Tuesday, February 23, 2010

To Democrats, dissent is no longer patriotism

America witnessed a tremor in the political landscape in 2009. We know it as the Tea Party movement, a grassroots response to resist massive federal expansion.

As federal oversight in the banking, insurance, auto, energy, and healthcare industries have all been flagship issues for this administration and its supporters, it comes as no surprise that the Tea Party movement has encountered fierce resistance. Since its inception one year ago, "tea partiers" have been razed by the news media. Liberal pundits across the networks ignored the substance and reasoning for the widespread protests, and rather made sophomoric jokes about “tea-bagging.” They made accusations of political lobbies "astroturfing," and stoked racial sensitivity by perpetuating a lack of minority participation to discredit the movement as a "whites-only" club. (1)

Even elected representatives showed contempt for the apparent disapproval of these constituents. Nancy Pelosi also called the movement “astroturf,” and reduced the protest attendees to little more than Neo-Nazi racists. (2)

With many loyal media outlets by their side, Democrats just plugged their ears, kept chanting their mantra, and hoped their negative slights against the tea partiers would drown out the loud voices of dissent. They could not have been more wrong.

In fact, the attacks may have helped the Tea Party's cause. Perhaps people noticed the movement more because, deep down, Americans knew that there was something incongruous about the Democrats’ blistering attacks upon the tea partiers. After all, the liberal establishment had spent the latter half of the Bush years peddling the slogan, “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Then, in the very moment that this administration encountered opposition to its own proposed policy, dissent had lost its “patriotism” and had become the destructive plot of racists, insurance lobbyists, and ordinary people that are just too stupid to know what’s good for them.

Also ironic is that when prominent liberal Democrats like John Kerry and Ted Kennedy found themselves quoting this maxim with regularity, it was falsely attributed to Thomas Jefferson with equal regularity. (3) They apparently felt that if the phrase could invoke the spirit of the founding fathers, it would legitimize their resistance to the Iraq War.

But the thing is, if the Democrats truly believed that the ideals of the founding fathers are the litmus test for legitimate dissent, they could not find the tea partiers’ cause more reasonable. Their argument today is remarkably similar to that of the American colonials in 1776. Largely comprised of taxpayers, today's tea partiers feel that they are facing the inevitable prospect of increased tax burdens, and that they lack the representation to avoid such intolerable mandates. But rather than seeing their dissent as patriotism, Democrats feel that the the Tea Party movement should be the subject of ridicule and scorn.

It seems that Democrats want to selectively choose when citizens should adhere to the doctrine of patriotic objection, and are willing to reshape the terms when convenient. One can’t help but draw a parallel to Orwell’s iconic interpretation of elitism and tyranny. In Animal Farm, we see a ruling party amend the principle “All animals are equal” to become “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” (4) It seems that upon encountering the inconvenient objections of the Tea Party, this Democratic administration also felt the need to amend its ideology, and “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” has become “Objecting to George W. Bush was the highest form of patriotism, but in 2010, we should all just agree with hope and change."

William Sullivan

(1) http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2010/20100216095241.aspx


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Barney Frank and the 60 Vote Rule

Barney Frank apparently fancies himself an advocate of democratic principles. Recently, he called the guidelines in the Senate “anti-democratic” for requiring 60 votes for bill passage, and suggests that an initiative be taken by Democratic senators to abolish the rule. His opinion is that the revision to lower the requirement from 67 votes to 60 was a good start, (1) so one can only assume that he would like for that threshold to be a strict majority, or 51 votes. Frank feels that this will alleviate the influence of roustabouts in the “smaller states” and diminish their role in a filibuster against a party in majority.

Barney Frank is calling for the abolition of this 60 vote rule under the guise of moral outrage and an adherence to democracy. But it is nothing more than a ploy to garner more control in Congress, and it has absolutely nothing to do with our system being “anti-democratic.”

This is obvious when we examine, for example, the healthcare reform package that his party supports. Barney Frank would argue that it should only require a majority vote in the Senate to initiate sweeping and costly healthcare reform. That would be “democratic.”

But this question looms. If he indeed values the precepts of democracy, why does he ignore the majority of Americans that have been much more prevalently against this healthcare bill? (2) This Senate majority has been blindly charging forward with their agenda in blatant spite of public opinion. By what logic is that acceptable within the guidelines of democracy?

For that matter, according to the most recent polls, the majority of Americans are against abortion, (3) despite the Democratic Party’s largely “pro-choice” agenda. Shall we ban abortions across the board because 51 percent of Americans feel it is wrong? The majority of Americans also persist in opposing gay marriage, (4) in clear opposition to Barney Frank’s obvious position in that arena. Shall we take the right to decide on this matter from the states and apply a federal ban on gay marriage because well more than 51 percent of Americans are against the practice?

With these issues, would Barney Frank stand firm with the democratic principles he claims to maintain, and support such large-scale reform on the basis of the majority? I would wager that he would not.

The fact is that Barney Frank is not truly an advocate of democracy. He is an advocate of his party’s agenda, and an advocate of any measures necessary to advance that agenda. In this case, he is just feigning a devotion to democracy to lower voting requirements, which will then allow Democrats pass their unpopular legislation without having to hide their backroom deals that grease politicians for those few extra votes.

No one knows better than Barney Frank that Americans are paying attention to Washington’s corruption and shady deals, and that they don’t like it. His home state just shouted its disapproval in an election.

William Sullivan
Houston, TX

1) http://www.breitbart.tv/barney-frank-god-didnt-create-the-filibuster/
2) http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/obama_and_democrats_health_care_plan-1130.html
3) http://www.gallup.com/poll/118399/more-americans-pro-life-than-pro-choice-first-time.aspx
4) http://www.gallup.com/poll/118378/majority-americans-continue-oppose-gay-marriage.aspx