It would be exceptionally dangerous were there to be only one political party in power. Power must be checked and, although our Constitution provides a mechanism for the restriction of one branch, it does nothing to restrict one party from dominating. An adult discussion of substantive issues is essential to the health of this country. Yet it seems as though the Democratic left wishes to be permanently relegated to minority status. I had more than one conversation this past election season in which a member of the Democratic Party admitted to me their unbridled and irrational hatred for George W. Bush. It is the irrational hatred that scares me.
Conservatives had plenty to hate Clinton for, and although this often times found inappropriate expression, they didn’t fail to give credit where credit was due. We credited him with deficit reduction, a willingness to defy the United Nations when the citizens of Srebrenica were being slaughtered, and welfare reform. The left has returned no such courtesy. Instead Democrats have allowed the most extreme elements of their party to co-opt the stage. When MoveOn.org compares Bush to Hitler, thinking people tune out. When Michael Moore claims erroneously that Bush hustled the bin Laden family out of the country (Clinton’s Richard Clarke claimed sole responsibility) he discredits whatever position he may have held as a social satirist. When Maureen Dowd repeatedly caricatures Bush as a go-it-alone cowboy after 11 months of courting the UN and a coalition of 33 countries including the United Kingdom, Italy and Japan, she underscores the conservative impression that the left has abandoned ideas for vitriol.
The most depressing aspect of this past election was the lack of subsequent debate. Michael Moore and the Swiftboat Vets were granted the limelight, instead of an honest discussion of the future direction of foreign policy. Kerry proposed only two specific ideas on how to deal with Iran and North Korea; the remainder of the campaign centered around a series of unarticulated “plans” which were reported to be on his Web site.
This is hazardous. The role of America in the world is to be decided. This is the first time in history where one power has so completely dwarfed all others. There is no past model from which to gain insight. We need thoughtful discussion. Yet the Democrats seem uninterested. They would rather paint Bush as an idiot, or as a Machiavellian criminal mastermind, or yet again as a gun-slinging cowboy, instead of engaging in the merits of realpolitik versus democratic realism versus international globalism. These are debates that need to be had, but they will not be as long as the Democratic agenda is dictated by those who would rather engage in childish sloganeering.
Where are the Daniel Patrick Moynihans, the John Kennedys and the Harry Trumans? For all of Bush’s faults and missteps he has articulated a clear position. The only way to make the world safe is to promote democracy much the same way we did with Germany and Japan after World War II, Latin America through the ’70s and ’80s, and the Eastern bloc all through the Cold War. He may be wrong. But we will never know it as long as the left is contented with irrational hatred in place constructive thought.
Joel Beckett, who describes himself as the Metro Times“one Republican reader,” is an English teacher at Detroit Western International High School. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org