Why the Democrats must not surrender to the Republicans

by Ross Rosenfeld

(July 12, 2011) Political parties are outgrowths of a free society. They are not innate, nor eternal. And much like government itself, when a party fails to exist for the good of the people, that party should be abolished.

Throughout American history, numerous parties have come and gone, such as the Federalists, the Whigs, the Progressives, and even the Know-Nothings. Some served their purpose, then disappeared from the scene; others proved unsustainable; and there were those, of course, who refused to adjust to the times.

The Republicans of today, however, suffer from a much greater calamity. It is true that they have failed to adjust to the times in many ways: gay marriage, climate change, and Keynesian Economics, to name a few. But their antiquated ideas and refusals to accept basic science are not why I am calling for the abolition of their party. These faults could be fixed were it not for the inherent ones: their ends-justify-the-means mentality and their, frankly, frightening unanimity.

The debt ceiling talks are an ideal example. Any economist worth his or her weight will tell you that what the Republicans are threatening is essentially economic armageddon. Either they get everything they want or they'll do something we all know would be disastrous. Will they do it? Who knows? Optimistically, I'm hoping that Mr. Boehner and the other party leaders will be wise enough not to recommit the same type of error that caused the Dow Jones to drop 777 points in 2008. After all, failure to raise the debt ceiling is likely to be much worse.

The Republicans have given the Democrats an ultimatum: either accept spending reductions on programs important to the poor and middle class without any added revenue from the rich or we will blow up the economy. If the Democrats accept such terms from their political counterparts, it would leave them with an unworkable plan and a severely weakened party.

The Republicans' very act of threatening the nuclear option portends disaster, even should it not lead to disaster this time. As scary a prospect as this is, what makes it even scarier is the Republican unanimity.

Out of 239 Republican members of the House, 235 of them have signed Grover Norquist's pledge to never raise taxes. Never. No matter what the situation, no matter what the emergency. They have apparently put this pledge above that which they took to honor the Constitution, which states, under the 14th Amendment, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law...shall not be questioned."

Will Rogers once said, "I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat." As true as this often is, it is much preferable to the alternative: rigid conformity. Parties are supposed to be formed on the basis of consensus, not cult-like single-mindedness. In the Republican Party, however, dissent is not permitted. Dissent will make you an outcast. Just ask Charlie Crist.

Having opposing viewpoints and participating in debate is healthy for a republic. I am not suggesting that we abandon political parties or that we seek one-party rule; that would also be a mistake. I am suggesting, however, that the Republicans have become a party of factual and logical suppression that has put political gain before the people.

Both Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor voted 7 times to raise the debt ceiling under the Bush Administration, as did most Republicans serving back then. None of them tried to hold the economy hostage at that time. Yet now they do. What could possibly be the motivation? It is simple: they seek the destruction of the Democratic Party.

The Democrats must get wise and destroy them first. They must call the Republicans out. They must fight back, not for themselves, but for us the People.

Ross Rosenfeld is a New York based educator with his own tutoring business.

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