Saturday, November 20, 2004

"Post-Election Potpourri" Dept.

It should be noted at the outset that this is not the thrice-promised post election commentary and analysis.{1} Instead, what you are about to read is my interaction with a liberal Democrat and fellow Washingtonian (Scott Salyer) who actually gets it...well...much of it anyway viz. the recent election trends. His words will be in black font.

An Open Letter to Democrats Everywhere

As a public service, We at Rerum Novarum will give this man's views some airtime here -though not without Our comments of course.

The Presidential election of 2004 was not a fluke.


George W. Bush did not win because his people rigged all the machines or because provisional ballots weren't counted in Ohio.


Karl Rove is an evil genius, but he alone is not responsible for the outcome of the election.

Well, Karl Rove is at least hit and miss to some extent. I remind the readers that the stupid amnesty for illegals idea that President Bush is again actively supporting was Rove's idea. However, there is truth to the statement that Rove is on the whole a brilliant campaign strategist. I would say he is to President Bush what Dick Morris was for President Clinton: a strategist who politically guesses right a lot more than wrong.

Fox News did not manipulate middle America into voting Republican.


The people of the Midwest, Ohio, and the South are not stupid, homophobic racists.


None of this means, however, that the Republican argument is a superior one.

All that Mr. Salyer is saying here is that what is noted above does not ipso facto prove a stronger case for the Republicans: to which I must register agreement yet again.

Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Somewhere along the way, the Democrats stopped fighting.

I am not sure this is completely accurate. I remind the readers that a lot of Bush's judicial nominees were not seated as a result of senatorial filibustering tactics by the Democrats. And the problem is not that they do not fight but how they go about doing it. After decades of lies about fiscal responsibility viz. the budget resulting in "throwing grandma out of the nursing home", "taking away grandma's social security", and the like, this well-worn refrain of trying to win by scaring the electorate is not working anymore.

The turning point for this was 1994 but in all honesty, I think the rise of alternative media is the primary reason for this.{2} In summary, it is how the Democrats have sought to fight rather than them not fighting that is the problem: running not on ideas of their own but more of a "vote for me because my opponent is Hitler" strategy.

Not hard-working average Joe and Jane, but the elected leadership.

See my previous comments.

It didn't happen all at once, but if there was a turning point, it was the triumph of Newt Gingrich and the Republicans in the 1994 mid-term election. From then on, they chose a message and pounded it and pounded it for 10 years until they broke through.

It is certainly true that the Republicans have run on a message and the Democrats have not. But the idea that the Republicans had to "pound and pound" an issue for "years" to "break through" is not one that I concur with. This country is more conservative than most people care to want to admit to and the Republicans have had dominating election wins in those years (1972, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004) where they campaigned as unambiguous conservatives against the Democrats. I know Mr. Salyer could point to 1974, 1976, 1982, 1986, 1992, and 1996 as liberal triumphs but there are good reasons to mitigate against the idea that they were the result of liberals winning on the issues.{3}

No, it is not a vast right-wing conspiracy.


It's an ideological culture. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Robert "Leaky" Novak, don't have to be told to tow the line. They don't hold secret meetings to coordinate. Like Nike sponsored athletes, they just do it.

It bears noting here that those who share certain elements of a common view (as Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and Novak do) will tend to have similar views on issues. As far as "tow[ing] the line", they do so with the Republicans much the way counterparts in the mainstream media generally do for the Democrats.{4}

The point here is not that the Republicans kicked the crap out of the Democrats for a decade. It's that the democrats sat there and took it. They didn't fight discriminatory laws, the dismantling of environmental regulations, or the nomination of ideologically-motivated judges.

As I noted already, what is said about the judges by Mr. Salyer is not true. As far as "discriminatory laws", that is a broad statement that would need quantifying before I could comment one way or the other on it. As far as "the dismantling of environmental regulations", it is also a bit broad but for the most part is probably accurate. The Democrats at the congressional level are about as interested in the environment as they are in helping people get off of government assistance programs: in short, not at all.

A few months ago, I wrote about a perfect example in which Jim McDermott from my home state of Washington purposely omitted the words 'Under God' from the Pledge of Allegiance, then denied it at the first sign of Republican resistance. In short, the Democrats have nobody to blame but themselves for laying down.

McDermott has done a lot worse than this but I digress.

A False Choice

The questions and regrets from 2000, the cultural wedge issues, and the venom for George W. Bush are obscuring the more immediate identity crisis within the Democratic party.


The consecutive losses by Al Gore and John Kerry are not sad coincidences or isolated incidents, but urgent symptoms of a larger problem.


Republicans were able to portray Gore as a fake and Kerry as a waffler because, well, they are. In eight years, the Clinton Administration did little to nothing on civil rights, the environment, workers rights, and a host of other historically Democrat issues.

Yet again we agree. They ran on those issues (among others) much as President Bush ran in 2000 on a conservative message. And much as there was little that could be legitimately called "conservative" in President Bush's first term, President Clinton did not exactly govern true to the manner whereby they campaigned - indeed I am sure Mr. Salyer would agree that President Clinton had to make some compromises that irritated the liberal base who heavily supported him.{5}

Gore would have been no different.

This is true. Gore would have been a lot truer to Clinton's policies than Bush Sr. was to Reagan's.

Kerry voted to give GWB authority for action on Iraq to show he was a hawk, but voted against the funding to show Deaniacs he was a dove.


The American people know a fake when they see one and right now the Democrats are a party full of them. This is why Bush successfully pulled off his strong leader bit while fumbling and misleading the country into war and mortgaging the future wholesale.

On the war subject, I have held to the same core position ever since February of 2003 when I finally (after months of musing on various threads) systemized my outlook into a concrete position in support of the war. Nothing I have seen since that time has made any dents of significance in my position as formulated there and developed somewhat further in additional weblog posts since that time -most recently HERE.

As far as President Bush "fumbling", I cannot argue with that because in some spots he has. As far as "mortgaging the future" goes, I cannot say I disagree with Mr. Salyer on that point either except that (of course) my recommended solutions for this are probably not ones that he would generally concur with.{6} So on the last three points, we basically concur on two of them and "two outta three" is not bad according to that great western philosopher Meatloaf ;-)

It's why Republicans can frame liberal arguments as valueless. It's why Democrats have lost the trust of roughly half of the American people. It's why they lost this election and why they will hemorrage votes in the years to come if they don't find their soul again.

Well, we have some areas of disagreement but Mr. Salyer is right on a lot of points here that his allies had better take seriously if they want to become politically viable again.

There was a true Democrat in this year's presidential race (not to mention 2000), but it wasn't John Kerry. The only person speaking out about the problems of corporate power, the struggle to earn a living wage, environmental injustice, equality for all people, and democratic reform, was Ralph Nader.

Whether or not these are "true Democrat" positions or not, Mr. Salyer is right that Nader was the only consistent enunciator of an agenda that liberals could rally around.

The mere mention of his name is a dirty word for most Democrats, [maybe because he reminds us that the (D) after our leaders' names is supposed to stand for something] but he stood up to the elite powers in this country, spoke to my issues, and won my vote. Votes should be earned and I refuse to let mine be taken for granted by any party.

I have a hunch that Mr. Salyer and I have similar views on the two party system.{7}

It isn't just the Democratic Party that's in trouble, but democratic ideals. Democrats have turned their backs not only on their principles, but democracy itself.

I concur with this. Heck, this was the reason that Ronald Reagan left the Democratic Party in 1962 -a point I noted in one of the third party topic threads from earlier in the month.

The voice of the Democrats, historically America's strongest voice for equality and freedom has gone noticably hoarse (and not from the vehemence of its protests). As a result, we are experiencing an electoral drift to the right. This is dangerous for all citizens, not to mention the system of democracy we depend on.

With regards to the idea that the Democrats have been "historically America's strongest voice for equality and freedom", I am of the view that the Democratic party was the party of physical slavery in the nineteenth century, of economic slavery in the twentieth century, and is increasingly becoming the party of psychological slavery in the twenty-first century.

As far as this being a "system of democracy", I have noted before that (i) this is a republic not a democracy and (ii) between the two there is a distinction with a difference. I will agree with Mr. Salyer that the Democrats have been failing to persuade voters but not for some of the same reasons that he states.


There is still good news however. Without framing the debate, while abandoning their principles and turning their backs on their base, the Democrats are still hanging tough.

With so many allies in the mainstream media, this is not hard for them to do.

The American people believe so much in the principles of the Democrats, that they've been able to retain a large voter base whose only reason to support them is the hope that they will soon return to their prominent roots.

I could not disagree with Mr. Salyer more than on the idea that the American people " the principles of the Democrats". Despite a good track record in most of what he says thus far, he is 180 degrees off base here and that would not be difficult to demonstrate.{8}

And here's some even better news. The one inviolable rule of the American democracy is that the only true power rests in the hands of the people.

Again, America is not a democracy and it never has been. The power is vested in representatives who govern with the consent of the people -a policy that basically means that the people can change their political leaders at different intervals. (Two years for State Representative, four years for President, six years for State Senators.)

Although the Democrats own much of the blame for their failures, it is all of us who can and must demand better of them, because hoping and waiting may not be enough.

Agreed. The Democrats who are interested in saving their party had better take a lot of what Mr. Salyer says here seriously. And though I view the words in his final sentence as being well off the mark, I will nonetheless give him the final words in this thread - noting only that the full text I just interacted with can be read in sequence HERE.

If the Democrats pick up their principles, dust them off, and put them to work, the Republican frames will no longer fit the picture and they will have the chance to live up to the promise of their forebears and the expectations of their citizens.


{1} The promised post-election commentary and analysis thread is about two thirds done as of this writing. I am on pace to post it prior to Thanksgiving as I promised to do in an earlier audioblog post.

{2} This is a point I have noted a number of times in various forums including this weblog. (One example of which can be read HERE.)

{3} For example, 1974 was the year that President Nixon resigned and the fallout from that was the Republicans getting creamed in the elections. In 1976, there was still stench from Watergate and President Ford had to deal with a strong challenge in the primaries from California Governor Ronald Reagan and he made a few blunders in his debate with Governor Carter. On top of that, Carter was not then the disgrace that he has become in recent years but was viewed as a moral and religious man. That explains why 1976 went the way it did.

{4} If memory serves, the polling data of media journalists and reporters shows a pretty constant 85% or more voting pattern for Democrats.

{5} Welfare reform comes to mind here: something that a Democrat congress never would have supported and which -when the Republicans did produce a program of some reforms, President Clinton signed the legislation. Another is the balanced budget situation in the 1990's: only after the Republicans took over congress did this become a "priority" with President Clinton.

{6} Some of this has been dealt with in past musings to this weblog and other places. I will be touching on some of it and other related bits in my post-election commentary and analysis. (Indeed most of the material that will be posted for that was already written before I was aware of Mr. Salyer's statements interestingly enough.)

{7} My most recent musings on those threads are viewable HERE and HERE.

{8} Heck, the mere individual fact that so much of the liberal agenda has had to be obtained by courts inventing rather than interpreting laws is the most significant shell hole below the waterline of Mr. Salyer's theoretical vessel. (I could list several others but this will suffice in brief to establish my point.)

Friday, November 19, 2004

In Remembrance of Gerard Serafin:

Please pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Gerard Bugge (aka "Gerard Serafin"): a member of St. Blogs and publisher of one of its finest (in my humble opinion) weblogs. We knew each other only through occasional correspondence in the past two years but I sensed in him a genuine human being with a capacity for compassion that most people cannot remotely approach. His funeral mass will be on Monday in Baltimore. It is my wish that his soul with all the souls of the faithfully departed will rest in peace through the mercy of God.

[Lord, please] remember Gerard (Serafin) Bugge, whom you have called from this life. In baptism he died with Christ: may he also share in his resurrection. [Roman Missal Eucharistic Prayer 2: From Masses for the Dead]
So much for liberal "tolerance" and claiming to oppose hateful stereotypes

Remember the Animal Farm mantra folks. Here is how it applies in Condi's case in case you are interested:

Blacks who are liberal are good and stereotyping them is bad.

Blacks who are conservative are bad and stereotyping them is good.

I have noted already how disgusted I am at such double standards but the fact that the mainstream media is so blatant about what they used to be covert about is yet more proof that they are continuing to go through the "death rattle" viz. their relevance in society today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Miscellaneous Notes on the Upcoming Rerum Novarum Post-Election Commentary and on the Secretary of State for the Second Bush Term

this is an audio post - click to play