This column is archived at http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2006/cbarchive_20061116.html
Now that the Democrats have taken control of both houses of Congress, it is time for them to "put up." The sad reality of the situation is, both parties are prone to only complain when the opposite party is in charge, but when it comes their turn to run the ship of state, they usually wind up doing a bunch of nothing.
For several years, Democrats have squawked about two subjects that they should now make a priority to address. One is the misnamed Patriot Act, and the second is the ill-fated war in Iraq.
Let's face it: the USA Patriot Act is a bane to freedom! It abridges constitutional protection of our liberties, bloats federal police powers to a level rivaling the Third Reich, and does more to enslave the American people than it does to protect them from terrorists.
Democrats have repeatedly criticized the Patriot Act. In fact, they have mostly been the ones to faithfully vote against it in legislative session. This is commendable. However, now that they will control majorities in both the House and Senate, it is time to pass legislation to bring the Patriot Act into conformity with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Anything less will mean that the Democrats were just so much hot air. I suspect their objections were just that.
Remember, it was Bill Clinton and Al Gore that first offered their version of the Patriot Act back in the 1990's. You will recall that it was rejected by a Republican-controlled Congress. (Isn't it amazing how power seems to determine legislation's worth or lack thereof?) In the end, both parties are pro-big government. I don't look for Democrats to do anything to rein in this out-of-control, police-state mentality in Washington, D.C.
Secondly, if there was one issue that turned the tide in favor of Democrats in this last election, it was the war in Iraq. The vast majority of the American people rightly believe we should never have invaded Iraq, and that to continue our occupation of Iraq only serves to demoralize our own country, including our military forces, and strengthen our adversaries.
The problem is, we have dug a huge hole in Iraq that will be extremely difficult to extricate ourselves from. No matter how we try to do it, the results will only reveal the fallacy of thinking we could ever "democratize" a nation such as Iraq. It was an impossible dream from the beginning, which only leads people (including me) to speculate that there had to be another reason prompting President Bush to invade. I believe history will place the invasion of Iraq among the worst political/military decisions of all time, and will probably doom Bush's presidential ranking to among the all-time worst.
So, what will Democrats do about Iraq? Will they continue to fund a continuation, and even expansion, of the war? Will they push the White House for some kind of timely withdrawal? At the same time, will they be willing to acknowledge the threat that militant Muslims pose to America? And will they sacrifice America's overall military readiness on the altar of Iraq? How the Democratic Party answers those questions will largely determine whether this election was the beginning of a political monopoly or whether it will be a one-year flash-in-the-pan. I expect they will push through some type of withdrawal from Iraq. However, this will be delicate and very problematic and could just as easily backfire on them.
One thing we can anticipate without risk of misjudgment is that the Democratic-controlled Congress will work hand-in-glove with President George W. Bush in further opening the floodgates of illegal immigration. Amnesty for illegals is now an absolute certainty. The North American Union is a certainty. The NAFTA super highway is a certainty. In this area, Bush is probably happy that Democrats won the election. The only opposition he had to his dream of creating a hemispheric government was from conservatives within his own party. Now that they are out of power, he has no opposition to speak of.
Democrats have been given a chance to see if they are capable of doing something right. I doubt that they are. In all likelihood, Democrats will resort to their diabolical promotion of liberal social issues such as embryonic stem cell research, gay marriage, and abortion.
In such an event, will voters redundantly and robotically return to a worn-out GOP, or will they seek a viable independent party? For the sake of our country's future, I sincerely hope it is the latter.