Environmental Ethics
and Public Policy
Ernest Partridge, Ph.D

HOME PAGE                             
    Philosophy and Religion
    Ethics, Moral Issues, the Law
    The Environment

On Politics
    The Crisis
    Foreign Relations, War, Peace
    The Media
    The Elections
    Civil Liberties and Dissent
    Republicans & the Right
    Democrats & the Left
    Lies, Propaganda & Corruption
    Culture War & Religious Right
    Coup d'Etat, 2000

Published Papers

Unpublished Papers

Reviews, Lectures, etc.    

Internet Publications


Lecture Topics

Conscience of a Progressive
    (A Book in Progress)

A Dim View of Libertarianism

Rawls and the Duty to Posterity
    (Doctoral Dissertation)

The Ecology Project

For Environmental Educators

The Russian Environment

    (Critiques of Post Modernism)

Notes from the Brink
    (Peace Studies)

The Gadfly's Bio Sketch

The Gadfly's Publications

The Online Gadfly: Editorial Policy

The Gadfly's E-Mail: gadfly@igc.org

Classical Guitar:
"The Other Profession




The Gadfly Bytes -- March 28, 2006

The Democrats: Missing in Action

Ernest Partridge


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 Congress.

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 passively “nice.”

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 yet.

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 compilations.

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 catastrophe?

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 future?

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 minor parties.

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 Partridge

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" (www.igc.org/gadfly) and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (www.crisispapers.org).  Dr. Partridge can be contacted at: gadfly@igc.org .