Democrats need to start calling Republicans on the matters of national security, family values, education and big government. Conservatives have for too long claimed these issues while Democrats have tended to pony up credentials that say “me too”. Between voluble right-wing media rants, organizations like “Focus on the Family”, the “Family Research Council” and the recent Conservative Convention Democrats have often been drawn into contentious areas that defy rational debate. No serious discussion can be had with idealogues like Ann Coulter, and no common ground exists with those who claim only this administration can safeguard our nation and protect our interests around the globe. Democrats need to frame the debate, not just respond to gibberish that tends to obscure important national concerns.
I can’t think of a single Democrat, liberal or otherwise, who doesn’t love their country and want to keep it safe. It is absurd to imply that groups on the left or in the middle do not care about their country. Right wingers who ask “why do they hate America” ask a ridiculous question. But instead of responding with impassioned patriotic rhetoric, the accused should question the sincerity of those who engage in politically motivated nonsense. No-one on either side of the political divide needs to validate their patriotic credentials, regardless of disagreements over methodology.
And what Democrat doesn’t want the very best education for their children? Nor do parents on the left foster concepts that subvert love of country or undermine respect for family members – – how silly for the right to suggest such things. Calls for prayer in school are said to promote a positive way to start the day. But surely children can pray at home, on a bus or wherever without having that practice formalized in school. The right’s position is really just a back-door way of proselytizing their group-think agenda. What concerned parents want are school programs that provide a broad spectrum of ideas, not educational imperatives overlaid with religious dogma.
With respect to Conservative talking points about smaller government and lower taxes the hidden agenda is so well hidden most people of whatever persuasion just don’t get it. Privatization has produced some less than satisfactory results, for example staffing at Walter Reed – – diminished numbers and careless or non-existent oversight. The very notion that private enterprise in place of government is a win-win proposition confounds the basic principles of capitalism to create wealth and reward investors. As it turns out such efforts are often more expensive simply because profit incentives are not cost-saving measures, nor is competition part of the big picture in many of these ventures.
The current policy of lowering taxes for the rich, conducting a war on borrowed funds, allowing corporations to outsource jobs to cheap labor markets and hide profits offshore is hardly a constructive plan for future generations. If this administration’s economic favoritism and its obdurate war stance endear the president to many on the right the fallacy inherent in its policies will likely haunt those who remain long after the president has left town. Wouldn’t now be the time for Congress to call for an appropriate means of funding the war in Iraq by either imposing a war tax or rescinding some of the huge tax cuts enjoyed by the wealthiest segment of our population?
Shouldn’t the word ‘accountability’ at long last actually mean something? What could a Congress run by the president’s party have been thinking to provide so little oversight regarding the conduct and funding of the war in Iraq? When Paul Bremer recently defended the enormous waste during his time in Baghdad by saying there had to be an immediate release of funds to address needs on the ground there, did that explanation satisfy anyone? After all it’s not as if the early days of the occupation were followed by unqualified success. Aren’t taxpayers entitled to know how their money is spent? And aren’t the issues corporate malfeasance, a breathtaking level of incompetence and, oh yes, the indefatigable desire to privatize at all costs.
Our troops are asked to serve for a pittance of what private contractors are paid. And they function for the most part according to rules of combat established by the military command. Contractors and private security forces which number in the thousands, on the other hand, are accountable to no-one even though their actions impact how we are perceived by local populations, and our tax dollars sustain them. Their actions should be open to scrutiny and subject to rebuke. And given the early missteps with respect to protecting troops in the field, the callous inattention to returning military personnel and the needs of veterans in general Conservatives should never again be allowed to batter opponents by questioning their support for the troops.
And when the subject of big government is raised Democrats need to ask whether a huge military-industrial complex, an ever-expanding war and turning the country into a gigantic and expensive armed fortress is what Republicans had in mind when they proposed shrinking the size and cost of the federal government.

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