Monday, July 11, 2005

Where Did It All Go Wrong For The Dems?

Note: I made a few grammatical changes since the original release, but the text is more or less exactly the same.

The past few months will likely prove to have been a very significant and unfortunate turning point in the history of the Democrat Party. No more are they under the protective PR cloak generated by Bill Clinton. The image of progressive moderates who even verge on the conservative is long, long gone. The party of Andrew Jackson has changed significantly. Its heart likely ended with Scoop Jackson, and today looks a heck of a lot more like Jesse Jackson. Today, it is a caricature of what it once was, and is in danger of collapsing. But it was not always so. What the heck turned this once great national party into the freakshow it has become?

The Democrats were indeed a powerful party, if not the most powerful for most of the early to mid Twentieth Century. Lions like FDR, Harry Truman, Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and even Lyndon Johnson to a degree, despite whatever failures (which are common to any presidency) occurred on their watch, were particularly effective leaders who history views favorably. But since that time the party leaders have increasingly placed themselves out of the mainstream by adopting policies of the far left that progressively moved them further and further to the left and away from the ideals of the people who would elect them. But until recently, they have been able to downplay just how radical their views are. But rather than hide behind a very effective moderate cloak as Bill Clinton did, they have instead allowed themselves to engage in political rhetoric that has eroded public support for both their policies and for themselves as politicians.

The last election where the Democrats could compete with the Republicans was 1968. A dark horse, Hubert Humphrey, was nominated at the Democratic National Convention after Bobby Kennedy was killed. Humphrey was liberal in many ways, but he was certainly a hawk where the Soviets were concerned. He was ardently pro-American and was not going to put a different face towards the Soviets than either Johnson or Kennedy had. But he was not the star of the show that year. Young radical leftists rioted throughout Chicago where the convention was held. They were anti-war and anti just about anything else. They got the camera time and made themselves known as the extremists they were. And they began to infiltrate and influence the party.

And in various critical ways which we will examine, the Democrats have departed from the very things that made them great, turning themselves into a party that in the coming years may become a second tier political organization.

The Democrats since the days of FDR have been the party of big government which carries with it numerous other issues. The goal was to benefit all Americans through state programs, and to be sure, that goal was realized to a degree, but the 1980s showed us that there was no better social welfare system than a job. It kept people busy, paid, and out of trouble.

But big government requires big bucks. In order to get the money, taxes were raised, and up until the Reagan years, income taxes were confiscatory. And while many Southern "Blue Dog" Democrats favored the Reagan economic plan, the left wanted no part of it. And the left was the up and coming branch of the party.

Coming out of the 1960s, these people favored government solutions to social problems and were quite suspicious of corporate America. They presumed that the wealthy got that way on the backs of the poor, and that business needed to be heavily regulated in order to prevent economic injustice.

But over-taxation and regulation of business and individuals create problems for the very people whose interests the left claims to be protecting. Taxes and regulation compliance cost businesses money, which means salary to pay for lower income jobs. Push them enough and they'll close up and move somewhere else. Because businesses never stay where they are not wanted. Same with people. They stop spending when the government takes more of their money.

And so the left wing Democrats sell tax cuts as Republicans throwing money at their rich friends. They willingly ignore the economic activity that grows out of tax cuts and the fact that once they take full effect, they end up literally soaking the rich, as the rich pay an even greater percentage of the taxes than they were paying before. They don't mind because their investments have generated significantly greater income for them than before the tax cuts, and they end up benefiting along with the Treasury. The government does less and makes more. Everyone wins.

But these facts have never dissuaded the left from their belief that it is their job to police the market to ensure that people are not making "too much" money. And the implication that someone lawfully and ethically engaged in business could make "too much" money means that the left views the market as a necessary evil, rather than a place for individual effort and intellect to generate prosperity as our Founding Fathers intended. And the idea that people should not be allowed to keep most if not all of the money they earn is uniquely un-American.

But rather than capping an individual or corporation's income and advocate moving to a command economy, the left favors people continuing to work jobs and paying taxes in order to pay for their government programs which redistribute wealth to those who do not or will not work or hold higher-paying jobs. But the short-term benefits of the welfare state are greatly outweighed by the long term costs, insofar as government handouts have created a permanent, dependent underclass. It was easier to stay home and collect than go out and work, and the more children one had, the more one collected. It became a very easy calculation that if one mass produced children, more money came in. It was not designed to work that way, but once the abuses became clear, the left would never do a thing to fix it. As a result, people remained out of the workforce, did not develop skills, did not learn to advance themselves, and children grew up with parents modeling sloth, perpetuating the cycle.

It's a nice way for the left to ensure their own job security. The government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always count on Paul's vote.

So it seems that the best way to sum up the Democrats' economic plan is that everyone loses. Except them.

Leadership and National Security
Part of being a realistic American is recognizing that America occasionally goofs. We never claimed to be perfect. But the impression that our leaders must put forth is that we are indeed the greatest nation that has ever been placed on the earth. No nation has ever earned and given so much of its own money with no expectation in return. No other nation in history has ever used its military to disgorge horrid governments to replace them with popularly elected governments with nothing in return. And despite what some may say, we are indeed a heroic nation like no other. Call me a jingoist, but when the people ruled by enemy governments look forward to our invasions, it says libraries about the perception of us in people's hearts and minds.

And while American presidents come and go with different policies that affect Americans in different ways, regardless of which party occupies the White House, the rest of the world--and especially our enemies--should not be able to discern any difference between one leader and another. And there was a time when they could not.

Containment was the U.S. policy toward Communism, and it was marginally successful at best. Nonetheless, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford all treated the Soviets in much the same way. Granted, they may have smiled for the cameras, but nobody was fooled. You don't compete in a military build-up and fight proxy wars with friends. We always moved to check them and they despised us for it.

But there came a time when the Democrats willingly blinked.

Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, and for the first time, the Soviets saw a very real opportunity. Not for peace (as they never wanted that to begin with), but for expansion. Carter knew, as did everyone, that the Soviets were inherently expansionist. But for reasons known only to him, he believed that they had softened. But it wasn't the Soviets who had gone soft on Communism.

After a warm and loving meeting with Leonid Brezhnev, Carter announced that our inordinate fear of Communism was over, and inked the Salt II treaty in March of 1979. Then in December of the same year, in their centuries-old desire for a warm-water port and access to the Middle East, the Soviets moved their military southward into Afghanistan. Carter did nothing more (other than dooming the hopes of American athletes by boycotting the Moscow Olympics) than utter some strong words, claiming that Brezhnev had lied to him, which was not much of a secret to the rest of the nation he claimed to lead. And when we had hostages taken in Iran from our largely unguarded embassy in 1979, Carter did nothing (other than freeze their assets in the U.S. and send the Delta Force into Iran on a mission which they advised was a long shot, and likewise ended in disaster) and thus made himself and his nation appear painfully ineffective against a tinpot dictator, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini who was one of the earliest stirrers of the pot of Islamism.

His flaccid approach to Communism had very tangibly destructive results and created the very real impression that Americans thought little of their great nation, to have elected a man who did nothing more than whine in the face of Soviet progress in the Cold War.

But he was not alone. George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis all believed much the same thing. And in an era when voters were concerned about national security, which meant checking the Soviet Union's ambitions, these men lacked the seriousness and spine which it would take to stand up to Moscow. And voters rejected them for it by fairly significant margins (especially in the cases of Mondale and McGovern)

But those Democrats were not alone. Ted Kennedy, brother of the two hawks, significantly departed from their ways and opposed Jimmy Carter's reelection because he felt that Carter was too liberal--a sobering thought even in 1980. Upon the election of Ronald Reagan, Kennedy actively worked with the Soviets in an effort to avert what he felt would be serious consequences of Reagan's policies of military buildup and challenging their expansion. Granted, the Soviets never took Ted Kennedy particularly seriously, but showing a face of panic and unnecessary mercy to the most aggressive government at the time, highlighted to the enemy the vast difference between the Republicans and the Democrats. And it was fairly clear to them that the Democrats were much preferred to Republicans.

As a result of the pressure of the Reagan years, the Soviets spent themselves into collapse to keep up. They lost the Cold War.

But it would not have happened had a hard line not been taken.

Fast forward to today. The Democrats do not get the war on terror, and this piece from the Weekly Standard says it better than I ever could. The Democrats cannot and will not take National Security seriously, instead focusing on the cultural accommodations and physical comfort of terrorists in our custody, and blaming us for making terrorism worse by combating it. Of course, I expect that the terrorists are not happy with our efforts, but neither were the Nazis. Neville Chamberlain was concerned about upsetting Hitler. Look at the benefits of his appeasement.

The American people believe that security means stomping out terror and its sources. The Democrats believe that it will be solved as a matter of law enforcement, requiring no military involvement. Not only is their approach naive, it is willingly ignorant of known dangers.

Leadership means putting your nation's interests first and being proud of it. It also means not putting the concerns of an enemy above that of the United States. The "global test" isn't the best one.

But in any case, the Democrats have repeatedly failed that test for over thirty years when national security has been an issue, alienating them from the electorate.

Law and Justice

One of the most amazing things about America is that we are not governed by fiat, but by laws that are passed by a legislative body on the federal level made up of 535 men and women from across the nation. The Founders wanted the lawmaking power diffused in such a way, as Congress's job in setting the laws by which we would be governed is by far the most important one.

But when those laws lose their meaning, we lose our freedom.

The idea of law and order is an arcane one, but it is also one that keeps our neighborhoods safe. And the Dems have consistently favored the criminal since the 1960s. Rather than prosecution and punishment, they make excuses. The perpetrator's parentage, upbringing, the fact that he or she was underprivileged, uneducated, etc. It was no longer the fault of the criminal, but of the society that put him at a disadvantage which predisposed him to crime. Of course, by that logic, every person living in poverty would be a criminal, or at least predisposed to it. And it would be someone else's fault.

And they brought in another wonderful element to the justice system--the race card. Law needed to be enforced with sensitivity to the race of the accused. Enforcement was equated with racism, because many more blacks than whites were ending up in prison. They argued that law was being enforced disproportionately between the races. Which would be a valid criticism if crimes are committed equally among the various ethnicities in America. Crime quotas. But they aren't. And while certain lifestyles, as argued above, do indeed make crime potentially more attractive, they do not induce crime. It is the choice of the individual and the moral fiber of that person.

But when law becomes secondary to psychosocial and racial politics, the social framework that keeps us safe erodes and we slide into anarchy. The alleged benefits of politically correct racial politics is not worth the boundaries, incentives and disincentives created by laws to encourage lawful behavior or discourage crime. And Americans do not like the idea that crime could be coddled.

Michael Dukakis in 1988 was hammered by the Bush Campaign, among others, for an unusual softness on crime. It was reported and confirmed that as Governor of Massachusetts that he allowed violent criminals in jail to have passes to walk free on weekends. The reasons for it were never made clear, and if they were, would not have been understandable to reasonable people. One such character, Willie Horton, left prison and forgot to return at the end of the weekend. But he didn't forget how to harm people. He made his way south to Maryland where he harmed a suburban D.C. couple and nearly killed them. It was an embarrassing moment for Dukakis, but he blew it off...even when it slammed him in a debate. Bernard Shaw asked him what he would think about the weekend passes if the criminals raped and otherwise harmed his wife. The question was no problem for Dukakis who had a very well nuanced and reasoned answer--which shocked the nation as remarkably irrational, immoral and cavalier. He cared nothing about crime and wanted to be loving to the criminals, and that issue more than any other defined him and brought an end to his candidacy.

Much like the national security issue, law & order is a loser for the Dems.

And then there is the matter of the formation of the law which brings us to a very significant argument of the day--who gets to make the laws.

The U.S. Constitution is very clear about how laws are made. The Congress writes them. The President approves and carries them out. The courts handle decisions based upon them. Of course, the courts granted themselves a little more power in the case of Marbury v. Madison where Chief Justice John Marshall writing for the Supreme Court held that despite the fact that nothing in the Constitution says so, it is the job of the courts to review the constitutionality of the laws and actions of the other two branches.

Which is very different from inventing things that one thinks ought to have been in the constitution or laws to begin with.

The Founders wanted our laws being drafted by a legislative body, not a committee of a few or a single individual. Because representative government means that the laws passed are approved by the majority of the representatives of all of the people across the nation. And the vast majority of them risk their seats (to whatever degree in reality) every two years and risk the wrath of their constituents if they got wrong their will.

But laws passed by just a few or even a one are subject to insular thought. And it's downright tyranny when those few or individual lawmakers are unaccountable to the governed. But herein lies the problem. The Democrats favor courts that will settle disputes by rewriting laws, not applying the laws as they are. It's not that leftist Democrats per se favor courts as lawmakers, but they cannot pass their social agenda any other way.

If Bill Clinton had approached the 1992 election by stating that he intended to liberalize sexual practices by openly advocating gay marriage, mandatory teaching of young school children about the gay lifestyle, legalizing sodomy and doing away with age of consent laws, widening access to abortion to permit minors to have abortion on demand, confiscation of private citizens' firearms, truncation of religion to the point that the faithful were restricted to expressions in private only, restrictions on teaching children religion, and liberalizing divorce laws or taking them away from the states and federalizing them among other things, his candidacy would have been dead on arrival. To be clear, Bill Clinton was liberal, but by no means did he advocate such filthy debauchery. But many on the left hold a number if not all and more of these propositions as goals. And no legislature in America would pass them. But perhaps a liberal judge will.

The Constitution makes no provision for abortion, and per the 10th Amendment, the states made their own decisions on the matter. But in 1973, the Supreme Court changed all of that. Justice Blackmun writing for the Supreme Court in the case of Roe v. Wade pulled out of thin air (among other places) the Constitutional Right to abortion, giving the feminist movement its own personal right. There was no Constitutional basis for it, regardless of what the text of Roe said, but any reasonable person will agree that the left defends Roe like a mother bear defends her cubs. It was not law, but five unelected people made it so. In Lawrence v. Texas, they overturned their own prior decision of years before in Bowers v. Hardwick that states could criminalize sodomy. They recently pulled on foreign laws, philosophy and even psychology to illegalize the death penalty for minors, and they placed individual property rights subordinate to those of the government cooperating with private interests. It's legal because five people said it was. And other things will be too.

And in the new debate over filling Justice O'Connor's position, Charles Schumer (D-NY), Ted Kennedy (D-MA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Pat Leahy (D-VT), Harry Reid (D-NV), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) are all demanding a "unifying" judge. Meaning that they want a judge who will reflexively uphold Roe v. Wade and who will be willing to "grow" in office like Harry Blackmun, David Souter, John Paul Stevens, and possibly even Anthony Kennedy. They are prepared to demonize the president's pick without even knowing who that person is. Because they want law that will tilt their way and "grow" away from statutes that their own legislative branch passed which they do not like, in favor of judge made law that is likely to work in their direction.

The law that protects us is something to be "worked" for the Democrats and their leftist allies in the ACLU. It protects us. It infuriates them. Because they want us to be like them.

Just like with national security, law and order and legal integrity are issues that are losers for the Dems.

Morality and Values

The previous issue leads nicely into this one. The Democrats favor the liberal gay agenda of repealing sodomy laws (Lawrence took care of that), age of consent laws, state funded and unlimited abortions, even to minors with or without parental consent. They are tending more and more to be irreligious. Note last year's debate between John Kerry and the church of which he claims to be a member. The Catholic clergy of Massachusetts turned on Kerry because he rejects many of their teachings--just not their imprimatur of piety, as that gains votes. Howard Dean's favorite New Testament book is Job--much more easily located in the Old. I discussed their problem in the values department here. They don't lack values. They just have in abundance the wrong ones. And there is very little faking that. And it seems they know that, as they are even now discussing what values they want to hold as a party. Which is troubling, as these people are already officeholders. Might they have wanted to have this detail resolved before then? Or is it all about power?

And there is something in particular that strikes me as peculiarly perverted about a party whose most important value, the one that they defend more vigorously then any other, is the right of a woman to end an inconvenient pregnancy by dismembering and killing the unborn baby. It is strange that they picked this one as their defining issue. And it has defined them in the culture war.

Values are an equally losing battle for them.

Candor and Fair Play

Nobody likes a liar. Bill Clinton came to office promising a tax cut, which he broke in his first few days of office. He told us that he had no involvement in numerous scandals, but in the end, on the day before he left office, cut a deal to avoid prosecution. He wouldn't have done that if he thought he was innocent. He claimed that he never had sexual relations with Monica Lewinsky, but then a year later admitted that had done something "wrong" with her. It all depended upon what the meaning of "is" is. He smoked pot but didn't inhale. John Kerry voted to properly arm our solders in Iraq--before he voted against it. He released his entire military record, once some documents were removed. Harry Reid and the Democrats promised that they wouldn't filibuster any more judges except in "extraordinary circumstances" which means that a Supreme Court appointment that does not agree with their values is extraordinary. And just after that deal was inked, after Harry Reid promised Bill Frist that he would not do so, and while it was wholly unrelated, they filibustered John Bolton for the UN Ambassador position. The filibuster agreement was designed to do away with unnecessary partisan bickering. Instead, Reid filibustered because the "agreement" didn't really deal with Administrative nominees like Bolton. We can't believe a word they say.

Bush is a Nazi. I can't list the number of Hollywood leftists who have said that. But Dick Durbin (D-IL) likened our soldiers to them, the KGB and the Khmer Rouge too. Gitmo is a torture chamber. Bush lied soldiers died. Kerry said that Bush and Cheney were a dirty bunch of liars. And Howard Dean said...well...lots of things. Jimmy Carter, the aforementioned failed leader takes every opportunity to criticize the Bush Administration's efforts in the war on terror, accusing him of illegal acts. Michael Moore made a movie that went deeper into the malaria-infested fetid fever swamp of radical leftist conspiracy theory in his movie, Fahrenheit 9/11 which numerous Democrats lauded, earning him a spot in the presidential box at the Democrats' convention. The 1968 rioters would be proud.

Civility is gone. They divide us based on race, economic status and political ideology. And then they claim that we need unity.

They have lied to us, dodged the truth, and behaved like maniacs in their public statements. They have abandoned all reason and are openly coming unglued, to the delight of the very people they detract.

Candor is equally a losing issue.

The Dems are willing to blame America for the behavior of our enemies because they do not take seriously our value as a nation and the goodness that is America, not the importance of defending our interests and homeland. They believe that our money is theirs to take and spend as they see fit, and that we have to justify our earning it to them. They have no respect for our system of government or of separation of powers, because they want laws to agree with their political objectives, not laws that will be passed by the Congress as the Constitution prescribes, and they are fairly regularly soft on crime. They have values, but none resembling yours. And they'll tell you the truth, if it helps them.

This is not the honorable party of patriotic folk from the early 20th century. This has become the party of the baby boomer, flower child left who abandoned flip-flops and torn jeans for business suits. But as adults, they do an excellent job behaving like children. And it turns voters off.

That's what happened to the Democrats.


Blogger Elisa said...

That was well worth the wait! Great post!

9:12 AM  

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