Saturday, December 1, 2007

Old Democratic Congress better than you think

Without that knockout punch to vanquish today's aggressive brand of conservatism once and for all, it's inevitable we're going to have to keep fighting ideas like the FairTax that are utterly fucking ridiculous. I know I'm thinking a little bit far ahead, but judging by what's gone on before, I think it's wise for me to do so.

That's why I come to you today to praise - yes, praise - the Democratic congressional leadership of the 1970s to 1990s. Revisionist commentators who rule the roost today paint a negative picture of these public figures. At best, you might hear today's talking heads say, "Well, the old Democrats meant well - but they had too many scandals and they were in power too long."

Riiiiight. Between the elections of 1980 and 1992, the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress for only 6 of those 12 years. The Republicans controlled the White House for all 12! In 1994, when the Democrats had controlled the White House for only 2 of the previous 14 years, the media portrayed the Republicans as the party of change.

Party of change my ass. It boggles the mind. It really does.

When you look at the Democrats' record from the '70s to '90s, a much different picture emerges. If you were a child in school, you may have benefited from laws to protect your privacy and to keep you from being discriminated against if you had a disability. Both of these laws were passed by a Democratic Congress. If you're a consumer of cable television, you got better service thanks to the Democrats' cable regulation law - after Congress overrode Mad Dog Bush's veto. The Americans with Disabilities Act also was passed by a Democratic Congress. So was an important housing law that protects families with children from discrimination.

The Congress of that era wasn't perfect - but it was far better than those who conspired to destroy our representatives who worked to bring us a better life.

The scandals that did plague the Democratic Congress in the late '80s and early '90s were by no means limited to Democratic members, despite what the media has long claimed. Perhaps the most publicized congressional scandal at the time was the check-bouncing flap, which affected Republicans at least as badly as it did the Democrats. Another scandal occurred when Newt Gingrich filed an ethics complaint against Democratic Speaker of the House Jim Wright's book sales. Gingrich later had ethics woes for something very similar when he was Speaker of the House, but the media never connived with his opponents to force him out of power.

Which Congress would you rather have? One corrupted by bribes from corporate superlobbyists and which actively tried to tear the country down, like the Congress between 1994 and 2006? Or one in which some members overdrew their House Bank accounts (an act that did not break any laws, unlike the bribes that were widespread in the later GOP Congress) but which passed some effective legislation and even overrode an obstructionist like Mad Dog Bush? I'm not saying writing bad checks in the House Bank or violating the limit on speaking fees was right. I'm not being partisan, for lately I've decided to change my registration to Green. I don't even agree with everything the Democratic Congress did, for they didn't do enough to stop Republican ideas from passing. I'm not being arrogant either, for I simply think the Republicans should've been held to the same standard the Democrats were held to. I'm just telling the truth: The scandals under the old Democratic Congress hurt public trust. The scandals under the later Republican Congress hurt the public. Both were bad. But it was only under the Republicans that Congress actively attempted to harm the country. Admit it: If you had to vote between the 103rd and the 104th Congresses, that would be the easiest decision of your life.

During the one measly term when Democrats controlled Congress and the presidency, Republicans complained government doesn't work - then they got "elected" to prove it.

The Republicans actually thought being out of power for only 2 years gave them a permanent entitlement. Notice also that the media stopped promoting term limits once the GOP stole Congress. The scoundrels of the Republican Right think that once they gain power, it should be theirs for good.

I think that if the electoral disaster of 1994 had not happened, all those soldiers who have been killed in the Iraq War would still be alive now. I think those 3,000 people in the World Trade Center would still be alive now too. I'm 100% certain of it. I believe this for several reasons: The partisanship after 1994 was so extreme that it's poisoned political debate ever since. Congressional Republicans' support of the Taliban in the '90s is another factor (at least where 9/11 is concerned).

The conservatism of the Republican Party didn't used to be so toxic. The brand that was most common 30 years ago generally wasn't malicious - unlike what you see now. Cheney, DeLay, the current Bush, and many of their pals are simply evil. There's just no other way of saying it. They're evil, but they're good liars. They are lifelong bullies. Period.

I have a feeling this breed of conservatives is going to be spoiling for a fight soon enough. They get that way every few years. When this happens, remember just how miserable they've made things.

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