Throwing the Bums Out

09/23/2006 03:51 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Seriously guys. I'm not joking. The reaction to my previous post, "Don't Vote Democrat", was understandably mixed (which is a kind way of saying "almost everyone hated it"), but let me address some of the common concerns. For one, I can assure you that I'm not a "GOP plant" or a "fake-liberal", nor do I think third-parties serve as anything more than a distraction in a political system that's guaranteed to be controlled by two parties. I'm a liberal Democrat who hates George Bush, saw An Inconvenient Truth and loved it, know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino, etc. Hell, I was writing "George Allen is a racist" posts before it was cool.

Going back to one of the more controversial statements in the post, a lot of people took issue with the statement "The last time they were in charge we got the Patriot Act, the Iraq War resolution, and the Medicare drug bill." Sorry guys, but it's true. From the Summer of 2001 until the end of 2002, the Democratic Party was in charge of the Senate. They controlled the committees, had subpoena power, and all the other powers that we've been convincing ourselves are the only things that stand between the President and full accountability for his crimes. Yet the rusty age of Democratic leadership saw the birth of some of the most horrendous policies of the Bush years. The war, tax cuts, Patriot Act, etc. all squeaked through a Democratic Senate. You might argue that post-9/11 deference to the President somehow absolves the Democratic leadership from acting like a true opposition party, but what's their excuse now?

I really hope that I'm wrong about all this. In fairness to the Democrats in the Senate, there hasn't been a vote on the torture bill yet. Maybe we'll get lucky and the Dems week-long nap was a brilliant strategy, as described by DelTweed :

Not only were the Repub-3 voices the only ones that mattered in this case, but they highlighted disunity in the Repub party -- what they always accuse Dems of. Isn't that a good situation for the public to see -- Repubs fighting amongst themselves? Why would you condemn Dems for not interfering in an advantageous situation? You say Dems don't seem to want to convince people to vote for them, but you must know that most Dems can't get media coverage no matter what they say -- good God man, remember what we're living with right now.

I'm all too familiar with the enormity of the Bush Administration's crimes. My problem is that I'm still not convinced that the Democrats care more about standing up for their principles than their own job security. As I wrote in a post on the NSA spying scandal back in January :

Despite the importance of the President's crimes, this could politically hurt Democrats. But even if that's the case, it's better to go down fighting than to sell your soul.

I don't care how poorly this issue polls or that it's an election year. On a good day, I consider myself a centrist (though I prefer the term pragmatic liberal), so I've been more willing than most to hear arguments about making compromises, reaching across the aisle, and taking a short term loss for a long term gain. So don't take it as naivety when I say that sometimes you have to cut through that bullshit and do the right thing. Even if it means ruining your political career, at least you'll be able to sleep at night.

Seriously Dems, if you're willing to be wishy-washy on something as fundamental as the separation of powers, then you don't deserve our votes. And I don't mean this as some sort of ideological litmus test, either. I don't care if you're conservative or liberal, if you're unwilling to stand on principle for an issue that cuts to the very heart of how and why this nation was founded, then why should we believe you'd ever show some integrity?

When choosing parties, we're stuck in a choice between the lesser of the two evils, but that doesn't mean we have to approve of the people representing the party. I find the idea of voting for a Republican as abhorrent as the commenters who think I'm an idiot for even suggesting the notion, but I'll be damned I let my vote be taken for granted by beltway Dems who are so well-trained that they can't be bothered to take a popular position on one of the most important issues on voters minds. DrPaulProteus put it well in the comments when he said :

Why do Republican voters get candidates who do what they want? Because if they didn't do what their constituencies wanted, they'd be thrown out by an angry base. Not so with the Democrats. Democrats put up with Joe Lieberman for years. Democrats actually tried to argue the case for supporting John Kerry even though he turned his back on the base by not taking a stand on the war (or really anything else). If the Democratic base can get angry, now would be the time.
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Nothing will *ever* change about the Democrats until you withhold your vote. That vote is all they need from you. If they already know you will vote for them no matter what they do as long as they're a little better than Republicans, then why should they listen to anything you say? You've already voted for them.

That's the key. If you're willing to vote Democratic every election no matter what's going on because they're always better than the Republicans, then you're just helping reinforce the cowardice that's plagued the party for well over a decade now. Until the Democrats are convinced that they need to drop their political rope-a-dope and actually try to win voters' hearts, then we're going to spend every election night like this :