Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Option Reserved

So the people have spoken, and Bush is once again president, and it will be another four years until the American people choose again. Hell, even I’ll get use to that fact, soon enough. But as fortune would have it, plenty of elections will be held between now and November 2008.

It’s a comforting thought, because such elections will keep America’s options open for policy, even if one of the parties fails to do so. Such is the strength of democracy.

Boy, will we ever need it. America narrowly chose George Bush for the second time, and though many are willing to live with that, to the extent that elections are not disputed, the issues that have brought such controversy to the elections remain, and the Republicans remain locked into one side or another of most of the issues.

Regardless of the fiscal situation they themselves have created, the Republicans are committed to their tax cuts. Perhaps Bush doesn't want to repeat his father's mistake, but in doing so Bush has committed his own brand of error, failing to relent where his father was wise to. Democrats aren't necessarily big fans of taxes, but we know sometimes the belt has to be tightened and the sacrifice made. We learned that lesson the hard way when the deficit spending of Vietnam ended that other period of halcyon growth in the late 20th century. The Republicans have been given the choice of avoiding Johnson's disastrous "both guns and butter" approach, but they've closed that option to themselves.

Regardless of the military situation they themselves have created, the Republicans are committed to fighting the Iraq war their way, isolated, troops badly equipped, our army overstretched to the point where we're calling up people who already completed their service. They've ruled out the draft, just like they've ruled out doing away with the wartime tax cuts. Problem is, while dollars can be easily (for now) borrowed, soldiers on the ground are not so easy to procure. Barring the option of bringing in UN or NATO troops, which the Republicans most emphatically have, we have only two options, should events in Iraq or elsewhere require more troops: National humiliation, or a politically explosive peacetime draft. One wonders which choice will come easiest to the Republicans, in that case.

In domestic issues, the options are similarly constrained for the Republican party. If the Environment and Business special interests conflict, the special interests win. If worker safety and special interests conflict, special interests win. If labor standards and those interests conflict... I don't need to repeat myself. On every issue, from tort reform to finance reform, the Republican Party gives those who vote for it only one choice, which is to say no choice at all.

The Democrats are not so rigid, not so tied down, on foreign policy and domestic. We have shown flexibility in the last twenty years enough to deal with the changes in America's political sensibilities, and yet preserve our commitment to the interests of the common over that of the elite.

With the Democratic Party, options are open. For every war we have repudiated, there is another we have waged wholeheartedly, when it needed to be waged. Many of the first Cold Warriors were Democrats, among them even those who had previously advocated closer relations. We are not so beholden to ideology, not so beholden to our own political fortunes that we will not do the right thing when it's necessary.

So when the next election comes around, Independents and Conservatives, I appeal to you: Keep your options open. Don't let one party paint this nation into a corner time and time again without consequence.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at November 8, 2004 9:14 PM