When we tolerate manipulation of our political system -- our very democracy -- there can be painful consequences that follow. In the new century, such consequences did occur and are too enormous and long term to even fathom. A repetition is on the horizon.
As we all know, our political system is broken. Not even the President of the United States can fix it, although he campaigned on it and tried. Only the American people have the power to change our politics. Before describing how, you may want to look at the problem.
The current characteristics of our two major parties differ in some respects. The Republican Party usually has fewer members, but more money to finance elections and is more unified. It almost always operates as one body either when in power or when opposing the other party. The Republican Party is dominated by its right wing. Most moderates have either left the party or need not apply. With fewer members but more money, their tendency is to use extreme measures to regain power. Obstructive politics and money are their ways of compensating for a smaller party.
The Democrats are just the opposite. They usually have more members but less money. Members are more diverse and range from the extreme left and left of center to the center and right of center. They ordinarily do not operate as one body either when in or out of power. With the advantage of greater numbers, their means to regain power tend to be more straight forward, but not always.
The swing voters are the many independents. They shift their support from one party to the other depending on a number of factors, but mainly the economy and a particular party’s agenda, reputation and present image. The independents are the target of both parties because they will determine the outcome of the election. For example, the more one party can misrepresent the image of the other, the greater chance it has to attract independent voters and win the election.
In recent times, the political process in our country has gone awry. The Republican Party, hijacked by its right wing, acts as if it has a divine right to run the country, even when it does so badly. When they are removed from power, they use extreme measures to prevent success of the next administration. Obstruction is the order of the day. Our politics are getting worse, not better. There is little chance today that our two political parties will work together in the public interest.
Meanwhile, our government is not nearly as effective as it should be, and our country is headed toward second-rate power status. Some advanced countries are surpassing us in things like economic growth, clean energy technologies and education. The 20th century belonged to America; the 21st may not unless we change our politics and progress further as a nation.
REWARDING DESTRUCTIVE POLITICS
LEADS TO BAD GOVERNMENT
The book "Misuse of Power" traces the right-wing’s ascendancy to power and how they misused that power to regain the White House. Previous to the Clinton presidency, Republicans had owned the White House for 12 years and were outraged by their loss to Clinton at the ballot box. He was seen as a usurper, his election illegitimate, and he had to be driven from the White House. As a result, the Republican right wing declared war on the Clinton administration. They used subversive politics to undermine his administration and strengthen their position in the next election.
Their politics of personal destruction included worthless investigations, wasting over $100 million of taxpayer money. They did not close these investigations and clear the President until the end of his two terms. They also undermined Clinton’s middle class health care proposal, fearing it would assure his reelection.
The right wing violated the U.S. Constitution twice in their efforts to destroy Clinton’s administration. The first was a government shut-down in an attempt to force the President to accept a congressional budget that he disapproved of. This tactic failed. The second was Clinton’s illegitimate impeachment based on a right-wing conspiracy. This tactic succeeded at least partially. Following the conspiracy, the House of Representatives railroaded his impeachment in a lame-duck session, using political blackmail to get the necessary votes. (See right-wing conspiracy chronology.) After some passage of time, Independent Counsel Starr and Judiciary Chairman Hyde would express regret over their role in this matter.
The various attempts to destroy the Clinton administration and remove him from office created a media frenzy. This, in turn, eased the way for a right-wing takeover of the White House in a very close and controversial election in year 2000. This shift in control by a political party occurred despite a successful economy and large Clinton surpluses at the end of his two terms. The right-wing wanted Bush as their presidential nominee and again used the politics of personal destruction to eliminate the leading Republican contender, Senator McCain.
After retaking power, the Republican right wing gave us two failed administrations. They engaged in two unfunded wars (one unneeded) and mismanaged both. They did not reduce nuclear weapons or control their proliferation. They continued our dangerous addiction to foreign oil while ignoring clean energy alternatives. They did not intervene in the Katrina disaster in time to prevent much loss of life and human suffering. They doubled our national debt in spite of inheriting huge Clinton surpluses. They sold so much of our debt to Far East countries that these countries now have leverage over our foreign policy and domestic economy. They cut taxes for the wealthy, but gave us the worst job creation record in decades. They left the current administration with (1) a $1.3 trillion deficit, (2) the worst economy since the Great Depression and (3) a diminished world view of America.
The crowning blow, however, was a grave breach of official duty at the very highest level of government. The right-wing administration had accurate and reliable information on the approaching 9/11 attacks and how they would occur, but they did not inform the public of the impending attacks or make an attempt to stop them. Offensive and defensive measures to thwart the attacks were available, but the President did not use them. To this day, the administration’s cover-up has succeeded and the public still does not know why our nation was left so unprepared. (See 9/11 attack chronology.)
Ironically, the right-wing administration’s neglect of unprecedented 9/11 warnings created a national crisis, the aftermath of which was exploited politically to gain unchecked executive power, take control of Congress, sell a war in Iraq, and secure a second term. The full story can be found at: http://www.dailykos.com/...
REWARDING DESTRUCTIVE POLITICS MUST END
In a representative democracy, success depends on whether the media and Congress keep the public well informed. While the last two right wing administrations went astray, the public was uninformed and misinformed. The right-wing controlled Congress behaved as administration puppets and the investigative capacity of our media has largely disappeared. A USA/Gallup poll rated President Bush’s performance worse than any of his five predecessors. His performance even trailed presidents rejected for a second term. Yet, our country reelected this failed presidency. Our democracy is not working the way it should.
Desperate again to regain power, the right wing has resurrected the McCarthyism era, smearing our current President with terms like Communist, questioning his patriotism and accusing him of not being an American citizen. Their "vile extremist rhetoric" has demonstrated little respect for the democratic process and our institutions. Senator McCarthy left Congress a broken man with a ruined reputation. A number of right-wing spokesmen and their media counterparts await a similar fate.
The right wing obsession with power and control of government leads to constant political warfare and takes precedence over advancing our country. Misrepresentation and distortion to incite public anger are their main tools. They are ruthless, promote hate and division, and encourage formation of anti-government militia groups, capable of domestic terrorism and insurrection. Their leaders and lobbyists twist the facts, spread fear, cheer extremists on and then assume no responsibility for their irresponsible behavior.
Right-wing Republicans have become malcontents, constantly misrepresenting the President’s intentions. One Governor referred to their tactics as reaching "almost the level of sedition." They have provided no good ideas or sound alternatives to help get our country back on track. Those who voted for the last two failed right-wing administrations only have themselves to blame. They voted for the government officials who brought our country to its knees. They must take responsibility for their votes and stop blaming a succeeding administration.
The right wing put our economy and national debt into a deep hole, but has done nothing about it except harass the President for not digging us out soon enough. The President had no choice but to increase the national debt to rescue the financial system and aid companies on which our economy depends. Otherwise, we would have had to suffer a total financial collapse of the country -- a Hoover-style Great Depression. The right wing constantly raises the issue of deficit spending, but conveniently ignores their responsibility for it. Now, during an election year of discontent, they are using the very deficits they created to promote a return to power.
President Obama has reached out to right-wing leaders by inviting them to the White House, meeting with them at the capitol and participating in a televised Republican conference. However, these leaders reportedly have told their members not to cooperate or work with him on anything. Joseph Cao, a Representative of a poor Louisiana district, was the sole Republican to vote for the House health care bill. He did so simply because his constituents wanted him to. Afterwards, he was told that the Republican Party would not fund his reelection. He voted against the final health care bill. According to the President, 136 of his nominees for federal posts have been "intentionally delayed by Republican leaders."
The right wing has set its sights on retaking control of Congress in 2010 and the White House in 2012, although it will take decades to recover from their last two administrations. Some will claim the right wing has learned its lesson. But, their leaders in Congress remain the same and they can revert to their old ways at any time. We’ve yet to see good deeds, good ideas and forward going leadership on things like regulating Wall Street, a clean and independent energy future, a more livable planet and Immigration reform. Instead, in anticipation of taking over the House in November, they are planning a massive increase in investigative staff and issuing voluminous subpoenas. This would take us back to the Clinton days when the right wing employed the politics of personal destruction and issued more than 1000 subpoenas.
Republican leaders today have a serious attitude problem. Rather than rebuilding their Party based on solid accomplishments, they focus on defeating anything the President tries to do and have set a new record for filibustering in Congress. They want to regain power the easy way by obstructing rather than the hard way by demonstrating leadership and good works. They allow things to get worse for the American people so things will get better for them, and they can retake power. Is this the kind of leadership we want for our country? When a Minority Party acts irresponsibly, it follows that they will be irresponsible when in the Majority. That is what happened the last time the right wing took power using destructive tactics.
Great moderates of the Republican Party have for the most part vanished and their Party’s stature has steadily declined ever since. Influential leaders included Arthur Vandenberg, Everett Dirksen, Jacob Javits, George Aiken, John Sherman Cooper, Charles Percy, Edward Brooke, Howard Baker, Robert Dole, Charles Mathias, William Cohen, Chuck Hagel and (still in Congress) Senator Lugar. Instead of sitting on the sidelines and rooting for presidential failure, Senator Lugar has created new energy legislation designed to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase energy efficiency and rely more on reusable fuels. He is the model of the kind of Republican we need in Congress.
In earlier times, moderate Republican leaders advanced our country in many ways and were the loyal opposition when it really counted. They were the ones the country could depend on in times of crisis. Presidents Eisenhower and Reagan depended on the support of moderates as well as Democrats during their two terms. President Bush had practically none to depend on. One former business executive and moderate Republican explained why:
"We are an ‘endangered species’ ... my wing of the party has been swept into oblivion by the ultra right, which now controls the Republican agenda."
The right-wing Republican Party poses the greatest single danger in decades to our nation’s welfare and they are making a mockery of our democracy. They will undoubtedly continue in their attack mode and misinformation campaign until power returns to them, whether deserved or not. There is a real danger of another failed administration in the not too distant future. As Dan Balz of the Washington Post said in his column of July 3, 2010 regarding the next Congress:
How could the Republican minority leader "still bring harmony on Capitol Hill" when he led a "united and angry opposition to the president"?
HOW VOTERS CAN CHANGE OUR POLITICS
The first step is to broaden the base of the Republican Party, bring back moderates and encourage responsible leadership. Unfortunately, the Republican Party is now going in the opposite direction. If voters will reject this move to the extreme right, new leaders will likely surface and the Party can return to its more successful broader base.
The second step is to follow the basic principle that, when one party is defeated, they must pay a price and it must be done in the public interest. Once intense campaigning and political infighting is over, our system of democracy demands that we pull together and support the newly-elected President. The losing party becomes the loyal opposition and the winning candidate becomes the President of all the people. Minority leaders must be team players, especially in times of national crisis. America must always come first over political party.
A sure way to encourage this kind of behavior is for voters to remove politicians who employ destructive tactics and leave obstructionist parties in the minority. This is how the American people can change our politics, unite the country and stop government gridlock. They are the only ones with the power to do so.
It’s not that Democrats are innocent of dirty politics; it’s that right-wing Republicans make a business of it. It’s in their DNA. Their current strategy is to have their candidates in November actually benefit from the poor results of their previous two administrations – something unheard of, if it succeeds.
BRIEF CHRONOLGY OF RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY
The following actions were taken by members of the right-wing community and involved hundreds of millions of dollars, much of it taxpayer money. Their names and organizations can be found in the book, Misuse of Power, together with considerable other information.
• Right wing refuses to accept results of presidential election and declares war on the Clinton administration. According to Speaker Gingrich, the Clinton administration is the "enemy of normal Americans."
• In a private meeting, Gingrich says he will make wide use of subpoena power and envisions as many as 20 investigations being conducted simultaneously. Wealthy right wingers contribute to his campaigns and causes.
• Right wing finances a magazine with role to trash the President, without much regard for the facts, and drive him from office.
• They authorize and finance the Arkansas Project to gather information leading to political ruin of President Clinton.
• They launch a series of unwarranted congressional investigations and publish a futuristic book on "The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton", anticipating results of these investigations then in progress. The investigations produce nothing.
• In the magazine referred to above, a story appears about a Paula Jones incident with then Governor Clinton. Author later admits he spiced up his material, using innuendo and unverified charges. He then leaves the Republican Party.
• Jones wants to sue the magazine, but the right wing convinces her to sue the President instead. They put up considerable money to finance the suit. The right wing plan is to create a perjury trap when the case came to court by interrogating the President on past relationships. This perjury trap is set long before the Lewinsky matter ever enters the picture.
• Right wing arranges for a group of lawyers to assist, referred to as the "elves". They keep their participation a secret from their own law firms.
• Right-wing judge panel, in secret, replaces an experienced and highly reputable investigative person with an inexperienced one (Ken Starr) to take over the Clinton investigations. Starr has several conflicts of interest, including an axe to grind with Clinton, a law partner who is leading the right-wing conspiracy and multiple contacts with Paula Jones, even offering to work free for her.
• Starr resigns from his floundering investigations, but the Republican right wing prevails on him to stay. They still hope Starr will inflict a mortal wound on the President.
• Starr submits bad information to the Attorney General to gain control of the Lewinsky investigation. He incorrectly claims there is a connection between one of his investigations (the Whitewater land deal) and the Lewinsky matter.
• In congressional hearings, 400 historians and 430 law professors challenge constitutionality of impeachment.
• Impeachment in the House becomes the only option when the right wing blocks all efforts to censure -- the preferred course of many in Congress.
• Several hundred thousand anti-impeachment petitions are hand carried to Congress. Lines of communication to Washington expressing opposition break down.
• The right wing efforts to impeach defy our founding fathers who wanted a very high standard for removal of a president, such as a great crime or subversion of government. Our founders did not want a weak Executive subject to the whims of the Legislature.
• At the last minute, Speaker Livingston (who had replaced Gingrich) says "We’ve got to stop this ... this is crazy." He called an emergency meeting, stating, "We’re going to have a censure vote."
• Others, such as House Whip Tom DeLay, prevail and the President’s impeachment is railroaded during a lame-duck House session, using political blackmail to get the necessary votes. Several moderate Republicans refused to go along and afterwards others express regret for their vote.
• The right wing knew the Senate would not convict. Their real purpose is to (1) force the President to resign and (2) later take the White House -- a repeat of the President Nixon episode. They lost on the first count and won on the second.
BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF 9/11 ATTACKS
The full story of White House role in 9/11 with supporting documentation can be found at http://www.dailykos.com/... A few highlights are:
• Toward the end of the 90’s Bin Laden declares war on the United States and attacks two U.S. Embassies causing much loss of life.
• Clinton becomes the first President to coordinate counterterrorism from the White House and have its Chief report directly to him. Multiple actions are taken to respond to the threat, including grant of covert authority to the CIA to capture or kill Bin Laden.
• At transition, Clinton warns Bush that al-Qaeda will be his number one threat. CIA Director does the same in congressional testimony.
• Clinton’s team passes on an ingenious plan to respond to recent USS Cole attack as soon as source of that attack is confirmed. In February 2001, source is confirmed as al-Qaeda in a briefing to the Vice-President.
• Although the Vice-President is reminded several times in writing, there is no response to the USS Cole in the months that follow and Clinton’s plan is ignored.
• Bush downgrades terrorism; Chief of Counterterrorism no longer has access to President or Agency Heads. Clinton’s global crackdown on terrorist funding is abandoned in response to a powerful banking lobby.
• Special U.S. National Security Commission warns President Bush that U.S. is highly vulnerable to terrorist attack; urges creation of Homeland Security Agency.
• Bush rejects and, to avoid congressional hearings, cuts deal with Congress to put Vice-President in charge of preparing defense against domestic threat. Bush agrees to chair panel to oversee progress. He does not and nothing gets done.
• During the spring and summer of 2001, administration receives an unprecedented surge of warnings that a major catastrophe is about to befall our nation. Bin Laden’s plans had seeped out to foreign countries who pass them on to us.
• Warnings come from three Heads of State (Blair, Putin and the King of Jordan) plus a number of other friendly countries. Some of them specified (1) seizing aircraft and using them as missiles and (2) the presence of al-Qaeda members here in the U.S. planning the attacks and learning to fly.
• In July, when the warnings could not "get any worse", the CIA Director makes an emergency visit to the White House urging military and covert action now.
• The CIA Director is certain that it’s just a matter of time before al-Qaeda attacks again. His plan is to remove al-Qaeda from its sanctuary in Afghanistan and take down Bin Laden. No action is taken. (9/11 Commission omits this meeting and the specific warnings from foreign countries.)
• Among the 40 CIA briefings to the President on the terrorist threat, he is warned (1) that Bin Laden is determined to strike in the U.S. and (2) of the FBI arrest of the 20th hijacker who has a lot of unexplained cash money and was trying to quickly learn how "to take off and land a Boeing 747."
• The President continues a month’s vacation in August and never takes control of the situation. He does not put the nation in a crisis mode; he does not pursue military options; he does not give the CIA their twice requested covert authority to take down Bin Laden; he does not act on the very obvious requirement to protect commercial aircraft; and he does not warn the public.
• After 9/11, Clinton’s planned response to the USS Cole attack is finally put into action. It removes the Taliban government in about 10 days and forces al-Qaeda leaders to escape from Afghanistan.
• In 2010, the 9/11 Widows go on record as strongly objecting to the absence of accountability for individual failures that allowed 9/11 to happen. They do not agree with the Commission’s "simplistic conclusion" that there was a "failure of imagination."
• How could the Commission’s conclusion possibly be true when foreign countries and Heads of State had told us how the attacks would occur?