It is a funny thing, power. In certain circumstances, the very nature of “Power” precludes its use. A great example was the cold war when the USSR and USA pointed thousands of uranium tipped long distance rocks at each other. To use that power was to lose it, and perhaps to lose everything.
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. The Democratic Party lost its soul. It started, really, with the Age of Reagan. He pointed out, repeatedly and sometimes accurately, that some of great society’s greatest victories had become tarnished and were in need of repair. Being a man with the axe, he took forty whacks and touched on programs that were both working and not. Bush 1 did not continue down Ronnie’s path, but he did not make things better, either. Clinton took a surprising turn, and by triangulating, he actually completed some of the work that Reagan had started. Social programs, NAFTA, and other disasters can be laid squarely on his shoulders. And yet, the Democrats (for the most part) remained quiet. Something was lost, some part of the soul, the heart, the vision, the hope and aspirations for the little guy, the idea that we are big enough to protect everyone – somehow that died during the Clinton years.
We deserved what came next. Really, we did. We did it to ourselves. The growth of conservative radio, the election of Bush the Wth. and the self-selection of Cheney stand in a league of their own. They were so bad, so mistrusted, and so inept, that until the blessing that was 9/11 (their blessing, not America’s) they were well on the path of irrelevancy and worse. But still, there were few or no liberal voices willing to stand up and take the heat. Those who did stand up on single issues became caricatures, sometimes even by our own leaders.
And then came the blessing of 9/11. Never has one event so crystallized this country. Never has one event, not even Pearl Harbor, done so much to save a failed presidency. Never did one event do so much to instill fear throughout one of the greatest countries in history.
Fear is a great tool, used properly, and the Rovian cabal in the White House jumped on that dog like a ravenous flea. “OH NO, it’s LEVEL ORANGE!” “Oh my, they are COMING AGAIN?” “Where oh where is my duct tape and plastic sheeting?”
Every time bad news came out, the level of fear-mongering rose. We were plucked, stroked, bowed and played like a well tuned Stradivarius. And still the liberals and moderates were quiet. Any voice of dissent was quickly equated with support of terrorism and being unpatriotic. Even if we knew in our hearts that something was wrong, terribly wrong, too many of us stayed quiet. And those few who did rise up were shot down faster than a lawyer hunting with the VP. Even those conservatives and GOPers who no longer recognized their party, were forced into submission. Recall that sad, disgusting scene when a thoroughly vile, craven, and evil faux religious man named Frist attacked and forced a sick, cancer-ridden senator Spector to apologize for speaking his mind and making the mistake of trying to be fair?
Now, that was power. The power of the neocons. The power to stomp on their own and to cut the legs out from any potential enemy.
The Democrats were so powerless, partly by design, and partly because they chose not to act, that Fermilab scientists seriously considered capturing that vacuum for use in their physics experiments. Keep the powder dry?
Yeah. That was a good plan.
Probably the most ingenious use of power took place not within the White House, and certainly not congress (where even the GOP leaders refused to uphold the constitution and their oaths) but within the orfice of one dick named Cheney. There was such a vacuum of power in Congress, that he could and did do anything he wanted. And with a distracted, lazy, and not fully engaged drunk like Bush the Wth, filling that obvious vacuum was a piece of cake. It was not that people did not notice. Many did. But, it seemed surreal, as though we were in some dream state, hypnotized by a street hawker while his associates robbed us blind.
Not only did Cheney reach for power, he achieved it and clearly abused it. He is, without a doubt, the most powerful man in America today. And unfortunately, there is still no one who can or will stand up to him, even to this day.
Then another funny thing happened on the way to the forum, the People woke up. Not all at once, not noticeably, not with any fanfare. It was not domestic spying, warrant-less invasions of homes, warrant-less detentions, warrant-less wiretaps, allegations of abuse and torture. It was not the arrogance of Bush/Cheney. It was not the abject destruction of our once Great Society. It was not the faith based initiatives. It was not the firing of military leaders who spoke truth to power. It was not the rising deaths, and the obvious cover-up of the clusterfuck we know as IraqNam. It was not the growing war-mongering as to Iran. It was not the incredible, consistent, and confounding failures of Condi Rice. It was not the tax cuts for the top 1% while 80% suffered greatly.
It was all of that and more. Yet again, the Democratic leadership remained quiet, quiescent and curiously ignorant.
The people woke up, shook off their nachtmare, and despite a concerted effort to suppress the election results, (which will not be fully understood for a generation) we threw the bums out. Not all of them, not enough of them, but it was a hell of a good start. And still the Democratic leadership remained rudderless, without spines and incapable of sitting up and taking notice.
The election of 2006 was the first, tiny, baby, stumbling step of a democracy practicing self-preservation. But we still need help before we can walk, then run.
At a time when the many high crimes and misdemeanors of our administration are making the front pages of even conservative papers, on a daily basis, where is the Democratic leadership? Where are those folks who swore to protect and defend our constitution and our country from foreign and DOMESTIC enemies?
Missing in action. And that is why we are in such trouble. They do not understand the concept of power. They refuse to investigate the crimes committed by this administration. They refuse to impeach. They refuse to grab the reins we put in their hands. They refuse to use the power we tried to given them.
Well, folks, we have one last opportunity to fix it. In 2008. Rather than one baby step, let’s go whole hog. Let us remove each and every incumbent from office, unless they personally and repeatedly prove to us that they earned the right to maintain their office. They exist: Durbin, Hagel, Lugar, Kuchinich, Waxman, Conyers, and a few others. But every person who says no to impeachment should be thrown out on his/her ass. Our country’s future is at stake and these bums are in our way.