Peter Lemiska
Can Democrats ever reconstitute a conscience?
By Peter Lemiska
January 17, 2010

Congress and the administration appear more determined than ever to saddle the American people with their vision of health care reform, even in the face of overwhelming opposition by their constituents. Having long ago forgotten that they were elected to represent the will of the people, they now turn a deaf ear to the flood of objections and concerns voiced by the very same voters who put them in office. Closing ranks, Democrats seem oblivious to the political consequences of their blind determination and arrogance, as they covertly plot their corrupt deals behind those closed doors in Washington. Meanwhile we, the people, get only brief glimpses of what is to come — disturbing bits and pieces.

Even before these secret negotiations began, we witnessed outrageous examples of the odious pacts that brand so many of our congressmen and senators as corrupt politicians, rather than leaders. The $300 million Senator Landrieu accepted in exchange for her support of the senate bill may be a boon to the people of Louisiana, but that money comes directly from the pockets of American taxpayers. Could it perhaps have been better spent paying down our soaring national debt? Even more outrageous was Senator Ben Nelson's deal to permanently exempt Nebraska from its share of Medicaid expansion costs — costs that will be picked up by the taxpayers of the remaining 49 states. Even honest Nebraskans understand the unsavory nature of the so-called "Cornhusker Kickback." According to a recent Rasmussen poll, only 17% of Nebraska voters approve of the special privilege Nelson accepted in exchange for his support of the bill. In addition to the public outcry, the attorneys general from 13 other states are questioning the constitutionality of the deal and threatening legal action against it.

And now we learn of yet another sweetheart deal hammered out by Democrats — a payoff for union support. Under the plan, union workers would be exempt until 2018 from the so-called "Cadillac Tax" on health insurance plans. Of course those billions of dollars in lost revenue, revenue that was intended to offset the costs of the final health care bill, will have to come from some other source. I wonder where that might be.

But public opinion and legal issues aside, the ethical lapses in this congress are astonishing to most honest Americans. How can all 60 Democrats in the senate fail to understand the inherent injustice of affording special rights and privileges to one group at the expense of the rest of the country? Why are they ignoring the will of the people? And are they somehow unable to see that those craven and unscrupulous secret negotiations directly contradict all those promises of transparency?

Of course it's not about misreading public opinion, hasty decisions, or forgotten promises. It is about ignoring public opinion, calculated decisions, and false promises. It's about an obsession with a bill that has rendered everything else, including conscience, irrelevant. And while some might argue that this is simply party loyalty over thoughtful analysis, it is much more. It is pragmatism over ethics. It is what some call Chicago-style politics. And while these unconscionable politicians desperately try to brand Republicans as "the party of no" for opposing this unscrupulous process, it's become abundantly clear that Democrats have become the party of anything goes.

On January 19, voters in Massachusetts will be selecting a candidate to occupy Senator Kennedy's seat (or as David Gergen learned, the people's seat.) Polls now suggest that Republican Scott Brown has a good chance to win, even in this heavily Democratic state. If he wins this election, and the Democrats don't employ more devious tactics, like delaying his certification, or implementing the reconciliation process, there is a chance that this costly and unfair bill may yet be replaced by more equitable, bi-partisan legislation, negotiated in open debate.

Most Massachusetts Democrats will probably choose party loyalty over thoughtful analysis and their vote for Coakley is a foregone conclusion. But perhaps some of them will look at this new Democratic Party and not like what they see.

A few might examine the candidates a little more closely than they normally would. Maybe they'll look back to 2005, when then District Attorney Martha Coakley appeared a bit reluctant to prosecute former police officer and child rapist Keith Winfield. We've all heard by now the cliché that prosecutors can indict a ham sandwich, yet she failed miserably to get that indictment, and had to be prodded to push forward with the case. Was it gross incompetence, or something else? Was she giving preferential treatment to a police officer? Or, as some have alleged, did her reluctance have anything to do with Winfield's father, a union representative, who allegedly assisted Coakley in her campaign for attorney general? Unproven? Yes, but the circumstances should at least raise an eyebrow or two, even on the faces of life-long Democrats.

Or perhaps they might watch the more recent clips of those Coakley thugs and their heavy-handed efforts to silence legitimate press inquiries. They might think about this new direction the Democratic Party has taken, and they might decide to vote their conscience.

As for the Democrats in congress, the question is not how many seats they will lose this year, but whether or not they can ever reconstitute anything resembling a conscience.

© Peter Lemiska


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Peter Lemiska

Peter Lemiska served in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Secret Service. Following his retirement from the Secret Service, he spent several years as a volunteer for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Like most of his contemporaries, he's always loved his country, and is deeply dismayed by this new and insidious anti-American sentiment threatening to destroy it. He's a life-long conservative, and his opinion pieces have been published in various print media and on numerous internet sites.


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