Monday, February 07, 2005

A transformative president (Part II) A transformative president (Part II)

The other side of Mr. Barone's article :A transformative president is that Mr. Bush and the Republicans are playing offense, while the Democrats are playing defense.

I think that you can see this in the fact that the Republicans are pushing agendas and the Democrats are fighting them, tooth and nail, regardless of whether it is better or worse for them in the long run.

Many, esp. on the left, have blamed this on the evil genius, Karl Rove. But I think that it is really a symptom of something much greater, and he is just there to exploit this weakness of the Democrats.

Lets take a couple of issues.

- Social Security reform. Bill Clinton was in favor. But now the Republicans have coopted it. One of the few bright demographic successes for the Democrats was with the youngest voters. And these are precisely those who most believe that Social Security, as it exists today, won't be there for them when they retire. They face a lifetime of supporting those ahead of themselves, with little, if anything, of benefit for them in the end.

So, if a party were seriously interested in this vote, which side of Social Security reform should it be on right now?

- Gay Marriage. I, personally, am coming around, thanks to Eugene Volokh (volokh.com) to granting gays at least some of the benefits of marriage, in, for example, civil unions.

That said, a significant majority of the people in this country oppose gay marriage. And if you go into the minority communities, esp. the Black communities, this opposition skyrockets. And yet, the Democrats, by and large, are going to oppose Mr. Bush's attempts to rein it in.

Again, if a party were seriously interested in these demographic groups, which side of the gay marriage issue should they be on?

- School choice (vouchers, etc.). My daughter is in an excellent private school that sends 100% of its students to college, many to the best colleges in the country. It costs, but my ex and I believe it is worth it.

But many, if not most, are denied this option through economics. $15k to $20k a year, per kid. Yet, the inner city school systems are failing. In the Denver Post yesterday was an article indicating that half of its 8th graders won't graduate on time (if ever). Half.

Imagine that you are a minority parent earning a modest income in an inner city. And you know that education is the passport for your childrens' success. Yet, the local public school are only graduating half of their students on time? If only, you could do like Bruce and send your kids to a private school. But you can't. You can't afford it. And then, the Republicans come along and push means based (so that they won't apply, for example, to me) vouchers, etc. And the Democrats fight this, tooth and nail.

So, if a party were seriously interested in this demographic group, which side of this issue should it be on?

- Faith Based Initiatives. Ditto, esp. for the Black and Hispanic communities, which are, by far, some of the most ferverently religious segments of our population.

- Abortion. Partial Birth Abortion is brutal, late term, murder of the fetus. A good OB/Gyn could typically emergency C-Section the mother in a matter of minutes instead, turning that fetus into a baby with rights.

I have a daughter. The only medical care that she can get without knowledge of at least one of her parents concerns reproduction, and the only surgery that can be legally done on her without the knowledge or permission of one of us, is an abortion. Period.

And yet, abortions are highest in the minority communities, esp. the African-American communities. Add to this that this is one of the most faith based demographics in our country. Not surprisingly, you occasionally hear some of them term abortion as "racial genocide".

Yet again, the Democrats have painted themselves into a circle. Sure, a good majority prefer legal availability of some abortion. But what is at issue here are the extreme forms, and an even greater majority oppose them.

- Israel. How can the Democrats hope to hold on to the Jewish vote while opposing Mr. Bush in his support of Israel?

- Iraq, etc. We are, of course, at war. Americans naturally rally around the flag at such times. While many Democrats give lip service to backing the troops while criticizing the Administration's conduct of the war, harping on Abu Graib, etc. pretty much says just the opposite to the military and any one else really watching.

And then, how can an American, esp. one from a party titled "Democratic", oppose giving democracy to the Iraqis and Afghanis? If you listen to what many Democrats say, no price is too low. (I should paraphrase the appropriate JFK quote here).

Which is more noble, spending what it takes to bring demoracy to the Middle East? Or bringing our troops home right now, with the job undone? (esp. in view of Vietnam, when our pullout ended up costing millions of lives there and in Cambodia).

Again, if a party were seriously interested in being on the high ground and doing something noble with our immense resources, which side of this war should it be on right now?

My point throughout here is that the Democrats have, by and large, taken untenable positions, esp. in view of winning future elections, almost solely, I believe, in order to oppose Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bush and the Republicans are the ones playing offense right now. They are the ones deciding what issues to push and which ones to ignore. And to a very great extent, the issues they are picking are those guaranteed to cause the most damage to the Democrats, if opposed by the later. And the Democrats are walking right into it, automatically fighting whatever battles the Republicans pick.

The Democrats are not going to start winning again until they start playing offense, and they can't do that until they find something to stand for besides being against Mr. Bush.

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