I find myself reciting three words in response to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's "Nuclear Option": bring it on!!
It's excruciating on a day-to-day basis to have to endure the social divisiveness, elitist arrogance and blatant media control of creeping fascism in America. But each step in the neoconservative push to remake the country in their prescribed image plays a little further into the hands of reasonable progressive political thought. Five years ago I began telling my friends that George W. Bush and company would provide the greatest stimulus to liberal momentum since 1968. Now they are following the script perfectly, substantiating and confirming all my eager expectations about backlash.
The Republicans seem to believe they are on the verge of solidifying an empire here, an empire built on subsidy and protection for the rich balanced by casual contempt for middle-class working Americans. They've spent five years rigging the machinery of politics and distracting attention from their raid on the Treasury by focusing public attention on issues of personal morality. And on the surface, it has worked. But beneath the surface, they have no real foundation, as a variety of statistical indicators show.
Start with Bush's approval rating, below fifty percent in the days before the election, persistently below fifty percent ever since. The public demonstrated in opinion polling that it was overwhelmingly opposed [pdf] to Congressional and judicial intervention in the Terri Schiavo right-to-die case, but the Tom Delays and Bill Frists of the world ignored that feedback. The Iraq War continues to show its true colors, to the increasing discontent and impatience of the voters, but the Bush Administration has no exit plan and will clearly still be mired in this futile effort to establish "democracy" when the next election rolls around. The historic budget deficit grows each day, but the Administration doggedly insists tax revenues will grow to shorten it up-- yeah, sure they will. The Administration and Capitol Hill "leadership" continue to obsess about privatizing Social Security and packing the courts with oligarchist jurists, while the public asks in overwhelming majority for attention to be paid to jobs, economic breadth, reduction of healthcare costs, a legitimate energy policy and an end to the no-win war.
Sure there are still disquieting signs in a country where real democracy lies momentarily dormant. Dormant due to right-wing ownership of the national political machinery and the widespread election fraud that has engendered. Dormant due to the capitulation of mainstream media in the face of neoconservative intimidation tactics (see Bill Moyer's post today about the corruption of editorial independence at PBS). Dormant due to the inherently greater diversity, fragmentation and iconoclasm of liberal as opposed to reactionary thought. Yes, it's harder for us to get our act together because we're way less willing to pervert the system for our own ends. But once we're back on top, we'll stay there longer, because our still-innocent willingness to really trust democracy will show.
So I hope Sen. Frist and his jackals carry the day. Let them remove those safeguards which have assured the minority party a continuing voice in the Senate, and then let them fret about it for thirty years after the pendulum swings back our way in 2008. This is surely one of the reasons Sens. McCain, Chafee and Snowe are breaking ranks on this one -- they're smart enough to see the downside. As long as the Bushies arrogantly ignore the expressed will of the people who voted for them, as long as they treat a President with a below-fifty percent approval rating as though he's some kind of an emperor, as long as they assume the massive diversity of the society is just an administrative problem they can somehow erase, they play into our hands.
Bring it on, Bill Frist. And then get ready to celebrate the new Democratic majority, which will last for decades to come.