Yes We Can Win In November
There is absolutely no reason that the Democrats can’t take back Congress in November 2006. You want wedge issues — we’ve got wedge issues. You want images of the Bush Administration being the worst bumblers and fuckups this side of the Three Stooges — hell, the news has already been saturated with these images during the past year.
Karl Rove’s chief M.O. is to attack his opponent’s strong points instead of his weaknesses. The Republicans’ remaining advantage — if they even still have it — is the image that they’re “tough.” They’re tough on terror; tough on crime.
Now, think of Iraqmire, Katrina, dropping a bomb on the Bronx (Hat Tip to Steve O). These Keystone Cops are “protecting” us?? Riiight.
And don’t forget, violent crime in the U.S. has gone up in the past year. Our “leaders” are so distracted with their military adventures overseas, we no longer have the resources to fight crime here at home.
In a word: INCOMPETENCE. If our government was a private company, every one of these worthless failures would have been fired a long time ago.
When Bush vetoed the stem cell research bill, he just reaffirmed the rightwing mindset of “once you’re born you don’t count any more.” He also handed the Democrats the mother of all wedge issues.
Charles Schumer (D-NY) said “There’s a feeling among more affluent Republicans of uncomfortable-ness with where the Republican Party is headed…And they don’t like creationism being taught in the public schools, and they sure don’t like blocking stem cell research. It’s an issue that affects lots of swing voter Republicans who will move to the Democratic side…. When they know somebody who says, ‘My daughter could be blind by age 20, please allow stem cell research,’ they don’t see why not.”
This issue cuts across all political, religious and socio-economic lines. Most of us know somebody who’s suffering from — or prone to — Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s or diabetes. The cures for these diseases — and many others — might be found through stem cell research.
The founder of an advocacy group for stem cell research said “We fully expect to hold accountable the politicians who oppose this.”
Another potent wedge issue is the minimum wage. So far at least six states are expected to have a ballot initiative this November for increasing the minimum wage. Some of these are swing states, and this initiative could tip the balance.
Remember all those swing states that had anti-gay-marriage ballots in 2004? This is the flip side.
Twenty-three states already have a higher minimum wage than the federal minimum. As you probably know, the Republican Congress recently voted — for the ninth straight year — to leave the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour, where it’s been since 1997. And they simultaneously voted to give themselves a pay raise. Let’s remember this in November.
Last April a nationwide survey showed that 83% of Americans are in favor of increasing the minimum wage. Drive That Wedge!
Unlike stem cell research and increasing the minimum wage, the Republicans’ favorite hot-button wedge issues — gay marriage and flag burning — are totally empty meaningless slogans. If two guys (or 2 women) want to get married, or if someone is burning the American flag — come on, what actual concrete effect does this have on YOU? There’s only one answer here: None Whatsoever.
The gay marriage and flag burning issues have only one purpose: to make several million rightwing automatons snap to attention and go “Ugh!! Bad!!”
On the other hand, stem cell research and the minimum wage are real issues which actually affect millions of real people.
This Newsweek column has an excellent counterpoint to Rove’s “cut and run.” “If you believe the Iraq war is a success, vote Republican. If you believe it is a failure, vote Democratic.”
You can’t cut to the chase any better than that. Come on Democrats, what’re you waiting for?
So far, Montana seems to be demonstrating what the Democrats can do this November. In 2004 Montana chose Bush over Kerry by 18 percentage points. But this year, 3-term incumbent Republican Senator Conrad Burns is fighting for his political life.
Burns’ Democratic opponent is Jon Tester, a farmer from Eastern Montana. Tester has a flat-top haircut, and the Republican Smear Machine pulled out all the stops in a TV attack ad. The ad showed a barber saying:
“Fella comes in for a trim on his flattop because he’s running for U.S. Senate. Guess he didn’t want anybody to know he opposes a gay-marriage ban. Thinks flag burning is a right. And supports higher taxes. So I told him, ‘You’re gonna need a lot more than a haircut to cover up all that’.... Didn't leave much of a tip either.”
The Democrats came up with a response ad, which said:
“Here’s a tip. The man attacking Jon Tester is an actor. A fake, sent by Senator Burns’ Washington friends to tell lies about Jon Tester.... It’s bad enough that Burns took thousands of dollars from sleazy lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s associate and then changed his vote.”
Touche! Let’s hope that Karl Rove’s tried-and-true smear tactics and wedge issues will fail throughout the country the way they seem to be failing in Montana.
Sometimes, staying the course is stupid. This November, change the direction!!
cross-posted at Bring It On!