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A New Coalition?

Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers

August 8, 2006

The Democrats, believing they have an excellent chance to reclaim one or even both houses of Congress, are almost certainly heading for another huge disappointment in November.

Polls show a double-digit public preference for the Democrats over the GOP in the upcoming mid-term congressional election.  But no matter.  Should sixty percent of the voters – or seventy or eighty – vote for the Democrats, the GOP will maintain control.  “What matters,” Stalin is reported to have said, “is not who votes, what matters is who counts the votes.”

In the United States of America today, the Republicans, through their subsidiary private corporations, count the votes, and there is overwhelming evidence that in the past three national elections the Republicans have counted the votes to their advantage in utter disregard of the actual will of the voters.  This in addition to the indisputable suppression of Democratic votes through registration purges, maldistribution of voting machines, and invalidation of ballots.  The mainstream media and the Democratic Party refuse to acknowledge, investigate, or report, this massive crime against our democracy.  But the evidence is what it is, and “facts,” as John Adams observed, “are stubborn things and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts “

Thus the state of US politics has been radically changed.  The United States can no longer correctly be described as a “democracy” – not as long as the government continues to rule without the consent of the governed and is no longer subject to recall by the voters.

Yet the media and both parties carry on as if we might anticipate another ordinary election in November, at which the Democrats have a realistic chance of regaining control of at least one house of the Congress.

The march toward dictatorship.

Meanwhile, the Busheviks are systematically dismantling the Constitutional system of checks and balances.  With his “signing statements,” Bush has announced his self-enacted privilege to ignore acts of Congress at will and thus to reduce the Congress to an advisory body. 

With that much accomplished, the Busheviks now apparently have the Supreme Court in their sights.  In a bill soon to be submitted to Congress, Bush will attempt to nullify the Hamden Decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Geneva Conventions, which have the full force of U.S.  law, apply to so-called “enemy combatants” (a term with no meaning or standing in either federal or international law).  Under the provisions of this bill,
writes Anne Plummer Flaherty of the Associated Press:

US citizens suspected of terror ties might be detained indefinitely and barred from access to civilian courts... 

According to the draft, the military would be allowed to detain all “enemy combatants” until hostilities cease.  The bill defines enemy combatant as anyone “engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners who has committed an act that violates the law of war and this statute.”

Legal experts said ...  that such language is dangerously broad and could authorize the military to detain indefinitely U.S.  citizens who had only tenuous ties to terror networks like al Qaeda.

In fact, according to provisions of the Patriot Act, individuals engaged in acts of civil disobedience might be treated as “terrorists” and deprived of their Constitutional rights of habeas corpus, jury trial, and representation by counsel.  Under this interpretation, Martin Luther King, Daniel Ellsberg, and thousands of Viet Nam era protesters could have been subject to arbitrary arrest and unlimited incarceration.  An “enemy combatant” is whoever Bush’s administration says that it is, and let us remember that soon after 9/11 Bush proclaimed that “you are either for us or against us.”

If this “terror detainee bill” is enacted into law, the only remaining defense against totalitarian despotism will be free speech, as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.  But as we know, most of the mainstream media have fallen into line behind the Bush Administration and the GOP, and the independence of the remaining free medium, the internet, is now being threatened by pending legislation which would, in effect, privatize the internet and place it under the control of GOP subservient corporations.

The stakes in the coming election.

In the history of the United States, transfer of political power has almost always been peaceful and orderly.  The defeated President rides with the President-Elect to the inauguration ceremony and then retires without incident.  So it was in 1977, in 1981, and again in 1992 and 2001.  In Congress, when control passes to a new majority party, the gavel is ceremoniously handed over to the new Speaker of the House or President of the Senate.

This time, however, control of the Congress will not be easily relinquished to the Democrats.  The stakes in the November election are simply too great.  Laws have been broken by the Republican Administration, and corruption in the GOP Congress is widespread, all the while Congressional oversight has been effectively abandoned.  Billions of dollars of ill-gained fortunes are at stake – fortunes obtained by an unprecedented raid on the public treasury, by non-competitive government contracts, by tax loopholes, and by a flagrantly unjust realignment of the tax burden.  Federal and international laws against torture have been violated and war crimes have been committed.  And massive election fraud has gone on, uninvestigated and unprosecuted.

Were the Democrats to take control of even one house of the Congress, oversight investigations might begin, with sworn testimony, subpoena power, and the threat of perjury and contempt of Congress hanging over the witnesses.  The worm-cans of corruption, election fraud, torture and war crimes might then be pried open.  Many busheviks might then face the prospect of criminal indictment, conviction and prison.  And finally, Articles of Impeachment might well be passed by the House of Representatives.

With both houses under Democratic control, legislation might be passed that would reinstate a fair distribution of tax burdens, election reform might be enacted, resolutions might be passed that would forbid wars of aggression.  Following the approval of bills of impeachment by the House, conviction and removal of President Bush and possibly Dick Cheney by the Senate becomes a distinct possibility.

Accordingly, the GOP simply cannot allow the Democrats to win either house of the Congress, and they are fully capable of preventing a Democratic victory, regardless of the will of the voters, just as they have in recent elections.

And that situation is unprecedented in our history.  So too, perhaps, must be the remedy.  As Abraham Lincoln told the Congress in December, 1862: “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion.  As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.  We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

A Proposal: A New Coalition.

Given the GOP control of the vote-counting mechanisms, it is quite possible that on Monday, November 6, the opinion polls will predict a Democratic landslide, and then on Wednesday, November 8, the day following the election, there will be press and pundit reports of yet another “Republican miracle.”

What then?  Will the American people finally wake up to the grim fact that they now live under the rule of a one-party dictatorship? 

And if they do, will there be no the remedy for We the People, short of a counter-coup or armed insurrection?

Perhaps there is another way out, rarely discussed, but still plausible: a coalition of moderate Republicans (turned “Independent”) and Democrats sufficient to reorganize each house of Congress, outvote the Bush loyalists, and initiate Congressional investigations of the crimes of the Bush administration and the GOP, including the crime of voting fraud.  Today, that would require fifteen members of Congress and five Senators.  Of course, come November, those numbers will change.

This happened as recently as June, 2001, with the defection of one Republican Senator: James Jeffords of Vermont.  However, the resulting Democratic Senate turned out to be a toothless tiger that was overturned in the 2002 election, which suggests that even if the Democrats were to win in November, the result might fall far short of the hoped-for panacea.

The Jeffords defection, however, was an anomaly.  Political coalitions, standard operating procedure in multi-party European parliaments, are almost unknown to American history.  The closest approximation was the GOP-Southern Democrat alliance that ended with the mid-sixties civil rights legislation, which caused many Southern Democrats, including Strom Thurmond, Phil Gramm and Richard Shelby, to join the Republican party.

Following a pre-ordained Republican victory in November, is such a coalition possible?  Not likely, and yet not impossible.  Even today, numerous prominent Republicans outside of Congress have left the party.  John Dean and Kevin Philips come immediately to mind.  Around the country, several elected Republican officials or candidates have switched parties:  In Kansas, nine former Republicans are now seeking office as Democrats.  In Virginia, James Webb, a former Republican who served as Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, is running for the Senate as a Democrat.  Other defections can be found in South Carolina and Alabama.  Perhaps such a trend might reach into the U.S.  Congress.

If such a political realignment is to take place, the Congressional Democrats will have to make significant concessions.  Much of the liberal/progressive agenda might have to be set aside for the short term.  The newly-independent ex-Republicans and the Democrats would agree to unite in these few over-arching objectives: the restoration of a Constitutional Republic, of the rule of law, and of the international good will and reputation of the United States.  In addition, the new coalition would work toward the marginalization of the right-wing extremism, theocracy, and regressivism that has captured the Republican Party, and toward the restoration of a moderate Republican Party.  The Democrats should no more desire a one-party Democratic autocracy, than the current one-party regressive Republican regime.

Once a functioning two-party Congressional system is restored, the Democrats may resume the task of enacting progressive legislation.

Every GOP senator and congressperson took an oath to defend the Constitution of the US.  None took an oath to defend the Republican Party.  Who can deny that the Constitution is in urgent and immediate need of defense?  Are there enough Republicans in Congress to join with the Democrats in a coalition that will preserve the Constitution and restore the rule of law?

Upon that question may depend a decisive reversal of our nation’s slide toward unremitting despotism, and the restoration of our Constitutional republic.

Copyright 2006 by Ernest Partridge


Ernest Partridge's Internet Publications

Conscience of a Progressive:  A book in progress. 

Partridge's Scholarly Publications. (The Online Gadfly)

Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers".   His e-mail is: gadfly@igc.org .

Crisis Papers editors, Partridge & Weiner, are available for public speaking appearances