I'm a progressive critic of the lackluster (to put it kindly) efforts of the Democrats over the past year in fighting Republican obstruction and carrying through on the programs and promises they campaigned on in 2008 to turn out the vote and obtain the large majorities in Congress they now enjoy. Some "progressives" as disappointed as I have have called for opposition to the Democrats over various legislation, including the inadequate health care reform bills up for consideration. Others have gone so far as to suggest a "boycott" or stay home from the polls approach to the 2010 elections.
Much as I am frustrated with the Democrats in Congress, I believe that approach by progressives would be a terrible mistake. What follows are the reasons why I've come to this conclusion.
Here's my quote of the day, to set the table as it were for the argument I'm going to make. It comes from an Iranian Fundamentalist Cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of Iran's Guardian Council, which supervises all elections in Iran, among other powers it exercises. The quote comes in response to renewed unrest in Iran, and the declaration by opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, that he does not fear death as a martyr.
During Friday prayer services in the capital city, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, a fundamentalist cleric who heads the powerful Guardian Council, called protesters "flagrant examples of corrupt on Earth" and effectively called for them to be executed as "in the early days of the revolution."
Wouldn't it be horrible to be governed by fundamentalist religious nuts who consider anyone who opposes them corrupt and who are more than willing to kill those who oppose their vision of of society ruled by God's law? And you wonder why we on the left here in America (and by left I mean anyone who doesn't swear allegiance to Sarah Palin) makes such a big deal about the secretive society of politicians and religious leaders known as "The Family" who also have some grand designs of their own regarding a government of the Godly, and only for the Godly, as they define them.
Two weeks into my stay, David Coe, Doug's son and the presumptive heir to leadership of the Family, dropped by the house. [...]
"You guys," David said, "are here to learn how to rule the world." [...]
He walked to the National Geographic map of the world mounted on the wall. "You guys know about Genghis Khan?" he asked. "Genghis was a man with a vision. He conquered"—David stood on the couch under the map, tracing, with his hand, half the northern hemisphere—"nearly everything. He devastated nearly everything. His enemies? He beheaded them." David swiped a finger across his throat. "Dop, dop, dop, dop."
David explained that when Genghis entered a defeated city he would call in the local headman and have him stuffed into a crate. Over the crate would be spread a tablecloth, and on the tablecloth would be spread a wonderful meal. "And then, while the man suffocated, Genghis ate, and he didn't even hear the man's screams." David still stood on the couch, a finger in the air. "Do you know what that means?" He was thinking of Christ's parable of the wineskins. "You can't pour new into old," David said, returning to his chair. "We elect our leaders. Jesus elects his."
He reached over and squeezed the arm of a brother. "Isn't that great?" David said. "That's the way everything in life happens. If you're a person known to be around Jesus, you can go and do anything.
Anyone who doesn't make the grade of course better watch their back. Just like the people of Iran who don't get with the program. Liberals, intellectuals, moderates, Jews, and, of course Gays, which Iran's fundamentalist religious leaders also believe homosexuality is a crime punishable by death.
And Outrage, in its release about the gay teens' execution, noted that, "according to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. Last August, a 16-year-old girl , [Atefeh Rajabi] was hanged [in the Caspian port of Neka] for 'acts incompatible with chastity,' [i.e., sex before marriage]."
The American media are quick to condemn the brutality of the religious extremists who govern Iran. Yet these people differ from the religious extremists in our own country in only one essential regard: they have control over the government of their country. Imagine what would happen if the Christian extremists in our land ever acquired that same power. We already know that many of these power mad individuals who espouse the most virulent and hateful form of Christianity have assumed control of much of the current Republican Party infrastructure at both the local and national levels.
That should be all you need to do to realize that as bad as the Democrats have been (and you know I have been more than critical of their failures both before and after Obama became President), abandoning support for them in the upcoming election cycle in 2010 is not a viable option. Unless you want the Rick Warrens or Doug Coes (or their lackeys) of the Christian Right in control of this nation's fate. For that is what will happen if we stay away from the polls and let the pied pipers of Fox News and all the crazies in the GOP lead their deluded tea bagging followers to increase the representation of Republicans in the Senate and the House.
Remember, when the Weimar Republic fell, the Nazis controlled only 30% of the Reichstag. But that was enough, with the help of their conservative allies, to stall effective legislation that would have prevented the collapse of a Democratic country intyo tyranny and dictatorship and fascism. We may not like a lot of the Democrats who represent us in the House and Senate.
We may be disappointed by the performance of the Obama administration in rejecting or failing to actively promote much of the progressive agenda many of us believe is necessary to return this country to prosperity. We may be severely disappointed that the bitter, illegal and ineffective decade long wars that George Bush and Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld instigated are still being pursued by this administration.
But when you look at the makeup of the other major political party in this country, and the insane beliefs systems of many of its leaders, the only conclusion that a rational person can draw is to fight even harder. Fight harder for progressive policies. Fight harder to win the public relations battle. Fight harder to convince the White House to adopt the programs and legislative goals that most Americans want to see passed into law.
And that means we must also fight harder to elect Democrats, even ones we may not like very much. Why? Because the alternative is a recipe for chaos and stagnation and history teaches us that those conditions increase the potential that any nation will cease to be governed by the Rule of Law and fall into the hands of despots with radical beliefs. Beliefs that will not only destroy "our freedoms" but end up killing many, many innocent people, both here and abroad.
The Democrats are a deeply flawed political party. The Republicans, however, harbor within their ranks a theocratic despotism based on the most violent and ugly interpretation of Biblical scripture. Based on those facts, the decision to continue to elect Democrats, and to work with and for change within the Democratic party is an easy one.