Despite the evidence of backlash against Karl Rove's fear and smear tactics that last November's electoral defeat of the Republicans illustrated, the nation has not even begun to cleanse itself from the bigotry, hatred, and venom Rove's brand of slash and burn politics has unleashed in this country.
In 1992, Bill Clinton squeaked out a 43 percent plurality only because Ross Perot stole more votes from pappy Bush than he did from Clinton. The Democrats controlled the federal machinery for two years only to devour each other in internecine warfare over health care, trade, welfare "reform," and other policies (just as they are doing today with lobbying reform). The party split into its now familiar "conservative/moderate" wing, which is heavily dependent on corporate cash and sees the world through the eyes of the Republican-lite Democratic Leadership Council, and its more traditional "liberal" elements tied to labor unions and to the Left.
Celebrated in the corporate media at the time, the "Gingrich Revolution" of 1994 turned the House over to right-wing Republicans. Unlike today's lily-livered Democratic Congressional "leaders," Newt Gingrich and Tom DeLay impeached the president for his private sex life not giving a damn if they had enough votes in the Senate to remove him from office. And a cabal of corrupt extremists, along with Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham, controlled the House of Representatives until 2006. Clinton, after two terms, left the Democratic Party in a far weaker position than it was when he first entered office. Thanks Bill!
Today, because the Bush Administration has destroyed the nation's reputation abroad and its credibility at home with its stunning arrogance of power and brazen corruption, some pundits are claiming the Republicans are in deep trouble. But it is premature to begin writing the party's epitaph.
The Republican Right is resilient because the ruling class and corporate America solidly back it, not only with Texas-sized amounts of campaign cash, but with a dizzying array of think tanks, foundations, right-wing church associations, and media outlets including FOX News that disseminate its views efficiently and forcefully. The Italian social theorist, Antonio Gramsci, argued that the dominant ideas of the ruling elite create a kind of "cultural hegemony" because they have so much weight behind them from the rich and powerful. The Right also stakes claim to the nation's most enduring symbols, such as the flag, monuments, the military, and even the Bible. Karl Rove has appropriated these potent signifiers, and they will be removed only from his dead cold hands. In other words, the Right isn't going away no matter how badly Bush screws everything up. Democratic leaders should be cognizant of this fact.
Believe it or not, as was expertly pulled off with Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush's image could be rehabilitated, with the help of his "policy institute" at SMU, and by playing over again the visuals relating to his "bull horn moment" when he play-acted a president rallying the nation after 9-11. Tim Russert and other corporate media lemmings have already excused Bush for his misrule and have moved on.
If Karl Rove is not indicted or publicly repudiated for what he has done to our politics he could become a behind-the-scenes operator for the GOP for many more election cycles, wreaking havoc with progressive causes. That would be a disaster for the Democrats, who showed in the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 they have neither the tools nor the guts to stand up to Rove's underhanded, even fascistic tactics.
In 2002, the Democrats once again displayed their collective pusillanimity by following the now politically deceased Dick Gephardt and Tom Daschle down the primrose path of endorsing Bush's illegal invasion of Iraq. All they had to show for it in the end was losing the Senate to the Republicans. The current Democratic leaders are equally inept.
Beginning in 2008, the Democrats might have a four-year interregnum dumped on their laps by Bush's sheer incompetence and contempt for the law, for Congress, and for the American people. But it won't last. The Democratic Party will hemorrhage under its own contradictions, and possibly plant the seeds for an even mightier Republican revolution. We could have Bushism without Bush.
The Democrats in the Congress are making a fatal error by playing nice with Bush and his gang of bandits. They are sacrificing the long-term interests of the progressive movement for short-term electoral gain, (just like Clinton did in the 1990s). Our body politic must be cleansed with a long bath in hot sudsy water. And the only way to do so is to impeach Bush now! Start the water, and grab the soap!