Democrats Kill Democracy: Ironic, Isn’t It?

A few weeks ago, I met with Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) to ask why he does not support impeachment. His view was that many Presidents violated the Constitution, so what was the big deal? Besides, he said, Bush and Cheney will be repudiated in the 2008 election.

At the time, I thought this was bizarre—no actually, I thought it was stupid. The 2008 election will not be about Bush and Cheney, I told him. He just rolled his eyes at my apparent naiveté.

I felt a deep sadness as I drove home but was unable to articulate it. It was something more than Smith’s refusal to support impeachment. I had not gone into that meeting with an expectation that he would agree to live up to his oath of office. Maybe what made my heart hurt was the realization that I had become cynical?

That week brought another round of political realities. Give us money, begged former President and now multi-millionaire, Bill Clinton in yesterday’s letter with the requisite fear-inducing photos of the evil-doers—Bush-Cheney-Rove. With the money, he assured me, the Democrats would really hold their “feet to the fire.” The Democrat’s plan? Ads. Yes, that’s it. Every time Bush-Cheney-Rove abuse their power, the Democrats will buy an ad. That should fix those Republicans pandering to the right wing extremists!!

After I stopped laughing at this strategy cooked up by political consultants who get a percentage of the ad buys, I felt the wave of sadness and despair again. However, I still could not figure out the cause.

Something was clearly odd. Why would the Democrats prefer to act as if they were powerless and beg for money to buy useless ads rather than use the legitimate power granted by the Constitution? Why did the Democrats really take impeachment off the table as soon as they won a majority in Congress?

Clearly, I am slow on the uptake and the universe gave me another whack on the head to get my attention. This time it was an email from Adam Ruben of asking for money. His email led with, “What would a third Bush term look like?” He continued, “We can make sure the Bush era ends in 2008.” Just give us money, money, money to fight Bush.

The puzzle was now complete. I get the Democrats’ plan. The reason for my despair was also clear. Democracy is dead, killed, ironically, by the Democrats and their shills.

I have known for some time that our democracy has been deeply damaged by the Bush administration but optimism is my preferred way of being in the world. I thought the Democrats would restore our democracy.

When Democrats failed to be upset that the Bush administration defrauded them and the public about Iraq, it just seemed bizarre.

When Democrats told me that other Presidents have lied to take us into war, so why hold Bush accountable, I knew something was terribly wrong.

When Democrats shrugged their shoulders about illegal wiretapping and told me that Bush is merely restoring the power Presidents had before Watergate, I felt a cold chill.

When Democrats failed to read the intelligence reports that they had available to them in October 2002 and irresponsibly gave the President permission to illegally invade another country that posed no threat to us, I knew democracy was in serious trouble.

Now that I realize that Democrats are unwilling to begin impeachment investigations solely because they believe they will do better in 2008 with the Bush administration still in place, I know democracy is dead.

Democracy is dead. It is strange. It is an abstract idea.

What does it mean? It means everything I grew up believing about America is now untrue. Elections are mere illusions, meaningless contests that attract attention but make no difference. It is the political equivalent of American Idol. Why should I participate anymore?

Everything I learned in civics is no longer true. The government is no longer controlled by the governed. Sure, I can call and write my elected officials, but they do not care. Both Democrats and Republicans say polls do not influence their decisions; this might by the only honest statements they have made. Most Americans want them to bring the troops home now and to impeach Bush and Cheney, but that has not changed the behavior or actions of Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

It means that I can no longer teach American Government 101 because representative democracy—living and breathing—no longer exists.

The experiment in democracy has failed, killed by the Democrats who have abandoned their sacred duty and sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution in order to win elections. The Democrats have forgotten that their responsibility is to serve the public good, not to serve the narrow self-interests of their big financial donors and party leaders.

I now understand my sense of despair.

What I do about it, however, is unclear. Suggestions?

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