The conservatives know that they are losing control in America. Women and divorced folks and minorities and gays are becoming full participants in American society. Not long along it was illegal to even discuss contraceptive methods. Mixed marriages and schools were illegal. Lenny Bruce could not make a joke about the Pope in a nightclub full of adults. Now the Supreme Court has ruled that acts of sodomy are legal. Larry Flint beat Jerry Falwell and the Moral Majority about pornography. The conservatives have been terrorized for quite a few years and they are desperate. They were even terrorized by seeing a nipple for a few seconds during the Super Bowl.
Social progress around the world also threatens the military industrial complex and the need for a big intelligence community. With the collapse of the USSR new threats had to be found or rather old smaller concerns had to be spun into big security threats. Peace is bad news for those groups and they need credible enemies at the wall to stay in business.
The Mass Media has lost influence because of the Internet. Wars and terror alerts are good for ratings of the news programs.
None of the above should be news or surprising.
The question is what Democrats should do in such a situation.
First. Do not panic. Deal with these folks as parents would with any child having a tantrum or nightmare. Be firm and yet supportive because you understand their fears and the difficulties they face.
Second. Keep your own goals and do not allow others to set the agenda and discussion. If we are bickering over how many deaths constitute a civil war in Iraq then we are not discussing how and why the richest country in the world does not provide affordable health care for its citizens. Even moderate Republicans have begun to ponder affordable health care.
Third. Be progressive or moderate or hawkish in your public statements as you see fit to remain relevant to your constituency. Sure the war is farce and yet the goal of the War is security and that goal is an honest, worthy goal. And our military personnel are in harms way.
Fourth. The liberal traditions of tolerance and free speech and diversity give us the strength to resist attempts to install a closed society. Democrats must champion those traditions, especially in a time of war. Despite shrill rhetorical calls of being traitors or giving aide and comfort to the enemy.
Fifth. Iran and North Korea and Lebanon and Syria and Americans and everybody should know by now that America currently has a President that will stop at nothing. President Bush has openly claimed that he has war powers that allow him to ignore the Constitution and wiretap folks and detain folks forever and torture them as necessary. He can strike first and use atomic weapons to reduce the need for the use of conventional forces.
Revealing the extreme Republicans as folks bent on world domination by force could and should remove Republican control in 2008.