Politics, Evil, and the Bailout

Democrats are acting as if they don't care about America.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

- Robert J. Hanlon

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action, Mr Bond.

- Auric Goldfinger

If you watch the TV election coverage, a common theme is a plaintive cry against the "excessive partisanship" and rancor found in Washington.

Why can't we all just negotiate in a spirit of respect and amity?  Don't we all want what's best for the country?  Why, it would be so much easier to solve all our problems, if it weren't for those lousy, self-centered, treasonous Republican (or, occasionally, Democratic) political hacks!... and yet another phony appeal to brotherhood goes down in flames.

The fact is, as long as we live in a free country there are going to be disagreements.  There are going to be differing views, sometimes wildly differing views, on how problems ought to be addressed and what should be done in any given situation.

Politics, by definition, is the way we argue things out and come to some sort of decision.  If we had no disagreements, if everyone felt exactly the same way about every issue, we wouldn't need politics or even politicians - we could just pick any one of us to run things, and not worry about it thereafter.

A certain degree of disagreement is thus not only to be expected, it's a sign of health.  But there is a germ of relevance to the complaints about the way our leaders seem to treat each other.

If you have a disagreement with someone, you can sit down and talk through it, and maybe come up with a solution that both sides can swallow.  If your opponent is the Devil Incarnate though, there's no point in talking with them - they're only going to lie anyway.

Better just to shoot them on sight, or to automatically resist anything that comes out of their mouth.  This is not an effective path to political compromise, or even political effectiveness.

In the British parliament, there is a term used for the minority party: the "loyal opposition."  Both halves of this phrase are equally important.

Yes, the minority party is the opposition - they are going to oppose many things, if not most, that the majority tries to accomplish.  In a democracy, this is good, because it keeps the majority honest.  If they're doing something bad, it ought to be opposed, and if they are doing something good, at the least they should be able to explain why it's good in a persuasive way.

But both the majority and the minority know that they are loyal - that is, when all is said and done, they're all still loyal to Queen and Country and truly want what's best for both of them.

This is exactly what we don't see in our Congress.  The Democrats believe that the Republicans are there for the purpose of destroying government and funneling tax money to their corporate cronies instead of ordinary people.  The Republicans believe that the Democrats truly believe that government knows best and should control virtually every aspect of all of our lives, thus destroying the freedoms and liberties traditionally ours.

Surely they need to step back and think of each other as a "loyal opposition."  Don't they?

Here's where we run into a problem: "Even the paranoid have enemies."  We understand that the Democrats and Republicans come at things from totally different points of view; that is as it should be.  The more points of view can get a hearing, the more likely we are to find the correct solution.  We expect vehement, articulate, and well-reasoned disagreement.

There is an increasing record of actions, though, that even from the stated point of view of the Democrats make no sense.

Iraq is a Hard Place

Consider the war in Iraq.  The Democrats have long advocated a "moral" foreign policy, from the days of Jimmy Carter right up through Bill Clinton's intervention in the Balkans, and even today in Sudan.  When people suffer under oppression, Democrats tend to think that we should do something to help.

Why, then, do they not support the Iraq war on those grounds?  There is no debate that Saddam Hussein used poison gas on his own people in Kurdistan.  There is no question that he tried to exterminate the Marsh Arabs through an environmental holocaust that makes Dick Cheney look like a Greenpeace member.  Our soldiers have unearthed hundreds of thousands of tortured bodies from mass graves.

For all that the war has cost lives, it is definitely fewer lives than Saddam took, and unlike while Saddam reigned supreme, Iraqis now have hope for the future.  There were other reasons for the Iraq invasion which Democrats might not have found as important as Republicans did; but even on the Democrats' own terms, the Iraq war was justified - as virtually all of them said at the time.  For what reason are they changing their tune?

Wall Street Gets Paved

Think of the bailout of Wall Street.  It's a fact that Republican President Bush and his Treasury secretary have requested a gargantuan amount of money which will, arguably, bail out the fat cats who caused the problem in the first place.  Nobody would be surprised if the Democrats said, 'Not just no, but Hell No!"  That would be in keeping with their stated philosophy of helping the little guy.

That's not what they're doing.  Instead, they're taking Paulson's bill, larding it up with pork that helps not poor people but extreme leftist political operatives... then refusing to pass it themselves even though they have a clear majority in both House and Senate and could do so without one single Republican vote.  News reports indicate that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi didn't even try to get her own Democrats to support the bill that she herself had negotiated and called essential for our economy.  What's going on?

It's possible that the Democrats are just incompetent cretins, but if that's so, how the heck did they not only gain majorities in Congress, but look to enlarge those majorities in a few weeks?  They clearly aren't fools.

Or it could be that something came up to change their minds, but if you truly believe that this is a national crisis, wouldn't a patriotic American at least attempt to explain what the problem was and give the reasons for voting as they did?  The American people overwhelmingly hate this bailout bill; there would be nothing the least bit dishonorable about standing up and saying, "Our constituents have been yelling at us night and day not to do this, and in a democracy we cannot disregard 90% of our voters."  That would make sense.

Instead, they say publicly that the bill is essential, then take no useful action to pass it.  That reeks of political gamesmanship.

A number of pundits have put forth conspiracy theories.  The most cogent speculation is that the Democratic leadership believes two things:

a) The economy is in trouble, but not such dire trouble as to cause a Great Depression next week.

b) Democrats do better during times of economic troubles, so politically speaking, it's wiser to let the country twist in the wind a few more weeks, sweep the field on Nov. 4, and return next year with a bigger majority and do whatever they darn well please.

For this theory to be correct, it would require the Democrats to consciously be lying to the American people, to consciously prolong the suffering of ordinary people and indeed to try to make it worse for the sole purpose of benefiting themselves by that suffering.  If that's not treason, it's pretty close, and for sure it's not the actions of a loyal opposition much less the majority party that they are.

But if you assume that theory to be true, and then compare the known actions of the Democrats to what you'd expect of evil people who truly don't care about anything except their own personal power, it lines up almost exactly.

The Democrats have repeatedly harmed our troops in combat by holding their funding hostage, called for their immediate removal in retreat and defeat, privately undercut the official diplomatic negotiations of our Department of State and President, and basically treated the war as of no more importance than a political football.  They are now doing much the same with our economy.

Confront Evil?  Name It First

Deciding that your opponents are, in fact, truly evil, is a desperately dangerous decision.  It's dangerous for you because it can lead to paranoia and madness, as somewhat happened to Richard Nixon; it's dangerous for the country because it means nothing will get done without, at the least, vicious and destructive infighting; and it's dangerous for society, because so much visible nastiness leads to the total distrust of government, leaders, and governance as a whole that we see today.

But not calling evil what it is can be even more dangerous, as Neville Chamberlain found out when he thought he'd cut a deal with Hitler, only to find his country engulfed in the most destructive war in history.

As writers and observers, we of Scragged don't bear the burden of political responsibility; still, we care very deeply about our country, and truly wish it well, if only for our grandchildren's sake.  We've pointed out previously that we need the Democratic party to keep the Republicans honest; we have absolutely no desire for a one-party state, even if on its face that one party agrees with us.

A republican democracy must have a loyal opposition; there must be at least some level of trust between the two sides; and all parties must not only visibly love their country and care about it strongly enough to actually follow their oaths of office, but know that the other side feels the same way.

They certainly don't act like they know that now.  Every week gives more cause for concern.

As Americans, if we are able to find common ground, we can work together and solve any problem.  We always have, but the common ground has been a deep and abiding love of our country.  As long as that's still there, we can move forward even through our disagreements - witness Joe Lieberman and John McCain, who disagree on just about everything except the war but truly respect and love each other as patriots and leaders.

But if that common ground of patriotism simply is there no more... we're in for a far worse time than we even imagine.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Economics.
Reader Comments
Re: "even on the Democrats' own terms, the Iraq war was justified - as virtually all of them said at the time. For what reason are they changing their tune?

BECAUSE $10 billion a month is a lot of money and some of us would prefer it to be spent on schools and healthcare and Afghanistan.

BECAUSE as Sarah Palin says, we already have had our victory, so - since we have won - why not get out? Simply declare victory and leave.

BECAUSE there are signs of worsening relations between Kurds and Arabs, and it would not be good to be in Iraq if fighting breaks out between them.

BECAUSE if the job of maintaining peace in Iraq is so important, why don't other countries volunteer to join the effort? Maybe they know something that we don't?
October 1, 2008 3:41 PM
To answer your questions,

1. Because a job worth doing, is worth doing well.

2. Because although the victor can declare victory, the victor can't decide when the war is over. Only the loser can do that, by giving up or dying - and the terrorists have not yet done that. We're on the right path, but we could lose it all by stopping now as Gen Petraeus reminds us.

3. That's a good reason why we should stay there, actually. The presence of the police limits fighting in a lot of places, by presenting it from beginning at all - and after a while, the groups get used to getting along.

4. Yes, they do know something we don't - we can do the job, they can't. When was the last time any European country other than England was able to accomplish anything positive militarily without the US?
October 2, 2008 8:12 AM

If we pull out, many thousands of Iraqis will probably be killed by the resurgence of violence left in our wake. What are your compassionate Democrat thoughts on that?

Or do you not care, as long as you get a political victory?
October 2, 2008 11:04 AM
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