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Pelosi, Delay represent their party philosophies
By Doug Patton
As a liberal Democrat in the 1970s who saw the light and became a conservative Republican in the 1980s, I believe I understand both philosophies, because it is at the outer left and right ideological edges that the party activists live. These are the people who write their partys platform, who take the time to be involved at the local, state and national levels.
Although the party platforms are rarely the guiding documents for either Republican or Democrat candidates, a perusal of the philosophy contained within them reveals a striking contrast in core beliefs. It also illuminates the contrasts of the two people selected last week to lead the two parties in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., is an excellent choice to embody the far-left policies of her party. This very liberal San Francisco Democrat represents a district where Al Gore received 77 percent of the vote in 2000 and George W. Bush outpolled Ralph Nader by only 7 percentage points. Her nine terms in Congress expose a record which shows that, like those activists who wrote her partys platform, she believes in abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, controlling public education from Washington, restrictive gun control, gutting the military, environmental extremism, and tax and spend economic policies. In short, she will represent House Democrats very well.
Rep. Tom Delay, R-Texas, is an equally good choice to represent the GOP philosophy. Nicknamed "The Hammer" for his forceful style when he was House Majority Whip, Delay was unanimously chosen to fill Dick Armeys shoes as Majority Leader.
Like those of us who have toiled in the platform committees of the party conventions for many years, Delay believes in defending the Second Amendment, the sanctity of human life, military preparedness, marriage between one man and one woman, sensible environmentalism, local control of education and letting taxpayers keep as much of their own money as possible.
Republicans and Democrats alike have maligned both Nancy Pelosi and Tom Delay. Republicans snicker that Pelosi will be too liberal to ever win over public opinion, while moderate Democrats whine that her liberal philosophies wont fly in the heartland. Conversely, middle of the road Republicans and liberal Democrats decry Delays conservatism.
But the selection of these two passionate partisans is the perfect microcosm of politics in our time. Like those of us who have battled through the trenches of conventions, caucuses, debates, press conferences and primaries for candidates we desperately wanted to see prevail, these two will fight for what they believe. And though compromise may ultimate be achieved, it will not be a forgone conclusion going into every battle.
Nancy Pelosi is a smart politician. She shows no sign of a shrill persona that will create a negative reaction among the American people. But make no mistake: she will lead her party to the left, and when she does, the GOP had better be prepared to offer something more than me-too, liberal-lite policies that offer an echo instead of a choice.
This is why the election of Delay was so important. Conservatives love him, moderates respect him and liberals fear him. He knows what he believes and has shown repeatedly that he is willing to fight tenaciously for those values. He is an accomplished politician, yes, but he has never been known to stick his finger into the fickle Washington wind in order to determine its direction.
Pelosi and Delay, the ultraliberal versus the archconservative. This is going to be a Congress to remember.
© 2002 by Doug Patton
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