Wednesday, May 21, 2008

We Need More Democrats Like Joe Lieberman

For some time now, I've been watching the political parties shifting, shuffling, posturing, and what have you. It's interesting to me to find that I'm not the only one who has had this on my mind of late.
I like Joseph Lieberman. I may not see eye to eye with him on a number of issues, but basically, when it comes down to it, he's a helluva guy, and I like him. Lieberman is one of those rare individuals who has the intestinal fortitude not to go with the majority of his party when he sees that they're wrong.

It also seems he's been thinking along the same lines that I have, the past few weeks, in thinking about how we got were we are today as a nation. In an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, Lieberman discusses his opinion of when things started going, in his opinion, south for the Democrats, and for America. In looking over his article, I have to say, I agree.

Lieberman begins with an overview of the Democratic party up until and through World War II, discussing the character of leadership displayed by Presidents Roosevelt, Truman, and the potential of JFK and what might have been, there. The character began to change, as did the party, during the 60's.

This worldview began to come apart in the late 1960s, around the war in Vietnam. In its place, a very different view of the world took root in the Democratic Party. Rather than seeing the Cold War as an ideological contest between the free nations of the West and the repressive regimes of the communist world, this rival political philosophy saw America as the aggressor – a morally bankrupt, imperialist power whose militarism and "inordinate fear of communism" represented the real threat to world peace.

It argued that the Soviets and their allies were our enemies not because they were inspired by a totalitarian ideology fundamentally hostile to our way of life, or because they nursed ambitions of global conquest. Rather, the Soviets were our enemy because we had provoked them, because we threatened them, and because we failed to sit down and accord them the respect they deserved. In other words, the Cold War was mostly America's fault.

This was the era in which we began the "blame America" syndrome that has reached such epidemic proportions in our country today. This is the era in which socialist thinking began to really, deeply entrench itself into our nation, affecting the thinking and philosophy of democrat and republican alike. John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Since his death, throughout most of my life, I've seen this country doing the exact opposite of the altar call that Kennedy is lauded and praised for giving. We have become more and more the nation of the public teat, the earmark, the pork, the special interest, and less and less the rugged individualistic nation that generated the heroes and legends that my generation grew up on.

That all changed in the 60's, however, as the Democrats became inundated with European political theory for the first time since the foundation of the United States to a degree that the uniqueness of the American political experiment was under assault from a more radical, socialistic ideology. Along the way since then, the Democratic party of today is nothing like the Democratic party of 50 years ago; it's more of something along the lines of western European Socialism. And after 9/11, the party has taken an even more drastic change.

Today, less than a decade later, the parties have completely switched positions. The reversal began, like so much else in our time, on September 11, 2001. The attack on America by Islamist terrorists shook President Bush from the foreign policy course he was on. He saw September 11 for what it was: a direct ideological and military attack on us and our way of life. If the Democratic Party had stayed where it was in 2000, America could have confronted the terrorists with unity and strength in the years after 9/11.

Instead a debate soon began within the Democratic Party about how to respond to Mr. Bush. I felt strongly that Democrats should embrace the basic framework the president had advanced for the war on terror as our own, because it was our own. But that was not the choice most Democratic leaders made. When total victory did not come quickly in Iraq, the old voices of partisanship and peace at any price saw an opportunity to reassert themselves. By considering centrism to be collaboration with the enemy – not bin Laden, but Mr. Bush – activists have successfully pulled the Democratic Party further to the left than it has been at any point in the last 20 years.

Far too many Democratic leaders have kowtowed to these opinions rather than challenging them. That unfortunately includes Barack Obama, who, contrary to his rhetorical invocations of bipartisan change, has not been willing to stand up to his party's left wing on a single significant national security or international economic issue in this campaign.

This party line mentality is part of what's undoing our nation from within. Rather than being an open forum for discussion and discourse, for debate and direction, our Congressional chambers have become divided camps, sitting in siege of each other during each legislative session (I hold both parties equally responsible for this, by the way, before anyone gets all up in a twist that I'm blaming just the Democrats). Party line mentality has also crept into the system to such a degree that it has spread to the public at large, creating such phenomena as "Bush Derangement Syndrome," in which George Bush is blamed for everything from 9/11 to Katrina, the Minnesota bridge collapse, rampant gas prices, and reality television. Party line mentality prevents us from becoming independent of foreign oil for energy, and overburdens the middle class. Party line mentality creates class envy and class hatred, in the classic form of the bohemian versus the bourgeoisie.

The United States is suffering from a state of self-inflicted turmoil, foisted upon itself by allowing her ideology to become indoctrinated by failed economic and social policies of the European continent, policies that Europe has been abandoning and that we, a decade or two behind in our thinking as we try to emulate the Europeans, allowing our elected officials (i.e. the Presidency) to appoint life-term judges who are creating law from the bench, rather than doing their jobs and interpreting the law in light of the Constitution of the United States. Party line mentality keeps our nation at the whim of the United Nations, a body whose very actions work in conflict with our interests time and time again.

Party line mentality creates a Senate and a Congress that do nothing other than undermine the work of the Executive branch and authorize the changes of name of postal facilities.

Party line mentality has it's place when it comes to election time, and time for debate, to make sure that the voice of the people is heard. Party line mentality has no place in creating deadlock situations in which the nations business can not be accomplished. Party line mentality has no business in attaching amendments to pending legislation that make it unacceptable for being signed into act (the attachments on the military funding that would legalize illegal aliens).

In 2006, the American people voted to send new representation from a number of districts to Washington in order to send a message to the government that the government works for the people, the people do not work for the government. That message was misinterpreted and taken as a green light to further divide the nation along party lines.

How will Lieberman's column affect his standing in the Democratic party? Some are already privately discussing that Lieberman will not have a place in the party if he works against Obama in the general election. To do so would place the currently listed Independent Lieberman on the Republican side of the aisle; however, he's not the only Senator crossing support to the other party. Nebraska's Senator Chuck Hagel, a close friend of McCain, has been critical of McCain's candidacy as of late.

Election-year disloyalty goes both ways. Sen. Chuck Hagel, the Nebraska Republican and close McCain friend, called out his party's presumptive nominee at an event Tuesday night. "I'm very upset with John with some of the things he's been saying," Hagel said.

He singled out McCain's withering rebuke of Obama for advocating "appeasement" by expressing a willingness to engage in high-level talks with Iran.

Senator Hagel has been in government for a long time. Long enough to realize that in the race for the Presidency, the gloves have to come off at some point. If this one item is enough for Hagel to turn on McCain, it shows exactly how much of a break down is going on not only in the Democratic party over the Obama/Clinton fight, but how much the Republican party is breaking down as well.

"I never understand how anyone in any realm of civilized discourse could sort through the big issues and challenges and threats and figure out how to deal with those without engaging in some way," Hagel said.

There are two things that are certain during this past couple of years leading up to this years Presidential election: America is watching, and so are her enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Why do I say we need more Democrats like Joseph Lieberman? Actually, for the same reason I believe, after writing this piece, that we need more Republicans like John McCain, leaders who are willing to work together for the good of the nation rather than sticking only to the party line. Democrats like Lieberman are a perfect example of why I personally spent so many years as an Independent myself, rather than declaring for either party. Who knows? If there were more Democrats who WERE like Joseph Lieberman, I might have considered the Democratic Party myself when I finally did declare for one side or the other.

Once and Always, an American Fighting Man


No comments: