The Gadfly Bytes -- March 28, 2006
The Democrats: Missing in Action
Still more on this
theme in an earlier editorial: "Missing
in Action: The Democratic Party"(2003)
Watching the Democrats, one would think that they never gave
up believing in Santa Claus.
Like little kids in December, they seem to believe that just by being nice,
Santa will deliver the gifts: election victories and control of the
The Republicans know better. They analyze, they scheme, they think things
through, they act aggressively and ruthlessly, and thus they win.
Unfortunately, the Democrats never miss an opportunity to miss an
opportunity. And opportunities aplenty are coming their way which, for the
most part, they simply ignore. For example, when one of their number,
Senator Russ Feingold, speaks up with a loud and eloquent voice, he is told
to shut up. Demanding censure of the outlaw President, he is told by his own
party, is “not nice.”
One begins to wonder if the Democratic Party really wants to win in
November. If they keep on behaving as they have, and if conditions remain
essentially as they are now, they won’t win. The Republicans will have a
lock on that election:
Provided conditions remain essentially as they are now.
Now the good news: it is virtually certain that conditions will not remain
essentially as they are now. Beneath the placid surface of our body-politic,
stresses are accumulating that could result in a seismic political rupture.
(I’ve listed these “stresses” in my “Perception
is Reality” and so will not
repeat them here). More conspicuously: Bush, Cheney and their war are
becoming ever-more unpopular, public trust in Bush’s competence and his
honesty is likewise eroding, the mainstream media is beginning to desert
Bush and his administration as the media continues to lose its credibility
with the public. Still more moderate Republicans, libertarians and
evangelical Christians are abandoning
Bushism. Following John Dean, Kevin Phillips, "Pete" Peterson and John
Eisenhower in 2004, now its Bruce Bartlett, Francis Fukuyama, Larry
Wilkerson, and Paul Pillar. Even Chris Matthews, who once compared Bush to
Henry V and Winston Churchill, has had it with Bush’s and Cheney’s lies. To
Don Imus, he
said just last week:
“From the beginning everything about
how they've got WMD's, they are a threat to us, they are going to bomb
us with a nuclear weapon, this country is going to be an easy liberate,
it's going to be a cake walk. As Cheney said as recently as ten months
ago the insurgents are in their last throes. Everything that is said is
not true... They don't want the whole truth out and that's the fact."
Whether or not the Democrats will wake up
and seize the offensive in the upcoming election campaign remains to be
seen. But of this we can be confident: the Democrats must venture forth and
seize their victory. Santa will not bring it to them just for being
A Descent into Despotism.
Critics who use “the F-word” (Fascism) to
describe the Bush regime are denounced as “shrill” and “irresponsible.” Are
they? Consider this: when
Bush signs bills from the Congress forbidding torture and warrantless
surveillance, he issues “signing statements” which states that he is free to
ignore these laws when, at his discretion, he chooses to do so. And now
this: “Last month ... President Bush signed into law a bill that never
passed the house.” [Mercury News, link lost] In effect, this demotes the
Congress of the United States from a law-making to an
“advisory” body. Add to that the fact that Bush and his party are
“elected” with privately owned and operated, unverifiable “black box” voting
machines and compilers, conveniently provided by GOP partisans. So it comes
to this: rule by decree by a “leader” who has placed himself above the law
and beyond recall by the voters. If this does not define a “dictatorship,” I
don’t know what does.
Meanwhile, the Congress, the courts, the media, the Democratic Party, and
public acquiesce in silence.
We’ve not fully descended to totalitarianism. Dissent, however muted, is
still tolerated. (But don’t you dare protest within sight or earshot of “Our
Leader”). Those of us who continue to criticize the regime have not yet
been charged with “thought-crime,” and sent to “re-education camps.” Not
So the task before us is not to protect our democracy; it’s too late for
that. Our task is to restore our democracy, to re-institute the government
we once had, “deriving [its] just powers from the consent of the governed.”
Election Fraud: “The Dragon at the Gate.”
If the Democrats are to capture at least
one house of Congress in November and if, as a result, the American people
begin to take back their own country, the party must first of all slay the
dragon at the gate: election fraud. For, as anyone who dares face and study
the evidence must appreciate, because GOP partisans build the unauditable
machines, write the secret software, and count 80% of the votes, “the
people’s will” at elections is essentially irrelevant. The election results
are simply what the GOP wants them to be, as they were in 2000, 2002, and
2004, and as they will be again in 2006 – provided conditions remain
essentially as they are now.
Accordingly, the restored integrity of the ballot is the sine
qua non of the overthrow of
the Republican autocracy in November.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party, those “useful idiots,” steadfastly refuse
even to recognize that there is a problem with the voting machines and vote
Nevertheless, the electronic voting scam is beginning to unravel, thanks to
the determined efforts of a few dedicated individuals, an uncensored
internet, and ad hoc citizen
organizations along with all too few maverick politicians (notably John
Conyers and Russ Holt), and despite the determined indifference of the
Democratic Party and the mainstream media.
More and more e-voting outrages, failures, and statistical impossibilities
are coming to light, and even breaking through in the media (most recently
in Ohio, Texas, Chicago, and California,
and the public is beginning to take notice. This awareness accomplished some
significant victories, notably in New Mexico and Maryland, where “black box
voting” has been abolished by state law. If this trend continues, and if a
few available albeit unused modes of verification are
put in play, it is just possible that November’s election with be
sufficiently (if not totally) honest to put an opposition party in control
of at least one, and possibly both, houses of Congress. Then a balance of
powers will be restored and the investigations, with subpoena powers and
threat of perjury and contempt of Congress in play, may begin to probe the
corruption and abuses of power of the Bush regime.
So, once again, opportunity knocks at the door of the Democratic Party. But
if the Party persists, with the cooperation of the corporate media, in
ignoring this opportunity, then that Party is once again likely to snatch
defeat from the jaws of victory.
Three roads diverge...
How will all this play out? I wouldn’t be
so bold as to make a prediction. But we might speculate about some
alternative futures, so that we might prepare ourselves accordingly.
Worst case – “The ‘Z’ Scenario:” Final
descent into totalitarianism. In Costas Gravas’ 1968 film, “Z”, a popular
movement is on the verge of overthrowing an autocratic regime. Then the
leader of the opposition is murdered, and the ruling junta immediately
imposes martial law and dictatorship. Could that happen here? As opposition
to the Bush regime grows, as evidence of corruption and election fraud
becomes widely known, this could lead to a crackdown on dissent, and a
roundup and imprisonment of dissenters. Another terrorist “Pearl Harbor”
could be the catalyst. Or possibly a new “pre-emptive” war with Iran.
A step too far – Cf. Russia, August, 1991. Is
there a limit to how much abuse “the establishment” (the military, Wall
Street, the media, the CIA, the courts, the federal bureaucracy, even the
Churches), the Democratic Party, and the public at large will tolerate? Is
there a point when these institutions turn around, dig in their heels, and
say “no more!”? These institutions, along with the public, have the means to
bring down the Bushevik regime. There are historical precedents:
When in Russia, the Communist Party attempted “the Z scenario,” the people
and the military would have none of it. The people resisted, the Army
refused to fire on the citizens, and the coup failed, and that was the end
of the seventy years of Communist rule and the Soviet Union.
And when the extent of Richard Nixon’s villainy was exposed by the media,
the courts required him to surrender his evidence, and at last his
Republican Party deserted him.
The CIA has been demeaned by the Bushista excuse that the Bush
Administration “misled by bad intelligence.” Furthermore, the
Administration exposed a CIA case officer, Valerie Plame Wilson, in an act
of political retaliation, at the cost of compromising a vitally important
counter-terrorism operation and possibly the lives of several agents. A
top-down revolt at Langley is highly unlikely, given the fact that the top
offices have been given to Bush loyalists. But that is not necessary.
“Further down,” intelligence strategically leaked, and blackmail
strategically applied, could have devastating consequences for Bush, Inc.
As for Wall Street (the financial establishment), how much longer can they
fail to appreciate that by supporting Bushenomics, they are scuttling the
ship they are riding on – that they will not escape the coming Bush economic
Then there’s the military. What if Bush attempts to launch an attack on Iran
in a desperate attempt to salvage a GOP win in November, and thus prevent
those Democratic Congressional subpoenas and investigations? Will the
military, having been ordered to fight and die in a meaningless and
dishonorable war in Iraq, finally refuse?
I imagine the following scene in the Oval Office, as Bush orders the strike:
“Mr. President,” says the General,
“our boys will go if they can follow you into Iran. So put on your
flyboy suit, climb into the cockpit, and do your wild-blue-yonder thing,
just like that President-Dude in ‘Independence Day.'”
“But you know I can’t do that! I’ll crash and burn!”
“The thought has crossed our mind.”
The “step too far” may have desirable
consequences, most significantly a restoration of our democracy. But it
could be cruel and bloody, and the “winners,” the CIA or the military, just
might not share our loyalty to democratic ideals. We could end up trading
one autocracy for another. Just consider what followed the Russian
counter-revolution of 1991.
Best case – A Velvet Revolution, November, 2006. This
is the outcome that we should work toward.
Due to constant pressure from law suits, the progressive internet, citizen
organizations, and the demands of ordinary citizens, the Democratic Party
finally wakes up and actively demands action on voting fraud. The issue
becomes too big for the mainstream media to ignore. While e-voting is not
banished all at once, it is barred from enough key races that the Democrats
take control of both houses of Congress. The e-voting fraud is finally
exposed and then, following Congressional investigation, exposure and
legislation, all unverifiable voting methods are outlawed.
Public repudiation of the mainstream media becomes so widespread that the
media conglomerates face the choice: responsible journalism or bankruptcy.
Congressional investigation exposes the political corruption of the mass
media. In 2008, a Democratic administration initiates anti-trust action
against the media conglomerates which are then broken up, and the FCC
institutes and enforces regulations against market concentration.
The new Congress cuts funding for military operations and for base
construction in Iraq. Chairman Henry Waxman of Government Reform Committee
convenes hearings on corruption in government contracts in Iraq and military
procurement. These are followed by criminal indictments and convictions of
numerous members of the Bush/Cheney Administration.
The House of Representatives votes bills of Impeachment against both George
W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Conviction by the Senate fails when the Republican
Minority votes in a block. However, the political power of the Bush
Administration is effectively ended. In the 2008 election, the Republicans
in Congress pay a heavy price for their support of Bush and Cheney.
In 2009, the new Democratic president repudiates the doctrine of pre-emptive
war and the precepts of “The Project of the New American Century.” He then
takes active steps to repair international alliances, and to restore the
reputation of the United States in the World community.
And what about the Democratic Party? I
began this essay with a condemnation of the Party, and yet end with the hope
that the same Party will act aggressively to regain power, and responsibly
as they apply that power. How is it possible for the same Party to be
impotent and irresponsible now, and aggressive and responsible in the near
Answer: it must not be the same party.
Today, many life-long Democrats are justifiably disgusted with their Party.
I am one of them. The Party today is “Republican Lite,” staffed with
comfortable DC regulars, many of whom are accomplices (if only through their
passivity) to the corruption in Washington.
This disillusionment with the Party has led many progressives to leave and
join The Green Party, and other minor parties. One result was the loss of
Florida in 2000 and the "selection" of George W. Bush.
So this is my advice to the disaffected Democrats: Don’t abandon the Party,
take it over. This is what the Religious Right did to the Republicans. Had
they instead formed a minor party, they would have been insignificant, and
the United States would now be a very different, and much better, country.
On the other hand, a major party that is “taken over” by its grass roots,
will have an organizational structure, an institutional memory, and
financial resources – essential assets that are hopelessly out of reach of
If you hate what the Democratic Party has become, I’m with you. Together we
can make it a party that we can be proud of and support with enthusiasm. And
also, a party that can win – as it must.
Copyright 2006 by Ernest