Thursday, May 24, 2007

The second follow up to yesterday's rant, or how the Dems' deal could lose the '08 election

By caving in on the issue of funding the Iraq war, the Democrats in Congress just might have handed the '08 Presidential and Congressional elections to to the Republicans. Their cravenly conduct could very well cause one or more significant groups within the Democratic party to stop supporting the party, and that could spell defeat for the Democrats.

Sound crazy? Allow me to explain.

The far-left, hard core anti-war group has gained strength since the '06 election. More to the point, that part of the party has become increasingly vocal and assertive. Even more to the point, that part of the party was already becoming increasingly impatient, but now they are at the breaking point. And who can blame them? The far left folks have every reason to be livid with the Democratic caucus right now. As shown by my initial rant, I am also livid.

There are two basic reasons why the hard core anti-war folks are at the breaking point. First, the Democrats haven't done shit about the war. Second, as discussed in the previous post,
Many of (the Democrats) made Iraq the #1 issue in the midterm elections. After the Dems got slim majorities in both the House and Senate, many of them were saying "now we have a national mandate to change things in Iraq."
First of all, while Iraq was a big issue, the rampant corruption in the Republican party was also a huge issue in the '06 election, and so was the blatant hypocrisy of the Republican party. Second, by focusing exclusively on Iraq, the Democrats raised expectations among the nation in general and among the far-left wing of the Democratic party in particular. That portion of the party already felt like they had been perhaps the deciding factor in the election, and the Democrats' behavior after the election only strengthened that view.

Before proceeding, I have to say that I share many of the views of the hard core anti war crowd. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I vehemently oppose the Iraq war and that I have been very harsh in my criticism of Democrats regarding the war. My problem with the hard core anti-war crowd is one of approach, not objective. Their approach is extreme. Their approach is such that there is no room for any kind of compromise. To put it another way, I think we all know that there are some things that, once said, cannot be taken back or explained away--things that burn bridges to an irreparable degree. The hard core anti war crowd is very close to that point in my opinion. For many of them, getting out of Iraq immediately has become a rigid litmus test, much like abortion for some on the far right, and they are speaking out in a manner which reflects that. It is an extreme position.

Taking extreme positions filled with righteous indignation and scorn is not going to win the election in '08. While I feel this applies to both parties, I think it applies more to the Democrats. I have been saying since 2003 that in order for Democrats to win the Presidency, they must get Republicans to vote for a Democrat. The extreme approach will not get that done.

However, the Democrats also cannot afford to lose any votes they received in '06, and now there is a real possibility of alienating the far-left anti-war group, and their numbers are such that the Democrats likely could not overcome such an occurrence.

At this point, trying to keep this group in the party is going to be a challenge. Trust has been breached in a big way with this group, and the Democrats in Congress have only themselves to blame. To revisit an analogy I used earlier, the Democrats in Congress have basically said they are not going to do anything to oppose Bush, and they are going to have a damn hard time trying to take that back.

However, Democrats in office and running for President also cannot pander to the far-left anti-war group, because that could very well lead to the loss of support from the moderates and centrists in the party.

Whether people like it or not (and regardless of what the Republicans say), the Democratic party is no longer full of the traditional "bleeding heart, tax and spend, big government, entitlement" types. The Democratic party now has lots of people who want a rational, reasonable alternative to the power-hungry, hypocritical, elitist bullshit that the GOP has been shoveling out for years. I count myself among them. As a party, the Democrats have to realize that a move toward the center is necessary. The Democrats have complained that the GOP is controlled by extremists, and the Democratic party has to avoid that situation. If the Democrats now even talk like they are going to appease fully the anti-war group, I am telling everyone right now that they will lose the votes of many moderates and centrists. That will leave the door open for some teflon-esque, double-talking Republican (Romney or Giuliani, for example) to sway those votes in the general election.

The Democrats need the votes of the following groups to win in '08: the moderate and centrist Democrats, some Republicans, AND the far-left anti-war Democrats. Impossible, you say? Well, it is certainly looking that way now. By absolutely caving this week, the Democrats have come close to causing an irreparable breach of trust with the anti-war group. Any repair might come at a very steep price, namely catering greatly to the anti-war crowd, and that will likely cost the Democrats any Republican votes and a significant number of moderate Democratic votes.

And this brings me back to a theme I expressed yesterday. You see, it did not have to come to this. If the Democrats had held their ground, if they had backed up their tough talk with similar action, they could have gone to the anti-war group and said, "We tried. We knew we could not override a veto, but at least we tried." That might have helped keep the anti-war group in the fold. If the Democrats had passed a bill at least two months ago, that would have left them with enough time to still come up with other alternatives so that they could tell moderate Democrats and Republicans, "We are trying to present alternatives and yet we are not going to leave the troops in the lurch." And they could have gone to the entire country and showed that the real problems would be Bush and the Republicans. They could have gone to the country and showed that they were trying to act in accordance with what a majority of people have expressed.

And they could have gone to people like me (and I believe I am only one of a large group) and shown that they are not a bunch of spineless dumbasses who either 1) wouldn't know how to get out of a room full of open doors and windows, or 2) wouldn't want to get out because of what might be waiting in plain view for them once they got out.


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