Now for a few deathless words about politics.
First, last weekend I spent a bit of time reading a long article in the New Yorker about the Democrats’ chances in November. The author was a good writer named Jeffrey Goldberg. He, like everyone else, says the Democrats have a real chance to win back the House of Representatives and start subpoenaing everyone at the Bush White House. But, he says, the Democrats have a few problems.
Basically, the core groups of the Democratic Party like abortion and think it’s no big deal. Most Americans disagree, and a large number disagree with all of their hearts and souls. Basically, the core groups of the Democratic Party hate the notion of private citizens owning firearms and want strict gun control. A very large number of Americans disagree, and some disagree strongly. The core of the Democratic Party wants to tax the middle class and upper middle class more and give the money to the teachers’ unions. (This last about the teachers’ union is my interpretation.) But many Americans like lower taxes.
What Jeffrey Goldberg quotes a number of American Democrat activists as saying at the end of the article is this: Yes, we know what is best to make Americans perfect. Make them like abortion, hate guns, and love taxes. But Americans are imperfect. They like babies, like to be able to protect their homes, and don’t like taxes. To win the election, say Goldberg and his sources (I’m summarizing here), the Democrats have to discipline themselves to accept the imperfections of Americans and pretend to go along with them.
I actually started to laugh when I read that part. No wonder Karl Rove can keep pulling out these victories. If the other side really thinks it’s an “imperfection” to dislike partial birth abortion or to want to be able to shoot a rapist or to keep more of the money you make, then Republicans are going to keep on winning elections.
BUT, and this is a huge but, the Republicans have to stand for something. Right now, they are rudderless, drifting, cringing, completely unable to come up with a meaningful statement of what they believe.
It is time for a conference of the party gurus to convene and decide what the party stands for.
I would call it a sort of second Contract With America, only this time not written by the trade association for the big accounting firms.
Here are a few of the points such a declaration might include:
* Unequivocal support for our fighting men, including those accused of misconduct in Iraq up until they are found guilty by an impartial court. Drastic upgrading of military pay. A commitment to treat the families of the military like gold.
* Ironclad opposition to the taking of innocent life by abortion and euthanasia except in the most extreme and rare cases.
* The harshest penalties for those profiteering from the war in any way.
* A clear statement that the party stands with the savers and investors and families of the nation and against the looters and self-dealing, self-serving, wildly overpaid CEO’s who steal far more from their stockholders with a fountain pen than Dillinger ever stole with a pistol.
* An energy policy that does not mock and victimize the people who work like demons to bring us energy, namely the oil company employees, does not punish them for bringing us oil, and at the same time keeps them under constant scrutiny for price fixing. An energy policy that puts getting to work and doing a job ahead of groundless fears of pollution of beaches and landscapes.
* A retirement security policy that makes it a national priority to teach Americans of the jeopardy they face unless they get serious about saving in stocks, annuities, bonds, and every other responsible venue for saving.
* A thorough examination of how we treat patients in pain, with a view to a halt to punishing them by denying them the medicines they need to get through their lives without pain or humiliation.
* A serious effort to protect our ports and borders from terrorist threats.
* A complete stop to anything at all that resembles forced busing or the redrawing of school district lines to compel students to attend one school or another on the basis of race.
* An agonizing reappraisal of whether we should be in Iraq at all.
* A defense policy that truly allows us to defend ourselves against the Islamic threat in fact and not just on paper.
These are just a few ideas. There are, I am sure, many, many others that make sense. But let’s stand for something.
The idea of a House of Representatives dominated by a hatchet-wielding Nancy Pelosi, the Madame Defarge of the 21st century, is blood curdling. Let’s do something about it. Our party does not believe that love of life and love of family are “imperfections,” so we have a good starting place. Let’s move on from there to a thorough explanation of what we stand for and why it makes sense. The easy days are over.