We Need a Sane Opposition


Some day there may be a statue to Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) in Washington, D.C. All it will take is for the Republican leadership to learn the lesson he just taught them, and for Sen. Cochran’s campaign staff to stop trying to deny the facts of the matter. On the other hand, if the lesson isn’t learned, there may no longer be a Washington, D.C., but something more akin to the background of a Michael Bay movie.

Consider the recent runoff election between Sen. Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel in Mississippi. The revisionists are already spinning the facts, but they don’t change – the Tea Party-backed McDaniel edged Cochran in the first primary, and was expected to win in the run-off. The standard response of a Republican incumbent attacked from the right has been to try to move even further right than his opponent,

Instead, Cochran did the unthinkable – he appealed to Liberal Democrats for their votes. Under Mississippi rules, any voter who hadn’t voted in the Democratic primary was eligible to vote in the Republican run-off. “Liberal Democrats” is a euphemism for “them,” any one of a number of terms that denote race other than Caucasian, and Sen. Cochran went to the churches and diners and barbecues and knocked on doors. He even appealed to unions. Sen. Cochran had compromised! He admitted that he was hardly the first choice of the liberal Democrats, and that with a divided GOP, there was even a chance that Travis Childers, the Democratic candidate, might win – but Sen. Cochran had an exemplary record for bringing Federal money into Mississippi, including funding for education. This is essential for a state where 45.8% of state income is from Federal funding, and the state receives $3.07 for every dollar it pays in income taxes. The Democrats understood. They came out to vote for Sen. Cochran and provided his margin of victory in the run-off.

It’s important to understand that one-party government doesn’t work. It failed in the USSR and it’s failing in the southeastern states because in each case, the goal of leaders becomes the welfare of the party rather than the welfare of the people. In February 2014, the American Mental Health Counselors Association issued a report “Dashed Hopes; Broken Promises; More Despair: How the Lack of State Participation in the Medicaid Expansion Will Punish Americans with Mental Illness.” In Texas, 652,000 people are going without the health coverage that would be theirs under the Affordable Care Act because the Republicans refuse to let President Obama have a success and provide near-universal health coverage for Americans. Nationally, about 4 million people are suffering because of Republican opposition to a Democratic initiative that was originally a Republican idea.

But we need a second party – only not the one we have. An effective opposition helps prevent corruption, points out the flaws in ideas, and, when essential, opposes bad policies. It offers a reasonable alternative for voters when reform is called for. Some nations have several parties that work through coalition governments, and that works too, but one-party doesn’t. Tragically, the Republicans lost sight of the goal of government, “... establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity ...” and focus only on their role as opposition. Chris McDaniel was a typical Tea Party extremist who called for a balanced Federal budget by cutting Federal spending in a state that is totally dependent on Federal money just to survive. He has refused to concede the election because the Cochran votes came from “liberal Democrats”.

The Republicans initially embraced the Tea Party because it brought votes and wins, but the Tea Party has probably cost more votes than it provided, and refused to be subservient to the Republicans. The Washington Post even discusses Tea Party members choosing to vote for Democrat Childers over Cochran. Meanwhile, the hard right positions of the Republicans are killing the party in a nation that is changing, moving to the left – better educated, more tolerant, more urban. Just a few years ago, Republicans brought out their base by putting ballot referendums blocking same-sex marriage. How’s that working for them now? The Republican still have the power to destroy, but they’re increasingly a regional force that lacks the ability to create.

The Tea Party happily destroyed Eric Cantor, and every senior Republican must be afraid – except Thad Cochran who discovered the secret – he cooperated! Even in the United States of ten and twenty years from now, there will be room for a center right party, but it’s already too late to win nationally on a platform of misogyny and xenophobia. If they learn the value of cooperation, there’s hope for them yet.

Sam Uretsky is a writer and pharmacist living on Long Island, N.Y. Email sdu01@outlook.com.

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2014


Blog | Current Issue | Back Issues | Essays | Links

About the Progressive Populist | How to Subscribe | How to Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 The Progressive Populist
PO Box 819, Manchaca TX 78652