The "under God" lawsuit in, I think, California a few years ago was brought by a private citizen, and ruled on by a judge. It was not a ballot initiative by the Democratic party. The same with the school prayer issue in the '60s and '70s -- schools were forced to obey the Constitution by courts, not by organized left-wing political crusaders.
Putting "under God" in the pledge was a Republican political stunt in the 1950s. The anti-flag-burning amendment is a perennial Republican political stunt.
They are the ones who are making these things into political issues. It's not that America is being "secularized", it's that they are trying to de-secularize it.
And by the way, besides the important civic arguments against this kind of claptrap, there are some very solid RELIGIOUS arguments against it too.
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
-- Matthew 6:5-6 (NIV)
And the original argument for separation of church and state:
Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
BONUS ROUND: Here's a religious argument against posting the Ten Commandments in government bulidings!
What well-known religious text advises against this sort of thing? None other than the Ten Commandments themselves! Specifically, the first and second Commandments (or first, second, and third Commandments, if you accept the revisionist Protestant reading):
"You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."
--Deuteronomy 5:8-11 (NIV)
The core teachings of Christianity, as laid out by Jesus, are heavily focused on attacking hypocrisy, especially religious hypocrisy. It's always amazing to me how so many Christians seem to utterly and completely miss this point. All you have to do is read the Gospels to get it. But human beings of all stripes have an immense talent for overlooking the obvious.
It's impressive to see a union able to bring this great city almost to a halt. As much as it has inconvenienced me personally, I feel heartened to know that workers, organizing independently, still have this much power.
When I've seen interviews with transit workers, most of them are wholeheartedly behind the strike. Others say, "I wish our leadership had stayed at the bargaining table a little longer." But they also say, "We elected them to fight for us, and they're doing what they need to do -- and we support them."
This is what organized labor is all about: putting your trust in your fellow workers to fight for all of us. Is it inconvenient for average New Yorkers? Sure. It's even more inconvenient for transit workers who are being docked 2 days' pay for each 1 day they're off the job.
They are sacrificing... for the idea that things SHOULDN'T get gradually worse and worse for each new generation of workers. Roger Toussaint said, "We will not give up our unborn." That is a noble principle, and I applaud the TWU for standing up for it.
Count me as one more NYer that supports the strike.
I had to walk about a mile total and take the East River water taxi and the PATH train today. But the TWU are doing what they have to do.
What angers me are people who say, "I don't even have a pension. Why should the transit workers get one at age 55?"
That is the mentality of sheep -- of servants who have been conditioned to love being kicked around, and to pull down any one who tries to demand better. It's a slave mentality, frankly.
No, most of us don't have pensions. My company (a large specialty publishing and information firm) stopped giving its workers pensions a few years before I started there. So because corporate (and government) America is shafting many of its workers, all the others should get the shaft too?
Being a transit worker can involve dangerous, filthy, deafening conditions, hostile customers, and long and grueling hours. Retiring at 55 is not unreasonable.
Oh, and the MTA would have the cash to meet its pension obligations if Pataki and co. in Albany hadn't been raiding the budget for the last several years.
The main reason Dems are perceived as "partisan" is because Republicans ceaselessly refer to EVERYTHING Democrats do as "partisan" and "playing politics".
When your enemy is hitting you hard with a character-oriented smear like this, one good tactic is to muddy the waters -- fling the same epithet back at them. This is one of the easiest accusations to make, and frankly, it's honestly applicable to almost everything the GOP does these days.
Dems can and should start making this charge against Republicans.
Of course, I'm assuming that:
Establishment Democrats even recognize that Republicans are their enemies, and are truly committed to total victory over them by almost any means necessary;
Establishment Dems are capable of responding to this threat with sound and effective tactics and strategy.
Aside from Dean (who recognizes the threat) and Reid (who is a pretty good tactician) I don't have much hope.
The single most shocking fact of our political system is that for the past decade, the beltway Democrats have been face to face and toe to toe with an aggressive, partisan GOP, and have watched that party win almost total power in Washington with an attack-dog, take-no-prisoners attitude -- and yet the Dems have neither learned from nor emulated it.
If I had a million dollars, I'd buy a billboard in D.C. and put that on it.