Saturday, May 27, 2006

Reader Corrects Rightward Democrat on History

Over the weekend, a right-wing-leaning Democrat left a comment here suggesting that I leave the Democratic Party, because the Democrats don't have room for progressives like me anymore. This reader also suggested that the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994 because they had gone too far and become too liberal.

I wondered, when I read this claim, if the reader had actually been around and paying attention to politics back in 1994, when the Republicans under Newt Gingrich retook Congress. The Democratic Congress hadn't really been acting very liberal in the years prior to 1994. They had decided not to protect gays in the military, not to create any national health care system, and not to pursue any impeachment or even censure of Ronald Reagan, in spite of the evidence that Reagan was involved in a scheme to break the law by providing funding to a group of insurgents in Central America and sending high-tech missiles to the government of Iran in secret.

The Democratic Congress was by no means liberal. Politically, it played the middle of the road, passing some occasional progressive legislation but not really challenging the corporate, right wing Republican White House. The Democratic Congress back then was, however, very very corrupt. It was the corruption of that Congress, not any superaggressive political liberalism, that led to the loss of Democratic control in 1994.

The problem of the Democratic Party in 1994 was the problem of the Democratic Party now. Democratic politicians in Congress did not regard themselves as accountable to the actual Democratic grassroots voters. Instead, they were only held accountable to the Democratic Party machine, which then, as now, squelched party primaries whenever possible and worked to promote machine politicians with connections to "important" people in their districts. The result was that Congress was filled with Democrats who saw it as their duty to give these "important" supporters a return on their investment, rather than standing up for the good of the American people.

The Republicans in control of Congress now are behaving like the Democrats in Congress did before them. So, the Democrats are using corruption as an election issue this year, as the Republicans did in 1994, but as the scandal of William Jefferson from Louisiana reminds us, corruption is not really a partisan issue. Congress attracts people who are hungry for power, and is a tempting spot for those open to corruption. We need systematic changes in Congress to address this problem, not just a change in the party in control. Without better restraints, the new Democratic leadership will become just as corrupt as the Republicans are now.

I was glad to see that I'm not the only person who remembers what really happened back in 1994, that the problem with the Democrats was not liberal politics, but rather, that the congressional Democrats were not idealistic enough. Yesterday, another reader left the following rebuttal to the first reader's claims:

"The Democrats didn't go too far, they went too long. The voters tire of policies that don't work and politicians who don't serve.

The muddling middle isn't going to cure any problems or provide stability.

The real issue is self versus group. The conservatives represent self interest taken to an extreme. The liberals have not had power in many years but they represent group interest over self. Don't forget the United States is not your personal interest, it is our group interest.

Being in the muddled middle is not leadership, it's ducking responsibility. Paraphrasing Ted Turner, either lead, follow or get the hell out of the way and do it for all of us not just the few or yourself."

Well put.

I'd like to point out that we have no specific reason to believe that Michael Arcuri or Ray Meier would personally become corrupt if elected to Congress. Maybe they would, and maybe they wouldn't. My point is not to accuse these politicians personally, but to point out that the political party machine systems in both the Republican Party and Democratic Party in New York's 24th congressional district are designed in such a way as to separate the candidates from the people they are supposed to serve, and to make them indebted to the very kind of big corporate donors who are most likely to come later asking for special favors in return for special rewards.

Whether we voters in the 24th District are Republicans, Democrats, or independents, we would be better served if we had a process in our district that was less behind the scenes, less dependent upon money, and more involved with the voters outside the political establishment. The lack of any special effort by Ray Meier and Mike Arcuri to reach out to the ordinary voters of our district is but a mild symptom of a deeper underlying problem that could, in the years to come, manifest itself in a much more profound and criminally corrupt form.


Anonymous said...

Talk about corruption! Compare corruption of one party to the other. That is ok.

Compare the accusations against Mr. Jefferson to those against Mr. DeLay. Then add in the whole list of Republicans who have now been accused of wrong doings.

Add in the House Ethics Committee which declared it would not investigate Mr. DeLay. Then add the House Ethics Committee in again for "reformulating" itself to avoid investigating Mr. DeLay.

And don't forget to add in the United States Constitution which politely suggests that Congress has the authority to investigate itself but left it up to congress to execute. But who controls congress?

Yes, it is a matter of degree. Matters of Degree count!

While 1% rodent droppings in food may cause you to be wary of eating it, a much higher per-cent may cause one to smell the problem.

If one does not smell a problem at this time, I believe America is wounded - perhaps seriously.

24 Independent said...

Compare the corruption of the current Republicans in control of Congress with the corruption of the Democrats when they were in control of Congress, and it is quite equivalent.

No matter which party controls Congress, unless Congress is reformed, that party will become corrupt. We need to think bigger than just getting our team to win.

Anonymous said...

I agree that our country has been SERIOUSLY wounded by this congress. How can we trust the white house or this congress with anything? How easy it is to predict what their voting outcome will be on the most LUDICROUS of ideas and appointments. It's the same old game. They make a little noise,kick up a little dirt and then they vote to stick it in the nose of America again. I simply canNOT believe that this man who masterminded spying on America for no good reason other than whatever they feel like doing is now the head of the CIA. The military in charge of the CIA! Just like Donald envisioned all along. Eisenhower warned us and here it all is. This second term of this president is the longest term I remember in my lifetime. There is no end to the damage he and his congress are doing to America both financially and morally. It will take decades to improve our reputation around the world. And even more decades to pay back the money they have squandered on profits for themselves and their friends. Slime. All of them. They all belong in jail.

Anonymous said...

I read a story that said top U.S. Generals were outraged by a newspaper editorial cartoon. Did that get by the Secretary of Defense? Did that get by the Commander-in-Chief? Could it have happened to other than the Washington Post?

When is the last time Sesame Street was in anyway connected to THUG T Shirts? And of course, NASA's climate scientist was approached by someone who recommended they don't talk to the press. This was apparently aa attempt to fix the climate change problem. Once that was revealed, the person left his position at NASA.

You see, prior to this, there was a feeling that the "Liberal Press" needed fixing. A person was put into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Given an opportunity to do a documentary. $500,000 dollars. The employee declined, then quit.

"The sins of the husband are visited upon the wife? A CIA operative was outed because of bad "IRAQ vibrations"? And IRAQ. That started out as a new kind of war, with the administration out front, taking full ownership of the problem. What happened?

Remember when conservative - meant fiscal. HA. Now I don't believe they want to stress "fiscal". it's "social conservative" now?

During this administration things have been attempted. What do you know deserves an "Atta Boy"?

And of course there are other Republican scandals still unmentioned.

There is no comparison between the 1994 post office scandal and todays scandals. What was involved was stamps, bad checks and some other things.

But now the country is up for grabs. Since Republicans control the Congress and the White House, they can sell what they want to.

And those voting machines. If you make significant contributions to the Republican party, your voting machines will have a "heads up" on your competition. And "thank you" for your promise to deliver Ohio.

Mischevious voting machines can do much more damage to the concept of one-man-one-vote than all the reincarnated dead voters now and in the future.

If you don't smell something by now, I believe the country is wounded - perhaps seriously.

I believe some Enron employees took home pencils, erasers and possibly a staplers. The some other Enron employees took home the company. There is no difference - right? theft is theft?

Anonymous said...

Marty Mack. He was our hope for a Dem in Congress and he should be advising Mike. What the GOP did to him was awful. Marty got screwed because he was pro-labor.