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In Wake of Tax Compromise, Circular Firing Squad Squares Off in the Democratic Party

Posted on December 11 2010 5:00 pm
I'm a recovering Leftist who's now a Goldwater conservative. A lifelong Arizona resident, I'm a freelance writer. I spend my free time reading, power-walking, shooting and antiquing.
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Compromise on an issue often brings confusion.  Purists will stand on some principle amid the hottest heat of battle, and when some turn toward agreement with the hated enemy, they will fire upon each other.  Eventually they forget why they ever agreed about anything, and their entire army disbands in chaos.  This dynamic of crazy does not merely happen on one side or the other, as history is full of examples both on the Left and the Right.

The tax-cut extension now being debated by the lame-duck Congress shows that process in motion yet again.  “The whole deal is corrupt,” Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is reported to have told Vice President Biden in a super-secret closed-door meeting.  (And for certain, when she cries about corruption, the senator is speaking about a subject she knows well.)  Senator Barbara Milulski (D-Md.) lamented that the meeting was “rowdy” and “raucous.”  And Biden, dispatched by the president to meet with the lawmakers, discovered, yet again, what a thankless job it is to be Vice President.

Democrats in Washington are in circular-firing-squad mode now.  President Obama called critics of his compromise with congressional Republicans on tax-cut extensions “sanctimonious.”  And his Leftist base is threatening to support someone even more hopey-changey in 2012.  For those to whom flogging the rich is more important than helping out the working class, the past couple of days have been stormy.

It’s fun watching the Leftists picnicking on each other.  There definitely seems to be little room on their side of the aisle for differences of opinion.  Their fearless leader sulked his way into compromise and complains about it endlessly – but compromise he did.  If the Dems are not strong enough to deal with differences, they will likely lose big-time in 2012.

But will Republicans be united enough to effect the takeover of the White House and both houses of Congress? Questions abound here, too.  If those who have held power in the GOP can’t welcome newcomers in good grace, it’s anybody’s guess what will happen in the next election.

Independents voted for Obama in large numbers two years ago.  Polls showed that most of them leaned Republican – but though they tended in that direction, there were obviously aspects of the GOP that turned them off.  The Tea Party reaped success by concentrating on the statist crisis the Democrats have dumped on the country.  Can they hold onto that advantage by keeping taxes from skyrocketing and government from getting even bigger, or will contentious side issues be permitted to tear the Right apart?

New blood in a movement is necessary from time to time.  It charges it with new strength and fresh vigor – enabling it to win elections it would otherwise lose – but it also brings in new ideas.  There were reasons the newbies weren’t part of the movement before, and it was because they disagreed with certain parts of it.  Their presence will definitely test which parts are true and which ones aren’t.  New ideas must only be seen as threatening by those who are no longer sure they can defend the old ones.

Are the principles upon which Democrats are willing to compromise good ideas or bad ones? Of course Republicans think they are good.  But if they fall into the trap of squabbling over other issues as fearfully as the Democrats are doing now, they run the risk of appearing not to trust the things in which they claim to believe.

Despite their continuing praise for diversity, Democrats can’t seem to handle the reality of what it means.  It means that – gasp! – some people are going to disagree with others on at least some issues.  Narrowness of mind and intolerance of alternative viewpoints are corrosive elements in any political party.  We need to be certain that while we’re laughing at them, we’re also learning from their mistake.

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