|Groucho Marx said it best
By Carol Devine-Molin
"Whatever It Is, I'm Against It!" is one of Groucho Marx's all-time great comic tunes.
In the 1932 cinema classic Horse Feathers, the inimitable Groucho Marx plays Huxley College's newly installed president, Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff, whose opening song, "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It!", introduces Marx's character as the quintessential contrarian exuding negativity. And I can't think of a better set of lyrics, cited above, that epitomizes the Loony Left faction that now dominates the Democratic Party. Who do I speak of? Senators Edward Kennedy, Barbara Boxer, John Kerry, Harry Reid, Governor Howard Dean, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and the moveon.org crowd are just a small sampling of the Democratic Party's radical Left-wing that's hell-bent on opposing all of President Bush's initiatives.
Even Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a committed Leftist herself, understands that the Loony Left (or better yet, the Kook Left) has lost all appeal for mainstream Americans. Hence, Hillary is now making a concerted effort to position herself as a "centrist", which is a very smart tactical move on her part, particularly if she's preparing to run for the presidency in 2008. The question is whether she'll be able to continue to distance herself from the quacks, given their growing influence within the Democratic Party. Of course, Hillary has to outreach to the mainstream; but she has to maintain her base as well. That could prove dicey. With Howard "I've Gotta Scream" Dean poised to become her party's new chairman and spokesman, it only bodes poorly for the Democrats, and exceedingly well for the Republicans.
But, in any event, I now have another apropos moniker for the Kook Left members of the Democratic Party -- the Groucho Marxists. Why? Because they're the fringe Leftists that are oh-so-silly. Foolishly, the Groucho Marxists are only succeeding at radicalizing the Democratic Party, placing it at odds with the majority of Americans. This is not a winning strategy for the Democrats.
Americans expect Republicans and Democrats to exhibit some semblance of cooperation for the sake of solving our national problems, especially the major ones. Americans don't approve of Democrats being nasty obstructionists that wallow in anger and frustration because they're out of power. Sadly, the Democrats really don't have the nation's best interests at heart. In fact, the Democrats are opposed to bipartisan efforts because any success will primarily redound to the president. Well of course this naturally occurs, but there should always be room for collaboration. Just look at the political landscape of the 1990s. The Republicans did indeed work with President Clinton, and any Democrats on board, regarding welfare reform, spending cuts, trade agreements and other matters where common ground could be cultivated. The bottom line is this: If the Democrats persist in their churlishness and obstructionism, the American public will inevitably extract a political price from them. To quote an old adage, the Democratic Party is currently "cutting off its nose to spite its face."
Clearly, the Democratic leadership is confused about the political lessons of the past. They apparently think they're now emulating the effectiveness of firebrand Newt Gingrich who engineered the Republican takeover of both houses of Congress in 1994. Yes, it's accurate to say that the Republicans banded together and assiduously pummeled President Clinton and the Democrats. House Democrats were particularly vulnerable given their corruption and excesses borne of forty years of rule.
But there are a few pivotal points to underscore: The Republicans simultaneously put forth a bold alternative vision -- in other words, principled ideals and reforms - that Americans found appealing, most notably those found in the "Contract with America." It's not enough for Democrats to be shrill and contentious in their response to President Bush. Their party must delineate new ideas, new solutions, in order to persevere. But, unfortunately for them, the Democrats are bankrupt of ideas. Moreover, during the last decade, the Republicans sought common ground, and cooperated with President Clinton and the Democrats on a number of issues for the wellbeing of the nation. In contrast, the Democrats of 2005 have tossed bipartisan collaboration by the wayside. With Social Security reform at the top of President Bush's domestic agenda, obstructionism by the Democrats will only come back to bite them. For instance, their claim that the current system doesn't require a major overhaul is ludicrous.
Social Security's "pay as you go" system is nothing more than a ponzi scheme that will begin to run a deficit in thirteen years, in 2018. That's not a long time projection, particularly when you consider that only a second term president, without concern for reelection, is going to have the chutzpa to tackle the "third rail of American politics" that could permanently zap his or her political career. And there's no guarantee that after Bush leaves office in 2008 that we'll have another two-term president before 2018. Now is the time to address the broken Social Security system because we are losing revenues each and every day that elapses. Social Security, as currently administered, is a lousy deal that only generates about a one percent rate of return on the monies paid into the system. However, the good news is that the long-term rate of return on corporate stocks is about 7 percent, which certainly argues for personal accounts.
In his latest book, Winning The Future, Newt Gingrich dedicates an entire chapter to Social Security and explains the impending disaster that we must seek to avert: "From 2018 until the trust funds run out in 2042, the federal government will have to come up with an additional $8 trillion in today's dollars for Social Security in order to keep paying all promised benefits during that period. That's a huge financial crisis starting just thirteen years from now." However, if we're willing to deal with the problems at hand, then the outlook is considerably brighter, as Gingrich notes: "Modernizing Social Security through personal accounts would raise take-home pay and free workers to put hundreds of billions and ultimately trillions of dollars in savings and investment; that would be a huge benefit to our economy."
Despite the propaganda machine of the Democrats that systematically opposes everything that President Bush promotes, my belief is that the GOP and its allies will succeed at properly educating Americans about Social Security's difficulties, and get them on board for the sweeping reforms that will be required.
Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.
Get weekly updates about new issues of ESR!
© 1996-2019, Enter Stage Right and/or its creators. All rights reserved.