home > archive > 2004 > this article
Redemption and the Democrats
By Bruce Walker
The Democrat Party comes by its dishonesty honestly. America has experienced totalitarianism once, in the Ku Klux Klan dominated post-bellum South, where in some states virtually every federal and state elected official was a Democrat.
Complementing rigid one-party rule in thirty percent of America was rampant urban Bossism in another twenty percent of America. Boss Tweed, Boss Hague, Boss Daley, Boss Pendergast, Boss Curley and almost all the big city machines that dominated large cities like New York and Chicago for decades at a time were Democrat.
Corrupt labor unions formed the third peg of Democrat hegemony, which safely delivered another ten percent or so of the vote. Collectively, these groups comprised an unwilling majority of the American people which meant not presidential popularity - except for FDR, Democrats have done notoriously poorly in presidential elections - but rather control of Congress, of state legislatures, of governorships, of city councils, of mayors and of other elected officials.
It is not coincidence that reformers, even when they were ideologically out of step with conservatives, almost invariably came from within the Republican Party. Robert M. LaFollette was a Republican. Fiorello LaGuardia was a Republican. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudy Giuliani are Republicans.
Three times in the last century great Americans who had no partisan tag have had the opportunity to virtually choose the nomination of either political party and then, almost certainly, be elected president after that. Herbert Hoover, after his relief efforts following The Great War the most beloved person on the planet, a man never involved seriously in politics, when compelled to choose a political party, chose the Republican Party.
Dwight Eisenhower, who we now know was offered the Democrat nomination on a silver platter in 1952 -- Surprise! Truman's own recently discovered, manuscript diaries show Truman lied and Ike told the truth -- instead chose to fight against Robert Taft, one of the four United States Senators honored specially by the Senate itself, for the Republican nomination.
Colin Powell, who polls showed would waltz to the Democrat or Republican nomination in 1996, declined both and has remained aloof from politics - except to make it clear that he is a Republican and not a Democrat.
The myth of partisan symmetry is like the myth of moral symmetry during the Cold War. Nixon was forced to resigned because Republican leaders compelled him to resign; Clinton was allowed to stay in office because Democrat leaders closed ranks behind him.
The "Big Tent" of the Democrat Party is simply the same sort of big tent that Atilla the Hun or Genghis Khan embrace. It has been a party big enough to embrace Soviet spies like Congressman Dickstein, United Nations Secretary General Alger Hiss, and Assistant Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White and to also embrace Ku Klux Klan members like Democrat Senate Leader Robert Byrd, Attorney General Tom Clark and Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. Now that is diversity!
Small wonder, then, that John Kerry lies about being in Cambodia at Christmas in 1968, lies about being Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, lies about throwing away his decorations and lies about -- what else? -- to grab cheap, shallow, transitory political advantages.
This is the party that was ready to reelect Gary Condit, if Condit won the Democrat congressional nomination. This is the party that opposed the recall of Gray Davis and that supported the reelection of Davis over Bill Simon in the November 2002.
This is the party that found no one to run against Robert Torricelli in the New Jersey senatorial primary, but illegally replaced him when it appeared he would - gasp! - lose a seat for Democrats. This is the party that wanted Rostenkowski to win reelection, despite his indictment and conviction by a Clinton appointed U.S. Attorney.
This is the party that had considered, until a few days ago, Jim McGreevey as a rising young star. This is the party that almost nominated a man who thought the Soviet Union still was alive and that presidents can order state legislatures to end Right to Work.
This is the party whose current nominee recalled a "Pope Pius XXIII" and a "Mr. King" who was killed by racists in Texas. Only there has never been a "Pope Pius XXIII" and "Mr. King" was the murderer, not the murder victim. John Kerry never was never Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee (indeed, he has scarcely bothered to attend its meetings) and he was never in Cambodia at Christmas in 1968.
Why all these fantastic lies? The answer is as sad and pathetic as it is easy and simple: Democrats do not care about the truth, at least at the national level, any longer. Perhaps a crop of young Democrats in the Heartland will rise up and transform the party of Clinton, Kerry and Byrd into something decent (we should all fondly hope so) but not this year, not this election.
America can have a five or six party system. It can have a nonpartisan system. It can have a one party system, provided that Republican primaries are open and fair. America cannot, however, have a two party system in which one of the two major parties lies with impunity and recklessness. Either the party of Adlai Stevenson, Scoop Jackson and Hubert Humphrey needs to take very thorough bath or it needs to pass into the history books.
When Kerry lies about things that are ridiculously easy to disprove, then it is five seconds to midnight for the Democrat Party. I am not rooting for the death of that political party; I am rooting for its redemption.
Bruce Walker is a senior writer with Enter Stage Right. He is also a frequent contributor to The Pragmatist and The Common Conservative.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996 - 2005, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.