Q: When is a Democrat not a Democrat?
A: When a Democrat is a United States Senator.
Yesterday, 18 Democratic senators slithered across the aisle (again) as the Senate voted 68 to 29 to bless and broaden the odious practice of spying on U.S. citizens. Making a list and checking it twice. Protecting America from the murderous infidels by illegally wiretapping communications. Illegal? Eh, pesky detail.
We all know it’s generally easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. The problem is that BushCo never asks for either. They do what they damn well please, because Congress has repeatedly ceded its Constitutional role as a co-equal third of the United States government. That arcane checks and balances thingie.
Over the past few years, multiple telecommunications companies have given BushCo their records and access to client information. Without judicial review. At the pleasure of the White House. AT&T, Verizon, Cingular, and Bell South, for starters.
Yesterday’s Senate legislation effectively tells the telecoms, “Hey, that’s okay. You were doing your patriotic duty!” It also gives them carte blanche to continue by granting them immunity for what they’re doing, i.e., invading individuals’ privacy. Sidestepping the judicial and legislative “co-equal” branches of the government. Which is SOP for BushCo.
The most recent Dem sell-outs (most of them repeaters): Bayh, Inouye, Johnson (South Dakota), Landrieu, McCaskill, Ben Nelson, Bill Nelson, Stabenow, Feinstein, Kohl, Pryor, Rockefeller, Salazar, Carper, Mikulski, Conrad, Webb, and Lincoln. BTW, Obama voted against immunity. Hillary Clinton didn’t vote.
Okay, I do talk out of both sides of my angry mouth. I know I have been extremely critical of elected officials who vote in lockstep with BushCo. (Think Coleman and Kline, locally.) My criticism of Democrats is rooted in my belief that anything the Dems offer or oppose is bound to be an improvement over what the GOP throws at us. Far as I remember. It’s been a long time since Dems made a significant difference, 2006 promises notwithstanding.
Given that our “leadership” treats the people who elected them like so many ignorant lamblets, we are condemned to live in the valley of the shadow of the Senate.
I would remind you that a fundamental tenet of progressives is that we say we believe the people can be trusted with the truth. Frankly, I’m fed up and rising with the “well, you know, we couldn’t win it anyway, so we released some senators to vote in a way that will protect them when their names are on the ballot again” meme. Fah! That’s a convenient and manipulative dodge. Furthermore, it renders the slitherers enormously suspect. It says to me that there are Dems in the Senate who put personal ambition ahead of principle. Yeah, I know. Shocking.
So on the heels of their colossal capitulation yesterday, I got a broadcast email from “Give ‘em hell Harry” (Reid). It’s a yea, rah rah piece about ending torture. In principle, a consummation devoutly to be wish’d. In the hands of the Democrats in the Senate, who knows?
In a fit of pique, I penned a quick response to Reid, to wit:
For one full year, Democrats have waited eagerly for our newly elected Senators to represent us well and fully. To be our voice, speaking against the outrageous and egregious acts and actions, failures to act, lies and abominations perpetrated on the United States and the global community by the George W. Bush administration.
As recently as today, the Senate failed again. Failed to herd its sheep in opposition to the FISA action that effectively lets telecoms off the hook for their illegal and immoral cave-in to the George W. Bush administration.
Sir, with all due respect, I am fed up and rising with generally wishy-washy waffling and caving of the United States Senate. I am perilously close to being ashamed to be a Democrat. I sure as hell can’t be a Republican. So that doesn’t leave many options, does it?
The main thing that separates progressives from elephants is that progressives trust the people with the truth. Progressives believe in transparency. Progressives believe in making progress. Measurable progress. Progressives believe in accountability. Ergo, progressive elected officials are accountable to the people who elected them.
There appears to be a paucity of genuine, stiff spines in the Democratic Congress. Now you may argue that is not so. I am simply telling you how it looks and feels out here in voter land. That old “perception is reality” thing. And in the absence of transparency, the perception is not positive. Not at all.
I believe it is time for Democratic Senators to start leveling with their/your constituents. To explain to us why there is such a massive pile-up of legislative failures (i.e., that which goes George W. Bush’s way). Why? Because that’s what we elected you to do. Because I’m not the only one who’s fed up and rising. Because the failures put House and Senate majorities at risk, and threaten to undermine the effort to replace George W. Bush with a Democrat.
Show us spine. Show us legislative victories. Show us something. Please.
I wish that made me feel better. It doesn’t. Reid won’t see it. And I will get a canned response, patting me on my pretty little lamblet head and telling me to leave it in their capable hands.
Have been. Not working very well.
George Lakoff says this: “America needs to renew its moral vision.” That’s not just a slogan. It’s a mandate. Anyone in Congress listening? Just askin'.