Being Fair To Democrats
by Chris Bowers, Wed Sep 27, 2006 at 11:36:35 AM EDT
Progressives like to pride ousrselves on being fair to people. We pride ourselves on keeping an open mind, and not rushing to judgment. We pride ourelves on working for a better world. We certainly pride ourselves on not stereotyping entire groups of people based on the actions of a few people who belong to that group (such as, say labeling all Latinos as illegals or labeling all Muslims terrorists). Considering this, it never ceases to frustrate me how progressives frequently show none of these positives attributes when it comes to talking about the Democratic Party.
Many progressives habitually argue that the Democratic Party is complicit with a wide range of right-wing legislation, even though the majority--usually the vast majority--of the Democratic Party was opposed to, worked against, and voted against that legislation. Here are some examples from the 109th Senate:
- By a vote of 25-18, Democrats in the Senate opposed the Bankruptcy bill. By a vote of 31-13, they favored a filibuster of the bill.
- By a vote of 37-7, Democrats in the Senate opposed CAFTA.
- By a vote of 42-1, Democrats opposed re-authorizaiton of the Patriot Act in its 2001 form.
- By a vote of 41-3, Democrats voted against the confirmation of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Democrats voted 25-18 in favor of filibustering Alito.
- Democrats voted 26-18 against restricting class action lawsuits.
- Democrats voted 40-4 in favor of a timetable for Iraq withdrawal.
- All but two Senate Democrats opposed privatizing Social Security.
- Democrats voted 24-20 against the energy bill conference report. They also voted 41-3 against drilling in the Arctic Refuge.
- In the Senate, Democrats also defeated the Bolton nomination, the repeal of the estate tax, and right-wing immigration legislation. They also passed stem cell research legislation.
However, that is exactly what we repeatedly see from a wide range of progressives. We hear that Democrats are complicit with Republican policies because a minority of Democrats are complicit with some of those policies. I have heard that accussation form multiple sources when it comes to every piece of legislation I listed above. We are hearing it again on the torture bill, which is a terrible bill, but which many Democrats, if not most, are speaking out against. Yet I am sure we will continue to hear form many "progressives" that Democrats in general are summed up by the actions taken by a minority of Democrats. Just like, I suppose, how African-Americans are all criminals because some of them are.
Progressives need to be fair to Democrats, the majority of whom have come to side with progressives on virtually everything. Don't blame Democrats in general for rolling over to Republicans--blame the minority who regularly do that, and name their names. When you are talking about how my party is supposedly rolling over to the Republicans, please leave me (I am a Democratic Party official now) and the majority of Democrats out of your rants. We are actually the only people fighting Republicans in Congress. Restrict your blame to the Democrats who are sucking at any given moment. When you talk about the Democratic leadership, you might also want to specify which members of the leadership are not progressive enough. Do you mean Howard Dean too? Do you mean Nancy Pelosi, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus? Speaking of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which is the only Democratic House caucus that is actually expanding in size and which is positioned to take over half of the committees in the House if Democrats take over, you might want to specify that those Democrats are not who you are talking about either.
Over the past four or five days, we have finally regained the momentum in this election. It had been trending Republican for about three weeks before that. Our chances to take over the House are very, very real, and in the Senate progressives have some major incoming allies such as Bernie Sanders, Ned Lamont, Jon Tester, Sherrod Brown, Amy Klobuchar, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Don't voluntarily throw away our momentum and the chances of these great candidates because you are upset with a minority of the Democratic Party on this torture bill. Be a progressive instead. Realize that the majority of the Democratic Party is on your side on virtually everything, and don't stereotype. Realize that you can continue to work to change the Democratic Party for the better, as we have in many ways these past four years. Place blame where it belongs rather than making unfair, blanket statements. My party--and I have no qualms about saying that it is my party--is the progressive party, and we have our best chance to retake Congress in six years.
Now, with that said, keep making calls against this horrendous torture bill. Find your Senators, and give them a ring. It is particularly useful for Democrats to remember where the majority of their own party stands on an issue.
Update: Case in point, Democrats in the House just voted 160-34 against this bill. Not perfect by any means, but the Democratic Party is clearly on our side on this bill. Repulbicans voted 219-7 in favor, and are clearly on the wrong side.