Who Are These Democrats?

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Ben Cohen
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Joe Lieberman by mr.frego.

(Joe Lieberman - once considered a Democrats)

by David Glenn Cox

Times
change and political definitions change as well. The Republican Party
was born of an anti-slavery plank in the days of Abraham Lincoln. The
Republicans were the party of reform and were, dare I say it, liberals.
The Democrats were the party of the status quo, supporting slavery and
big business. In my childhood I was raised with John Kennedy, Robert
Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, and all of them basking in
the light of Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman.

Harry Truman
had tried to pass single payer national health insurance, along the
lines of modern Medicare, in 1948. He was defeated by the first
Republican-controlled Congress since Herbert Hoover. Truman always
publicly referred to Republicans as reactionaries; they were the party
of no.


“The Republicans believe that the power of government
should be used first of all to help the rich and the privileged in the
country. With them, property, wealth, comes first. The Democrats
believe that the power of government should be used to give the common
man more protection and a chance to make a living. With us the people
come first." -- A Government as Good As Its People (Harry S. Truman)

Franklin
Roosevelt said it like this: “A conservative is a man with two
perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk
forward.”

Republicans in that era were considered, in many
circles, nuts. So when I see their clients waving posters of Hitler and
bringing guns to rallies today, there is nothing new here. When Barry
Goldwater ran for President his slogan was “In your heart you know he’s
right,” but that was turned around by the Democrats to “In your guts
you know he’s nuts!”

The Republicans are famous for using
emotional sophistry and fear to convince ordinary Americans to vote
against their own interests. Harry Truman once said, “Don’t vote for
me, vote for yourself!” The labels of nut ball or whacko are as
meaningless to the Republican horde as telling a pig it smells bad.
Ronald Reagan was seen in his era as every bit as loony as Sarah Palin
is today. The Republicans of that era, and still today, like
threatening war with all enemies, real and imagined. Goldwater warned
of a nuclear war with Russia and China if they would not give in to our
demands. This is why the campaign ad run by Lyndon Johnson of the
little girl picking daisies with a mushroom cloud in the background had
such an effect.

It asked the simple question: Is this what you
want for your children? Goldwater was at the far right end of the
Republican Party, the end aligned with the John Birch society. At the
other end of the Republican spectrum were the Rockefeller Republicans,
people like George Romney and Gerald Ford, and of course, Nelson
Rockefeller. They were economic Republicans, Republicans from
Democratic-leaning districts who were soft on Republican hot button
issues of the day like “forced integration” and strong on limiting the
power of organized labor.

“Republicans approve of the American
farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand
four-square for the American home-- but not for housing. They are
strong for labor-- but they are stronger for restricting labor's
rights. They favor minimum wage--the smaller the minimum wage the
better. They endorse educational opportunity for all--but they won't
spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care
and hospitals are fine-- for people who can afford them. They consider
electrical power a great blessing--but only when the private power
companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is
a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they
admire the Government of the United States so much that they would like
to buy it.” (Harry Truman)

But since the election of Ronald
Reagan as President in 1980, there has been a shift in the political
landscape. Liberal became a dirty word and politicians of both parties
ran for office on their conservative values. Since that election the
American standard of living has gone only down, and American weapons of
war have never grown dusty from lack of use. What we have seen in that
time has been Republican wet dreams of cutting taxes for the rich and
cutting wages for the working man.

We have a
world-turned-upside-down scenario where Bill Clinton’s welfare reform
program was more conservative than Richard Nixon’s. Bill Clinton was no
more a liberal than Ronald Reagan was a moderate. The media and the
Republicans like to label Democrats as liberals, but in point of fact
there are very few actual liberals in Congress. We do have Dennis
Kucinich, Barney Frank and John Conyers, but you couldn’t fill a
minivan with the actual liberals in Congress.

When Harry Truman
ran for the presidency in 1948, the liberals had split the party
because they wanted Truman to step down. The Southern Dixiecrats had
walked out of the convention over Truman’s strong stand on
desegregation. Truman was a moderate Democrat; Kennedy was a moderate
Democrat, so when judged side-by-side, Bill Clinton was almost as
conservative as either Nixon or Ford.

But since the election
in 1980 we have had endless, and in most cases needless, military
conflicts, and the so-called liberal voices were mainly silenced.

“More
than an end to war, we want an end to the beginning of all wars - yes,
an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of
settling the differences between governments.” (Franklin Roosevelt)

"I
never would have agreed to the formulation of the Central Intelligence
Agency back in forty-seven, if I had known it would become the American
Gestapo." (Harry Truman)

“We prefer world law in the age of self-determination to world war in the age of mass extermination.” (John F Kennedy)

Perhaps
it is this generational difference that puts me at odds with so many of
my fellow Democrats. I see war in the same light as FDR, Truman and
Kennedy, that war is the failure of politics. It is a Neocon wet dream,
bogeymen created to feed contractors and bury young Americans. There is
no Al Queada. The Taliban are, after all, Afghans, and our troops are
not. Just as there were no WMD’s in Iraq, and prisoners were tortured
to support the administration’s lies.

These current
entanglements are Neocon fantasies for unipolar domination, Iraq to
control the oil market and Afghanistan to limit Russia’s ability to
sell her oil. So when I see Barack Obama buying into this, I am less
than pleased. Obama ran for office as a progressive but so far has
governed as a conservative. He has sought bipartisan support for health
care reform when history and logic would tell you that it is not there.

"I
don't like bipartisans. Whenever a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I
know that he's going to vote against me." (Harry Truman)

It is
as if Obama began the health care debate with a first down on the fifty
yard line and has been angling for field position to kick a field goal
ever since.

“About the meanest thing you can say about a man is that he means well.” (Harry Truman)

“We shall be judged more by what we do at home than what we preach abroad.” (John F Kennedy)

“It
isn't sufficient just to want - you've got to ask yourself what you are
going to do to get the things you want.” (Franklin Roosevelt)

So
when I see Hillary Clinton advocating military bases in Colombia or
when Barak Obama says, “By moving forward in Iraq, we're able to
refocus on the war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies in
Afghanistan and Pakistan. That's why I announced a new, comprehensive
strategy in March -- a strategy that recognizes that al Qaeda and its
allies had moved their base from the remote, tribal areas -- to the
remote, tribal areas of Pakistan,” I have to ask myself, who are these
people calling themselves Democrats? I guess they mean well but they
don’t sound like the Democrats I remember.

Those newspapers of
the nation which most loudly cried dictatorship against me would have
been the first to justify the beginnings of dictatorship by somebody
else. (Franklin Roosevelt)