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Commentary :: Politics
The Vile and Self-Defeating Betrayal That is Bipartisanship
24 May 2005
The Democrats finally had a plan to put a wrench in the Republican juggernaut—a shutdown of the Senate. And what did they do? Let a bunch of sell-out DLC-types blow it with a bi-partisan compromise that will just put more right-wing judges on the appellate bench.
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When a wolf and a fox agree on a modus vivendi, the rabbits and woodchucks had better be on their guard.
The same is true about the March 23 agreement reached by 14 “moderate” Democratic and Republican Senators which undermined the looming confrontation between Senate Democrats and Republicans over the issue of judicial appointments and the filibuster.
Anytime you have someone like Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), a cheerleader for the War on Iraq, a stalwart backer of the worst Zionist excesses of the Israeli state, and a man who even endorsed former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s horrific Operation TIPS citizen spy scheme, lining up with Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a guy who headed up the House impeachment campaign against President Bill Clinton, a staunch conservative in moderate clothing (like his over-rated colleague John McCain) who opposes abortion rights and boasts a 5% rating from the League of Conservation Voters, progressives need to worry.
And what’s with this fear of political polarization anyhow? It’s really nothing but a media creation.
Newspaper editors and pundits love to talk about the need for “bi-partisanship” and cooperation as though such comity were an unambiguous public good. Yet it is precisely such bipartisanship that brought us the war in Iraq, the Patriot Act, the North American Free Trade Act, welfare cutbacks, the Anti Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the new anti-bankruptcy law, and which threaten to bring us a mortally weakened Social Security “reform,” and who knows? Maybe a war on Iran or Syria.
And for once, the Democrats had a good, militant plan—a shut down of the Senate. Ordinary Americans and especially progressives should have been fine with that: A shut-down Senate would mean a Senate that couldn’t pass Bush’s troglodyte social agenda, couldn’t pass more tax handouts to corporations and the rich, couldn’t pass a Central American Free Trade bill. No wonder the Republicans were upset.
Sure, if the Democrats took a hard-line confrontational approach to the dominant Republicans in House and Senate they’d eventually lose on a lot of things, including the appointment of judges with right-wing agendas. But by standing for principle, Democrats would be paving the way for serious election campaigns on important issues in 2006 and 2008. They'd be rallying the electorate to fight back against the Republican-led campaign to drag the country backwards to the 19th century in economic, environmental and social policy.
But instead of going with militancy and sticking it to the conservatives, people like Lieberman and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) are paving the way for further electoral defeats for Democrats in the coming election cycles.
By lining up with Republicans on compromises that end up selling out principle (the filibuster agreement will result in the approval, with Democratic acquiescence, of several truly dreadful new appellate judges), Democrats confuse and demoralize their potential electoral base.
By demonstrating that Democrats are no better than Republicans—indeed no different from Republicans—they turn elections into nothing but issueless personal popularity contests, in which most citizens have little or no interest. In fact, their bipartisanship may actually be helping Republicans, because at least those so-called “moderate” Republicans like Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) or Olympia Snowe (R-ME) or John McCain (R-AZ) are showing the spine to buck their President and party leadership in reaching agreement with so-called moderate Democrats.
All the so-called moderate Democrats are showing is political cowardice and lack of principle.
The idea that this kind of Democratic sell-out would be happening when the president is being viewed by a majority of the public as inept, untrustworthy, stupid and politically out of touch, is both astonishing and depressing.

For the rest of this column or for other articles by Dave Lindorff, go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net
See also:
http://www.thiscantbehappening.net

This work is in the public domain
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