Who does have the power in Washington these days?
One thing is sure. It’s not Barack Obama and the Democrats. Sure, the Democrats hold the White House and have solid majorities in the Senate and the House, but they don’t have power. They are not ‘in power’.
The Republicans are in power, despite being the so-called minority party. They don’t have the power to create anything, to advance the country, to do good for the American people. In fact, they’re not interested in behaving that way.
But they do have, and do exercise, the power to stop everything until they can get back into the majority, where, once ensconced, the nation can be assured that they will return to their old ways of doing business, the Bush ways, the Republican ways that brought us two useless wars, a crushing financial crisis, a major recession, and at least fifteen million unemployed people.
The Republicans have one agenda, and that is to destroy the last seventy years of social progress and turn America into a rich man’s paradise built on the sweat of workers reduced to essential servitude. There will be no Social Security program. There will be no Medicare. There will be no Medicaid. Unemployment insurance, worker’s comp, those will be gone. Health insurance reform will disappear and the insurance companies will stuff the pockets of Republican politicians in gratitude and in expectation of future favors.
There will be war, constantly, and war will happen everywhere the Republicans and their friends think there is a dollar to be made over the objections of the people who live in those places. There will be obscenely wealthy defense contractors and oil companies running roughshod over America and Americans not lucky enough to have money and power. There will be an aristocracy, possibly even a theocracy. If another deep sea oil well bursts in the Gulf, the taxpayer will pay the bill, not the oil company that caused the spill.
The great era of civil rights will be over. The Republicans will gut civil rights legislation, either by failing to enforce the laws, or by direct action against the laws. Civil rights are inconvenient to the moneyed class that owns the Republican Party: it costs them money and requires a modicum of respect for the rights of all Americans, not just the wealthy.
Those things will be the future of the United States if the Boehner-Palin-McConnell Gang gains power.
And that future can be laid at the feet of the Democrats, and more particularly at the feet of President Obama.
He has sought the middle way, the way of reason and compromise and honest discussion, and time and time again his hand has been slapped away by the Republicans. They have offered only deceit, lies, hypocrisies and backstabbing. They have no program they care to air in public, despite the babblings of the rabid right of their own party, the screeching Republican truths that the Sharron Angles and the Rand Pauls and the Michelle Bachmanns spit out.
Congressional Republicans, who ostensibly represent all Republicans, have offered nothing. Their budget plan had no numbers. Their health care plan was a book of blank pages. All they have is ‘No!’
To the unemployed they say no. To the rich they say ‘Yes, tax cuts for you, of course, sir!’
Senator John Kyl of Arizona says that unemployment payments must be paid for in the budget or they should be denied, but that tax cuts for the rich should never be paid for in the budget. He is, as are all Republicans, of the opinion that Republican wars should not be paid for either: the money should be borrowed, off budget.
When BP unleashed hell in the Gulf, the Republicans apologized to BP and castigated the President for insisting that BP pay for the damage, for all the damage.
It does not matter what the President does, the Republicans will tear at him like mad dogs. If he does this month the opposite of what he did last month when they tore into him, they will tear into him this month. The Republicans do not care. They know that they can tear at him and that they may look like fools to intelligent people, but that their people, their base, will cheer them on and vote them back into office for what the base sees as patriotic bravery.
Meanwhile the Democrats, led by Obama, succumb to these attacks. Obama keeps pressing for bipartisanship, eighteen months after it is obvious to the simplest fool in the land that the Republicans are not interested, will never be interested.
It is said by those who know him that Obama is not confrontational. And it is good to have a reasonable, intelligent man in the Presidency. But there must come a realization that the way of reason and compromise no longer works, that the rabid wolves are at the gates and the gates are buckling.
It’s past time for Obama and the Democrats to realize that power in Washington is held by the Republicans right now, that they are succeeding at controlling the agenda and the public debate.
It’s past time for Obama to realize that the citizenry is not the brightest in the world, and that they want to be led. The Republicans’ angry denunciations of all things Obama and all things Democratic is seen by the electorate as leadership.
It’s past time for Obama to lead, to attack, to start taking down the Republicans with hard rhetoric and hard actions. It’s past time for him to put away his childhood squeamishness about confrontation and to get in the arena, to stop the sissy talk about bipartisanship, to stop acting the victim of ridiculous Senate rules, to stop being the girl and to start snarling and punching.
It’s past time for him to say ‘No!’ No more compromises to gain one or two Republican votes. No more sucking up to Scott Brown or Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe. And if Ben Nelson of Nebraska wants to play at being a Republican, kick him off his committees and give him an office in the basement.
The Democrats need to get tough, they need to get mean, they need to actually kick ass and show that they stand with and for the majority of Americans, and are not handmaidens of the Republicans and the corporations, that they are not the enablers of the rabid right wing. Obama needs to stand up, put his fist in the air and say ‘No more!’ to the Republicans. And he needs to put that fist in the face of John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and the rest of the mad dogs.
Democracy demands it.
The alternative is that there will be no democracy.