Dems Dissent Doesn’t Do Diddly

Most U.S. Presidents, especially those fortunate enough to serve two terms, attempt to tie their legacy to some fundamental societal change. Presidents like Wilson {the Fourteen Point peace program), FDR (the New Deal) and LBJ (the Great Society) come to mind.

But this trend isn’t just a thing of the past. Our most recent executives have tried to follow suit. For Clinton, it was health care reform, and for Bush 43, it’s the privatization of social security. Both are programs that have been entrenched in American society, largely unchanged, for decades, and both could benefit from some restructuring. However, the difference in the two President’s campaigns for change come in the dissenting parties.

In 1994, there was no doubt that Bill Clinton was persona non grata among the Grand Old’ Party. There was a lingering bitterness over his ending of the Republicans 12 year occupancy of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and then there were the very real ideological differences. So as Clinton and his wife made the case of health care reform, the Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, vociferously countered each and every proposal, and ended up painting the administration as unable to come up with a real solution for the problem, effectively winning the war over public opinion.

Compare that with today. Sure, the Democrats have called Bush’s proposal every synonym of stupid there is. But what have they countered with? There hasn’t been one counter proposal from the Left since this whole debate started. Most everyone agrees that something must be done about social security before the system goes bankrupt, but it’s simply not enough for Howard Dean to say that Bush plan won’t work. In order to convince the electorate to come back from the far right, the Democrats have to offer up their own solutions. Give the people two different visions of social security’s future and let them decide which one they like better.

I don’t know if they are still in shellshock over the 2004 presidential election returns or if they are too busy searching the heartland of America for a frozen Bill Clinton, circa 1992, but the Democrats need to get their heads out of their mascots (think about it) and offer America a true alternative. I mean, there are a few ways they can counter the Bush plan besides telling us it won’t work. They could tell us why it won’t work, namely because it would run up a Reagan-like deficits thanks to Bush’s needless tax cuts. Or they could tell us that Al Gore (remember him?) was onto something when he spoke of the need for a social security lockbox, so that the money earmarked for the program doesn’t end up tied up into other government programs.

This isn’t the first time I’ve felt like the Democrats have tucked their tails and run from a fight, but I sure hope it’s the last. I am a proud Democratic voter, and a supporter of the party’s ideals, but I can’t shake the feeling that my party has bought into the stupid Sean Hannity mandate theory. You know, the one that goes, well most of the map was red in the last election, so therefore, we must be right.

Of course, the flaw in that theory is that if you know anything about electoral politics, you know that one blue state, such as California, is roughly equal to the entire red landscape from Nevada to the Mississippi River.

Yes, more people voted Republican in this election than voted Democrat. I’ve give Hannity that. But 55 million people voted in favor of the opposition. Now if only we could find that opposition, those 55 million votes will not have been in vain.