Monday, September 19, 2005

When will Democrats find their voice?

I read John Kerry's speech today, and I was impressed with the new fire in his words. He seems genuinely angry and ready to engage this administration on both Katrina and Iraq. It's good to see a prominent establishment Democrat take on the Bush administration with real energy, speaking directly, avoiding the usual accomodationist rhetoric we have heard for five years from Democrats apparently afraid of alienating anyone by telling the truth about our Naked Emperor.
But it's too late for Kerry. He should have given a speech like this during the debates, and told the American people how they had been sold, were still being sold, a bill of goods by this corporate/political complex that values Halliburton above the people it is sworn to protect.
And it's too late for another reason. It's mostly an indictment of the Bush administration for failures that everyone already knows about. Now that Bush's approval ratings are hovering in the high thirties, it's clear that he has failed. His presidency, as E. J. Dionne said last week, is over. And Kerry, or whoever the Democrats will nominate in 2008, will not run against Bush; that would be easy. He will run against a Republican who will promise a "new beginning" or a "clean slate," and he or she will be a "new face." The Republicans will find a new label for their version of the corporate state, will promise to finally, really build a New New Orleans (or a New Houston if Hurricane Rita becomes Katrina II). But it will be as much of a scam as Bush peddled. And they will probably win on that new slogan. Why? Because Republicans will shed Bush like an old sneaker. Because Republicans are aggressive and smart, not to say totally amoral politically. And because the Democrats always passively let the Republicans define them -- in the worst possible terms.
What is needed now is not more criticism of Bush from Democrats, but a criticism of the Republican ideology and re-statement of classic Democratic values: hard work should be rewarded, the least among us must be cared for, the environment must be protected, the power of corporations must be curbed, people must have trust in the democratic process, innovation, community, and fiscal responsibility. Capitalism, yes, with a human face. An insistence that Democrats and their programs have indeed worked in the past, and will work in the future. What's so hard about that?
Where is that voice in the US Senate? Perhaps Kerry will flesh out his positions with positive proposals for bringing home the troops from Iraq and reconstructing New Orleans. Until he, or some other Democrat does, all I hear is crickets from our side.

No comments: