Thursday, May 04, 2006

getting toward election time...

With the primaries on the horizon and the general election not far behind, with the balance of power in Congress is in play. The conservative leadership is putting itself on the cross, so to speak, and once more cheapening religion by manipulating believers into supporting wedge issues. Being blessed as peacemakers is not what the Republican leadership is after.

What's coming?

It appears we are going to get a couple of really conservative judges. Some of thee will be from the former Starr team who worked so hard to reduce the power of the presidency when Bill Clinton held it and now work hard to enhance that same power now that George Bush holds it. Like the God they insist wrote the Bible, word for word (a notion that was only developed about 400 years ago), the US Constitution is not really the same today as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow. Apparently the Constitution's meaning varies with which person is in power.

This judge issue is one of my personal favorites. The Republicans blocked judge after judge on ideological grounds during the Clinton years and now they howl about how the president should be entitled to pick anyone he pleases. The Republican long run strategy is to name enough federal judges--who sit for life--so as to create a conservative judiciary that will be legislating their ideology long after the current conservative majority is cast out of office by the normal cycle of American politics.

This is a total lack of integrity on the part of Republicans who, having blocked on ideological grounds, now moan that it's unfair for anyone to ask any questions about a judge's ideology. The whole system is twisted, now, by partisanship and who knows when, or if, that can be fixed.

Aside from litmus tested judges we are also in for some flashy votes in Congress. Gay marriage, broadcast decency, a 10 commandments act, cloning ban, "protecting" in God we trust on the money and in the pledge of allegiance. These are the kinds of things that make the base go wild but that most centerist voters just tune out. These trivial issues do not mobilize, one way or the other, most voters who have their minds on serious questions (like health care, the deficit, our bankrupt transportation system, the structure of the tax system, etc). So "legislating" on these will be viewed by the center as more background noise to be ignored and will stoke the base at the same time.

We won't be seeing legislation about abortion or stem cell research which would awaken the voters in the center. The majority of Americans, including those in the center, who will hold the key the upcoming elections, do not agree with Bush and his base on these issues. Attention drawn to these issues will show that a lot of senators and representatives that go to Congress in their name don't agree with them on these kinds of issues that have great impact on how we live.

So, the Bush administration and Congress will give Dr. Dobson and the like something to chew on. They will not move on the issues that really have effect on the day to day lives of Americans because the Bush position on such issues, while drawing cheers from the base, are unpopular with the swing voters.

It's after the election, of course, that we are going to hear more about the things the administration is currently doing to prepare us for war with Iran...

The Democrats are not without fault in all of this and a number of them will be playing along with this strategy so as to fend off challanges from conservatives who have been picked and funded by the Republican National Committee to try to knock off members considered "vulnerable."

That's what we are in for from now until election day. It's not even "business as usual." It's politics as always.

Timothy Travis

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