Who Hijacked Our Country

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

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!


Blogger Snave said...

We CAN, SHOULD and WILL use these wedge issues you describe so nicely, Tom. Thanks for a good, thoughtful post, a positive post in that it presents us with ways to approach this problem we lefties face during the coming months and coming two years: how to beat back the GOP spin machine, which will tell America that we Democrats are "the enemy"?

I still have to beat my tired old horse and recommend the book "Don't Think Of An Elephant" by George Lakoff. This is a MUST read for getting a better grasp on how conservatives think, and for explaining to us why so many of them vote against their own best interests. As you have pointed out in your previous posts, a number of conservatives are breaking lines with Bu$hCo. To me, this indicates that mainstream conservatives and Democrats definitely have common values, no matter what FOX pundits and other similarly creepy people might try and say. Of course we have known this all along... we just tend to have a hard time articulating Democratic party ideas to the conservatives... or at least that is what conservatives tell us.

July 27, 2006 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Snave: Oh yeah, we need these wedge issues. These are the terms the war is being fought on, and this is what we need to do if we want to stand a chance.

I've seen a lot of posts about George Lakoff and the book "Don't Think Of An Elephant." I'll have to check it out. Anything that offers a glimpse into the conservative mindset is worth knowing. Like the saying goes, "Know Your Enemy."

It's encouraging that lots of conservatives are jumping ship and running from this wingnut administration. I think everybody should be appalled at the direction our government is trying to take us. There's definitely some common ground between people of different political parties. But there's still lots of work to do if we want to get these thugs out of Congress and the White House.

July 27, 2006 at 12:41 AM  
Blogger Mike V. said...

hell, the Three Stooges would have been better for sure..

I'd say that Moe is certainly Cheney, and I'm going to with Curly and or Shemp as Bush and Larry as Scooter Libby... :)

July 27, 2006 at 9:15 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike: Yup, the Three Stooges would've done a better job, for sure. Or Laurel and Hardy, or Abbott and Costello for that matter.

July 27, 2006 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Jane Lake said...

Ha ha haaaaa!

I love your plan! It will blow up like the blueberry girl in Charlie and the Chocolate factory.


I'm not telling...ha, haa,haaaaa

John Spencer for NY Senator. Hillary is a thorn in your agenda anyway!

July 27, 2006 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Jane: I don't know who John Spencer is (I assume you aren't talking about the late actor from LA Law and West Wing) and I don't want Hillary. Most of her fans are Republicans who want her to run so they can keep the White House.

Enjoy your laughter while you can. Your neocons and world dominionists will be out soon, whether it's '06 or '08. Whoever takes their place, this current gang of incompetent thugs will go down in history as the most inept and corrupt administration in our history.

July 27, 2006 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Mike V. said...

although Jane is probably a hit and run comment type, I will still ask this question:

please tell us all how our nation is better off in the last 6 years of Bush and the rethugs in congress.

please tell us how working families and the middle class have fared.

July 27, 2006 at 8:07 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Mike: Actually, she's one of the BlogMad regulars. Her site is hard to categorize; sometimes it's even non-political. Her one tried-and-true belief is being anti-abortion. If you do a post on abortion, she'll be in your comments section just as surely as 5 o'clock coming after 4:59.

July 27, 2006 at 10:08 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

We need to be asking our Republican friends LOTS and LOTS of questions, always, and especially during election times.

Do Republicans want clean air and water? If so, what do they plan to do to keep those things that way, and if they don't want those things, why not? I think they do want those things. I believe we all do. So why do they fight legislation that would help protect our environment?

Do Republicans want higher education to be affordable to all Americans? I would hope they do. If so, how do they plan to go about making that happen? If they don't want that to happen, why not?

Do Republicans want to see less spending from the administration? I am certain they do. How will they make that happen, given their recent track record?

Do Republicans want to see all Americans get the medications and health services they need? If so, how would they go about this? Do Republicans want to see all Americans live comfortably, not in poverty, during their retirement?

Do Republicans want peace in the Middle East and in the rest of the world? I believe they do. Do they really believe the Bush administration is pursuing peace? If they do believe that, can they logically explain how Bush is pursuing peace?

Do Republicans really want to wreck the U.N., or might it be better to try and help fix it instead? Would a better-functioning U.N. not be of great use in furthering the cause of world peace?

Do Republicans really want to trash our nation's public school system, or might it be better to try and help fix the system instead?

Do Republicans want to continue the war in Iraq for "as long as it takes", and if so, can they logically explain why?

Do Republicans approve of torture and internment camps, some of the camps and activities being secret? While some might approve, I would bet that most do not. What will they do to stop this trend?

Do Republicans really believe the office of president should have unlimited power? I don't think so. What will they do to stop this trend?

Do Republicans really believe all taxpayers should have to give dollars to religious groups, whether or not those taxpayers subscribe to those groups' religions?

Do Republicans believe science has value? I like to believe most of them do. Do they really believe stem cell research, if it may help us alleviate suffering, is not worth trying? What are mainstream Republicans going to do to control the fringe elements within their own party?

Do Republicans really believe that someone like Tom DeLay should stay in office, just because he is a Republican and not a Democrat?

Do Republicans believe Bush should have delayed the start of a 9-11 commission? Do they really believe the White House wasn't behind the leaking of the name of a CIA agent? Do they believe the Downing Street Memo should be dismissed out of hand?

Do Republicans want to preserve the integrity of our election process? If so, why do some of them hesitate to demand paper ballots or demand a way to recount votes in close elections?

There are too many questions to include here that we need to be asking GOP voters. Good questions, phrased properly, can plant seeds of doubt. We need to answer their name-calling and their criticisms by asking them questions concerning whether or not they believe in things we all hold common, such as quality education, a clean environment, fiscal responsibility.

July 27, 2006 at 10:24 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Sorry Snave, but the Republicans have an answer to most of your questions: Privatization (as God intended). Clean air, drinkable water, education, health care -- you buy your own, and if you can't afford it, that means you aren't worthy and you should die.

Their answer to most of your other questions can be covered by either: 1. changing the rules in the 9th inning if a Democrat gets elected; and 2. the Rapture will soon come and rescue them. They've got it covered.

July 27, 2006 at 10:32 PM  
Blogger Praguetwin said...

I totally agree that we need a change of direction. I am not convinced that voting Democrat is going to help that much.

Pelosi and Reid's badgering of Maliki not only exemplifies how attached they are to the Israeli tit, but also shows how little they know about a politicians desire, no, DUTY to represent their constituancy.

There are certain Republicans I would vote for, and there are certain Democrats that should hauled out back, bound, gagged and... well fill in the blanks.

If we want real results we need to elect people, not Democrats or Republicans.

July 28, 2006 at 2:41 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Prague Twin: Can't argue with that. It's definitely the person and not the party. The important thing right now is to get this gang of crazed neocons out.

A lot of moderate Republicans are appalled by Bush, but for some reason there are always enough Republican votes for Bush to keep ramming his agenda through. Unless these non-wingnut Republicans make a blatant effort to distance themselves from Bush, they're in danger of being swept out on Bush's coattails when the public has finally had enough.

But other than that, politicians of both parties are corrupt and drunk on their own status and high-ranking positions. Whoever takes the neocons' place must be scrutinized and watched very closely, so that this never happens again.

July 28, 2006 at 10:50 AM  

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