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The Tally Ho

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

A Couple Thoughts on the State of Politics

First, I thought the dKos post about the wingnuts wanting to kick us blue states out was classic. As my roommate says, “go ahead, let us see how your economy looks without the West coast and Northeast.” After all, who is going to pay for their federal government? It seems to me that most of the patron states are blue or purple.

Second, as I was battling sleep Monday night, I flipped through the right wing cable news roll call. It was filled with talk about denying Senator Specter of his long sought after chairmanship by right wing pressure. Also on was Joe Scarborough talking about how the New York Times and the liberal intelligentsia are intolerant and patronizing of evangelical Christians and their issues (“values”). I thought of Elwood’s post, but also thought about what my issues were. But before that I have a few thoughts on the moderate and liberal Republicans no longer having a home. The pending denial of Sen. Specter’s Chair – or at least the attempt to make him a yes man of the right wing. Republicans use to say they believe in fiscal discipline and in personal freedom, do they even say that anymore?

Much has been talked about Lincoln Chafee’s struggle with leaving the Republican Party or not. It cannot be an easy choice. With the Senate 55-45 in favor of his current party, he will be going from the majority to minority. This does not help his issues or those of Rhode Island – and the Senior Senator is also a Democrat. As it has been pointed out, he is probably more liberal than many of his Democratic colleagues, but he is a Republican from another time. Because of the number difference, he will not get the deal Sen. Jeffords was given by former minority leader Daschle. So where is the incentive? The Chafee name in Rhode Island is said to be enough to be re-elected as whatever he wants. If the Republicans run a wingnut against him in the primary, he probably overcomes it. If not, he can run as an independent and win statewide vote. But there is no incentive to run as an independent when the Republican and Democratic machines will be importing money into Rhode Island to challenge him. Could he raise enough money in a small state like Rhode Island to cover the cost of a Senate run? Could he lose to a Patrick Kennedy in a one on one competition? Sure, but it won’t be easy. What about Olympia Snowe of Maine who will be a Senator until she decides when she is done? In defense of these two, where is the benefit in switching at this moment? It is not close in the Senate – and it won’t change the way they vote. Susan Collins is probably more vulnerable and what if Senator Specter is ousted?

Whether these described moderates become independents or Democrats is not the real concern. The real concern is that they are the past. That the House of Representatives only had around 35 competitive races and the expulsion of moderates within the Republican Party will eventually cause them to over reach their hand because there is little stopping them. Freshman elect Senators are not supporting Sen. Specter, who is about to start his fifth term says it all. So do you really think that Senators Chafee, Collins, Snowe, and even Specter will be heard?

But what about the youth? Let us call this 35 and under. This is a mix of second half xers and early neo-boomers (or generation brand or yers). It is this age group that is being injured and dying in Iraq. It is this group that is twice as likely to not have health care. It is this group who has seen their education and health care costs consistently increase at the same time they are looking for work, or better work in a soft job market. It is this group that will have to pay for the debt caused by tax cut mania. It is this group that is shouldering the burden in Iraq and the cost of the conservative movement under President Bush. Who is there to represent their interests and their quest to be able to provide their children with what was provided to them? Meanwhile the media cycles have been dominated by the power of evangelical Christians and voter “values”, Arlen Specter’s probable demise, Lincoln Chafee’s uneasy relationship with the modern GOP and the how intolerant the liberal intelligentsia is – it is all drama and more cultural war.

I am still registered as an independent though my “values” are mostly Democratic issues now, I guess (as Teresa Heinz Kerry said, “I haven’t changed, the Republican Party has.”) – you know like strong public schools, health care for all, protecting me and my neighbors civil liberties from a government that seems to desire more authority, not leaving the next generation with a “birth tax”, leaving the next generation with clean air and water, and making sure my fellow Americans have a proper social safety net for when times get rough. I don’t feel that I need, and shouldn’t have to have a political party to identify with in seeking my agenda. But this does not seem like reality right now. Sitting around being one of those critics who say “Democrats only suck less” probably gives a nice wiff and feeling of superiority, but it is just an easy way out. It is like watching a building burn down and instead of grabbing a bucket and helping out, standing there and commenting that a fire truck would be better than buckets of water – as if this is some revolutionary idea previously never thought of. So where do we go from here? Can we turn to the Republicans to make sure our money isn’t wasted or protecting us from deficit spending? Nope. Can we turn to the Republicans to not over extend the military and only enter wars of necessity with our allies? Nope. Can we turn to the Republicans to protect our civil liberties or our environment? Nope. So I guess we have to push for the alternative. I hope the moderates aren’t totally purged in Washington. I like having Senators Chafee, Snow, Collins, Breaux, and other “moderates”. After all you can’t be a progressive without having progress, and you won’t have progress without compromise and consensus. Being right and feeling good doesn't make you a "progressive".


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