January 15, 2007

When ‘the Lesser’ Governs

I’m proud to say that I voted for several Democrats last November. But it wasn’t because I liked them. (I didn’t.) Or because I’m a Democrat. (I’m not.) Or even because I’m a liberal. (I’m actually fairly conservative.) No, I voted for these Democrats simply because they weren’t as bad as the Republicans running against them.

And if the Republicans nominate someone like John McCain next year, I imagine I’ll be voting for the Democratic presidential candidate. But again, it won’t be because he or she deserves it.

Like the GOP, the Dems are showing themselves to be a group whose political ambitions exceed their sense of responsibility. It just so happens that the Republicans, namely those in the White House, are worse.

But back to the Democrats. The American people voted them into Congress last November largely because of Bush’s incompetent handling of Iraq. Moreover, most of these voters hoped the Dems would force an end to the war.

But now that they’re in power, what are they doing to end it? Nothing. Not only that, but they’re not even preventing Bush from sending more troops.

Yes, the Dems are preparing to vote on a resolution that would express their disapproval of a surge in troops. But that vote would be purely symbolic, and Bush has made it clear that, no matter what, he will go ahead with his plan.

There’s also talk that the Dems might vote on a resolution that would demand that the President get their authorization before attacking Iran. But there’s no reason to believe that Bush would be deterred by that resolution—as he could argue that (a) Congress already authorized the war in Iraq, (b) Iran is funding the insurgency, and therefore (c) Congress has implicitly authorized an attack on Iran.

But the Democrats aren’t really as powerless as they may seem. Contrary to popular belief, they are capable of ending the war. All they have to do is defund it, a right afforded them by the U.S. Constitution. And they might be able to prevent an attack on Iran by, as Paul Craig Roberts suggests, making it clear that they will impeach Bush and Cheney if they attack Iran without receiving congressional authorization.

But the Dems are worried about the political consequences of these actions. If they defund the war, they might be accused of leaving our troops out to dry. And if they threaten to impeach Bush and Cheney, they might be perceived as being contentious. So, with only a few exceptions (e.g., Russ Feingold), the Democrats have decided to play it safe and let Bush go ahead with his hawkish ambitions.

Defunding the war, of course, wouldn’t be leaving our troops out to dry. The 2007 budget has already been signed into law, meaning that, no matter what Congress does, our troops will be funded for the remainder of the year. By refusing to fund the war in 2008, Congress would simply be forcing the president to bring them home by the end of the year.

And, although threatening to impeach Bush and Cheney would certainly be contentious, wasn’t their contentiousness against the Bush administration one of the main reasons they won last November?

So what we have on Capitol Hill today is politics as usual. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, along with the likes of Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, are too greedily eyeing next year’s elections to fulfill their campaign promises, let alone to do what they think is best for the country.

Of course, given who the Republicans nominate for president, many of us might again find ourselves voting Democratic in 2008. If that happens, however, let’s just try to remember that we are simply voting for the lesser of two evils—and not, say, a candidate actually worthy of our respect.

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