A Failed Ideology
There is a big political shift going on, and no I don’t mean the President’s shuffling of the cards in his stacked deck administration, I mean out here, in the real America. Bush is increasingly thought of as an idiot by the public (I don’t know what took so many people so long to figure out what was obvious from the start), his approval numbers keep sliding downward and one of our country’s leading historians, Sean Wilentz, has written a devastating piece about the Bush Presidency for this month’s Rolling Stone, titled, “The Worst President In History?” After reading the article, the natural inclination is to wonder what the question mark is for.
But what is happening now, may be about more than just one man, one failed President and five years of steady decline. It has been an experiment in neo-conservatism, an ideology long thought by those currently in power to offer salvation for this country. Well, they've had their chance to radically realign our government, foreign policy, military and presidential powers to reflect their ideology, and what we are left with is a country unrecognizable to most Americans. The Republican Party, by buying into the neo-conservative agenda and supporting this administration’s every move, may have shattered any hope of maintaining their “permanent majority.”
The American people are becoming increasingly aware of the very serious economic and geo-political problems facing our country and that is a direct result of Bush’s policies exacerbating the problems and bringing them directly to the kitchen tables of working people. The disaster of Bush’s making in Iraq is beginning to affect the people of this country in tangible ways. The war in Iraq is less of an abstract problem when we personally know people who have died or have been wounded in the line of duty, when we see our neighbor struggling to make ends meet while her husband is serving our country overseas, and when the price of gas causes real economic hardship as well as uncertainty about our future energy supplies. Republican rule has led us here, and our current dire predicament is not only a result of failed leadership, but of failed policy that stems from an inherently flawed and dangerous ideology.
If Bush is, in the end, viewed by history as the worst President ever, the only way that we the people won’t share in the blame, is if the truth comes out. The truth about the 2004 election, the truth about the extent of the illegal domestic surveillance, the truth about the lies that this administration peddled in order to lead us to war, the truth about the secret deals that were struck between our government and oil/energy companies, and the truth about how far this administration has gone to cover up all of these things. We are in the process of rejecting Bush, his policies and his objectives, but until we demand an end to the secrecy and reject the notion that there is no need to go back and look at what has been done, we will continue to share in the blame. We don’t need to wait for history to judge this President, we can judge him now, and we can change our place in history by at least attempting to clean up his mess.
Enduring five years of divisiveness, fear mongering, lost jobs and increasing disparity of wealth has made us tired. We are worn out from the decline and fearful about our future, but we are increasingly on the same page. Neo-conservatism was rejected by the left from the very beginning, we saw it as cynical and based on fantasy like assumptions that ignored history and logic, but it is now being rejected by the right as well. Two minority groups, the neo-cons and the religious fundamentalists, have taken control of the Republican Party much to the chagrin of true conservatives and moderates. The reality is, Republicans can’t win without these two extreme groups and the last five years has provided them the opportunity to take root within the Party, and in a two party system, that leaves only one place for those moderates to go. If Republicans want to hold onto their majority, they better purge their party of extremism and the first step is excising this President. It may not help them in the short term, but it could cut the length of time they will be shut out of government. They struck the deal with the devil, now they’ll have to pay the price.
The only way that we can stop the divisiveness in this country is if the Democrats can take the lead. This country can’t handle another President that supports this war. The situation in Iraq is not what we were told it would be, it is a burgeoning civil war that the American people don’t want anything to do with, and without public support, it can’t be won. We need a President that was against this war in the first place, a President that we can be assured won’t lead us down a similar path again, a President that will take bold action in solving the big problems that we as citizens are becoming more and more aware of.
We have to become energy independent, we have to address global warming, we have to invest in our infrastructure, we have to force American companies to invest in our future, we have to make the wealthiest among us sacrifice to bring the rest of us back up (we sacrificed to elevate them) and we have to become one country again. One country with common goals, and a common vision of what our country should be, divisiveness has brought us down, consensus will raise us up. Republicans must take the blame and Democrats must take the lead in finding the high road.
As Mr. Wilentz points out in his article for Rolling Stone, historians agree that Franklin Roosevelt was one of our best Presidents ever. He took control at a critical time in our history and took bold action to correct the problems we faced. Democrats pay a lot of lip service to FDR and laud him as one our Party greats, but what they really need to do right now is embrace the lessons learned from his leadership. We are again at a critical time in our country’s history, now is not the time for timidity and political triagulation, it is time for vision, leadership, honesty, efficiency, openness and action. The status quo is not good enough, and we cannot handle another failed presidency. Electing Republicans will guarantee failure but Democrats must convince us that they can not only mitigate the damage, but repair it as well. It’s what FDR would do.