No More Mr. Nice Democrat

The problem with us Democrats in general is that we play by gentlemen’s rules.

What dopes! What morons! No wonder we seem to be a declining party. Large numbers of Republicans may not believe in evolution, but they certainly believe in natural selection in the present. They are predators, devoid of civility and any sense of fairness. Did it bother Sen. Tom DeLay one bit to try to reapportion congressional seats in Texas in 2003, even though it had never been done before? Not at all. While those “play by the rules” weenie Democrats whined, he pressed Gov. Rick Perry of Texas to reapportion congressional seats again. Traditionally states do it every ten years based on the latest census results. Democratic members of the Texas legislature tried delaying tactics by taking up temporary residences in hotels in New Mexico. In response DeLay called the Department of Homeland Security to have their flights tracked. Eventually of course the Democrats had to go home. Once home the state legislature reached a quorum, the bill was rammed through both houses and Perry gleefully and without one moral qualm signed the bill into law.

Did Attila the Hun ask permission before invading and pillaging all those cities and countries? Of course not. Those with the power and the means make the rules. Charge ahead. When you control all three branches of government the likelihood of paying a price is low anyhow. The good news is that Republicans don’t usually kill or maim people in the process these days. They just roll over the rest of us like a steamroller. Perhaps that’s why they admire Israel so much. The Israeli solution to the settlements issue is to keep creating facts on the ground. The rule of law is for weenies. What matters is whether you can get away with it. If you can then it must be okay, is how Republicans apparently see things.

Liberals are morally squishy? Hardly. Republicans are far more morally squishy than Democrats could ever hope to be. It seems Republicans were born with dichotomy in their brains. Liberals who support a woman’s right to choose do so knowing if a woman chooses abortion that the embryo or fetus is killed in the process. Most of us recognize the Hobbesian choice. We are not entirely comfortable with our position. On the other hand it’s not a problem at all for a Republican to be both antiabortion and pro death penalty. State sponsored murder is perfectly okay. And everyone has complete freedom except of course when they find it personally disagreeable. So for those women who operate under the illusion that they control their own bodies, Republicans decide they must choose for them. However that certainly doesn’t mean they will also pay the costs of rearing these unwanted children. I mean, that would be socialism or something.

And on most other issues Republican say one thing and do completely the opposite. They say they want smaller government, but keep expanding the size of government. They say they are against payola but hand it out to their friends. Remember the Contract with America? How many of these congressmen and women elected in 1994 are still in the Congress, despite vows going in on the importance of term limits? Line item veto? Gone. It became politically expedient to do away with it when Clinton wielded it. Fiscal responsibility? Don’t make me laugh. This year alone deficits are expected to be over $400 billion dollars. Personal responsibility? Okay for others, but not for Congress and, oh, red states apparently get a lot more federal dollars than blue states. Laws are still routinely passed that exempt Congress from their provisions. They can’t even get into a war without double checking their intelligence. Their ideas of personal responsibility are charge up our credit cards to the max and pass the debt on to our grandchildren.

If there was excitement a couple years back with Howard Dean’s run for president it was because, finally, there was a Democrat willing to retire fire. Dean is no namby pamby wishy washy liberal. In fact, he’s not a liberal at all. While governor of Vermont he was far more fiscally conservative than any Republican you can point to in Congress.

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery. The reason Democrats rallied around Dean was not because our party is suffering. We rallied around him because we know he won’t let Democrats get pushed around anymore. If Republicans insist on playing on their rules the Democrats will finally learn that game. And the signs are out there that we are beginning to wake out of our dogmatic slumbers. Where we have political power, and there are plenty of blue states, it is time to use it. Republicans apparently are now trying to redistrict Republican Georgia out of turn. We learn today that Democrats like House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer are realizing two can play this game:

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has spoken with several Democratic governors in recent weeks about the possibility of revisiting their states’ Congressional lines in response to the ongoing Republican-led redistricting in Georgia, according to informed party sources.

Faced with the prospect of Republicans redrawing Congressional lines in a third state since the initial 2001 round of redistricting ended, a faction of national Democrats is urging an aggressive strategy aimed at striking back at Republican House Members in states like New Mexico and Illinois.

“We have to stop playing defense and go on the offensive,” said Howard Wolfson, who served as executive director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee during the 2002 cycle and is now a consultant with the Glover Park Group.

“The only way to stop them from doing this is to make them pay a price for it somewhere else,” said a longtime House strategist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Democrats believe their best opportunities lie in Illinois, New Mexico and Louisiana, where Democrats have seized control of all the levers of state government in those states since the 2001 reapportionment and redistricting.

Democratic Govs. Rod Blagojevich (Ill.) and Bill Richardson (N.M.) as well as high-ranking Louisiana elected officials have been contacted by members of House leadership led by Hoyer since the Georgia legislature began their re-redistricting.

“Some of us who believe Georgia is going to happen think that it will help us strategically, to motivate some governors that weren’t interested in doing it to help us,” said one source who works closely with House Democrats.

At least a few D.C.-based Republicans privately acknowledge they are concerned about the possibility of Democratic retribution over the maneuvers in Georgia, but are not in a position to change the situation.

Politics is no longer a fraternal game of tennis, if it ever was. The Republicans have shown it is a game of rugby, and the referees are very absent minded. Republicans have gained clout and influence by bending and breaking rules left and right.

We were fooled once. Hopefully we are smart enough now to realize we have to dish it out like we are getting it. We can see it emerge clearly from the blogosphere. With the election of Howard Dean as the DNC chair we will also see it on the national level.

I wish it had not come to this. While Democrats played nice guy and tried to do the statesmanlike thing, we were figuratively slapped, kicked around and abused by the opposition. We were given no credit whatsoever. But the times, they are a changing. The Republicans have become the overbearing abusive husband. The Democrats have played the role of weak and submissive wife. The Republicans are about to find out how it feels to have what they have served to us daily for years sent right back at them.

I just hope when this is all over we can revert to our better and more civilized ways. But now is not the time.

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