Dozens of Democrats, especially the leadership, have defected to a new party: the Invertebrates. Their symbol is the jellyfish. Their "I-sorta-kinda-disagree-with-W" squishiness has made possible the triumph of the fanatical. Their opposition to the aggressive right wing is so spineless and lacking in confidence, it can only be described as cowardly.
Why is the leadership of the Democratic Party so lacking in -- well, leadership? Why is the party so paralyzed when it comes to mounting any kind of credible challenge to the Bush agenda of war without end and decimation of the economy? It appears that, collectively, the Democratic Party is struggling hard to straddle the right-of-center line the Republican Party is straddling; so it is impossible to recognize them as anything but Bush Lites.
The Democratic Party may have had all the "moderate" it can stand. There's nothing moderate about President Bush and the Republican Party. As a matter of fact, a larger agenda of fundamentally changing the role of government is taking place in Washington, and no one is doing anything to stop it.
The problem isn't that Democrats are on the wrong side of the issues. They are afraid to make an issue of being on the right side -- in the middle of mainstream American thought.
For example, three out of four Americans believe the latest round of tax cuts will not significantly reduce their taxes, and fewer than 30 percent think the cuts are the best way to stimulate the economy. A majority of Americans are intensely concerned about the skyrocketing unemployment rate and out-of-control budget deficits. But Democrats become jellyfish when it comes to challenging a president who consistently provides more and more tax cuts for the wealthy. Some of them shoot out a few stinging words but, inevitably, hitch themselves to the Republican tax-cut seaweed and float along.
On foreign policy, numbers also favor the Democrats. The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicates that 57 percent of Americans are opposed to investing the billions of dollars it will take to rebuild Iraq. However, Democrats twitter into semiliquidity when it comes to providing forceful opposition to the potential Iraqi quagmire.
And even though weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein, and Osama bin Laden have not been found, Democrats fear being called unpatriotic and un-American for speaking out about the wrongheaded and arrogant way the preemptive invasion was carried out without the support of the world.
And on it goes. The majority of the American people agree with the Democrats on protecting the environment, safeguarding Social Security, improving the quality of education, and providing greater access to affordable health care. They agree that corporate criminals must be prosecuted and that corporations must start ponying up their share of taxes instead of being given "corporate welfare."
All of this makes the inability of Democrats to provide alternatives and opposition to the Bush administration even more infuriating. And shameful.
There are nine Democrats running for president in 2004. Some of them are talking tough. A few have stridently spoken out against the destructive policies of this White House.
But many of them, as members of Congress, have hemmed and hawed but given wholehearted support to the war in Iraq and the tax cuts. They now expect us to believe they will stand up to the right-wing forces that want more tax cuts for the wealthy and more military aggression.
One of the greatest of all Democrats, Franklin D. Roosevelt, once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Heed that, all you fearful, apprehensive Invertebrates! Else you'll be washed-up jellyfish on the political shore while the rest of us try to figure out how to live in a country that is broke and at war with the next enemy-of-the-month.
Cheri DelBrocco is a local Democratic activist.