” announced plans to “to take on entrenched Democratic interests” such as teachers’ unions, according to the Financial Times. Participants at the event used words like “protectionist” to describe courageous congressional Democrats fighting to reform the corporate-written trade pacts Rubin and others helped pass in the ’90s. They also advocated school “vouchers” and “entitlement reform”—code words for defunding public education and eviscerating bedrock Democratic programs like Social Security and Medicare.  {a  result of Corporate America is pushing for  lower taxes--jk}.  At least they were honest in naming themselves after Alexander Hamilton, the leader of the elitist Federalist Party and rival of Thomas Jefferson, the populist founder of the Democratic Party.

Public opinion data consistently show Americans are desperate for political leaders who will represent ordinary citizens’ interests—not just powerful lobbyists and their wealthy corporate clients.

Until Democrats decide to stop taking part in “business as usual” and start fighting back against the right wing’s ideology, they will face the same political liabilities they do today.

David Sirota is the co-chairperson of the Progressive Legislative Action Network (PLAN) and a Senior Editor at In These Times. He also writes for Working Assets, and is a twice-a-week guest on "The Al Franken Show." His forthcoming book Hostile Takeover will be released by Random House's Crown Publishers in Spring 2006.



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