How to Win|at Politics

     It’s been clear for years that congressional Democrats are cowards and Republicans are vicious liars – and that when it comes to governing, a vicious liar will beat a coward every time.
     There is no point in wishing that either party will change.
     These are old men, old white men, mostly, and old white men don’t change.
     Why should they? Look at what their nasty habits have got them.
     But there is still a way for Democrats to enact legislation that the country desperately needs, as we suffer a depression, massive unemployment, two useless wars and a civil cold war.
     And they can do it despite the Republicans’ selfish and shortsighted obstruction.
     They just have to do it a little at a time.
     Republicans will threaten to filibuster any major legislation the Democrats introduce. They did it to health care, they’ll do it to banking and Wall Street reform, they’ll do it when the overhaul of the dishonest, counterproductive and stupid No Child Left Behind law comes around.
     (For the record, Bush’s No Child law was not written to improve public education. It was written to undermine public education, and to throw tax money at religious schools. And the Democrats, cowards that they are, fell for it.)
     The Democrats are too incompetent to enact legislation today though they have 59 votes in the Senate and a 78-seat edge in the House.
     The Democrats are incompetent. They are too cowardly to call the Republicans’ bluff and let them filibuster.
     It is gutless and incompetent for the Democrats to fold on every damn piece of legislation they introduce because 41 Republicans threaten to filibuster.
     Let them do it.
     Let the country see 41 old white men obstruct legislation on health care, on financial reform, on war and peace and life and death and jobs while millions of people are out of work.
     Let the obstructionists filibuster to the little tin cups they use as their hearts’ content.
     Here’s how the gutless and incompetent Democrats can enact the legislation the country needs to deal with our continuing national disasters: Just do it one piece at a time.
     Instead of a 1,000-page health care reform bill, introduce a bill prohibiting health insurers from canceling people’s coverage because they get sick, or file a claim.
     Republicans want to filibuster that one? Let them do it.
     Then introduce a bill prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage because someone has been, or still is, sick.
Republicans want to filibuster that one? Let them do it.
     And so on.
     Instead of a 500-page financial reform bill reining in hedge fund crooks and blood-sucking bankers, introduce a 1-page bill increasing the marginal tax rate to 80 percent for personal income above $2 million a year – like it was under Eisenhower. We didn’t do too badly under Eisenhower.
     Republicans want to filibuster that one? Let them do it.
     If Democrats presented themselves to the public as simplemindedly as the Republicans have been doing for years, Republicans would dry up under the heat of the public gaze like the slugs they are.
     The country did not get into our social, economic, national and international catastrophes all at once. It happened a little bit at a time, for decades – in great part due to venal, corrupt Republican legislation and governing.
     Republicans have triumphed repeatedly, to the nation’s and the world’s cost, by using simpleminded, dishonest slogans – such as No Child Left Behind, or The USA Patriot Act – to benefit small, cancerous social groups, mostly of white men: bankers, securities traders, Realtors, oil men, credit-card usurers, mercenaries and private prison companies.
     The Democrats can’t undo this all at once.
     But they can undo it one piece at a time – the same way we kill cancer – by directing small doses of strong medicine directly at the sick spots.
     If Democrats had any brains – which I am coming to doubt – they would never introduce a piece of legislation more than 5 pages long.
     If Democrats had any guts – which they do not – they could start repairing our country tomorrow – one piece at a time.
     But that would take guts and competence.
     Democrats need to get some of both. And stop ceding the country to vicious liars.

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