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The Democratic Party Adds Nothing to the National Debate

By Robert Tracinski

Like many on the right, I have been deeply unsatisfied with the Republican Congress. The Republicans, I thought, ought to lose enough seats in the November congressional elections that they feel they've been punished for runaway federal spending.

But as the election gets nearer and I think more about what is at stake, I have come to realize that the best outcome is for the Democrats to lose. The Democrats' failure to regain control of either house of Congress would be a good start. But an unambiguous and humiliating defeat--even a loss of Democratic seats in the House and Senate--would be much better.

The best thing we can do in this election is to crush the left--because the Democratic Party adds nothing of value to the American political debate.

American politics isn't just a scramble for power. It is a giant national debate, with every newspaper article, think tank report, political ad, and presidential speech adding new facts, ideas, explanations, and proposals for the public to evaluate. When evaluating a political party, we should ask: what does it add to the debate?

In the American system, of course, we don't vote for parties but for individual candidates. So if your local congressional candidate has championed a particularly evil political agenda, is under indictment, or is named "Katherine Harris," then by all means vote for the other guy. But if your local House and Senate candidates are unexceptional--and too many of them are--then your vote is really about which party should have the power to appoint committee chairmen, hold hearings, issue subpoenas, and steer the nation's legislative debate. And the Democratic Party no longer has anything of value to offer.

Let's take a look at every major issue that might be a concern to a pro-national defense, pro-liberty voter.

Are you concerned about big government? The Republican-controlled Congress has ballooned the federal budget. The problem is not "earmarks" or "pork-barrel" spending, which account for only 1% of the federal budget. Nor is it welfare for the poor. The real driver of runaway government spending is welfare for us--the automatic growth of Social Security and Medicare, the "middle-class entitlements."

Which party offers a solution to this problem? The Republicans certainly are guilty of egregious failures. In 2005, congressional Republicans abandoned President Bush's very modest Social Security privatization plan. Two years earlier, Bush himself rammed through, over the objections of congressional Republicans, the biggest new middle-class entitlement, the Medicare prescription drug benefit.

But what have the Democrats offered? They have campaigned, not to reduce government spending, but to increase tax rates to keep up with runaway spending.

If you want to have a debate over big government versus small government, you'll have to have it within the right. The left contributes nothing of value.

Are you concerned about immigration? There are some on the right who believe in legalizing immigration to allow a freer flow of labor and to welcome hard-working immigrants who want to share the "American dream." There are also many on the right who have launched a populist campaign to keep Mexican immigrants from "stealing our jobs." In my view, this is unworthy of a party that says it stands for free markets and American ideals. But the right is vigorously debating the issue, with some prominent right-leaning publications (National Review, for example) crusading against immigration, while others (The Wall Street Journal, for example) defend immigration.

And what does the left contribute to this debate? It contributes rallies sponsored by Communist anti-war groups at which Hispanic immigrants wave the Mexican flag and academic radicals vow to "re-conquer" the American Southwest for Mexico.

If you want to have a pro-immigration versus anti-immigration debate, you'll have to have it within the right. The left contributes nothing of value.

Are you concerned that religion is exerting too great a role in politics? A lot of the right is guilty on that count, advocating things as modest as government funding for "faith-based" charities and as garish as Katherine Harris's declaration that God "chooses our rulers." But you'll also find a small contingent that argues against the intrusion of religion into politics and advocates a secular foundation for the right--a debate brought out into the open, most recently, in a brave defense of the secular right by the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald.

What has the left, which is associated with militant secularism, contributed to this debate? In a speech last week, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry lamented that he was too "reticent" in 2004 in discussing how his Catholic faith shaped his political views and called for a "faith-based debate on the issues of war and peace." Meanwhile, favorite leftist strongman Hugo Chavez calls President Bush "the Devil" and claims that Jesus was "the first socialist."

If you protest that faith should never be imposed by force, and you are unwise enough to use Islam as an example--well, then the left-leaning New York Times will be the first to scold you. Sam Harris--author of The End of Faith and a card-carrying member of the secular left--has bitterly complained about his fellow leftists' willingness, in the name of an allegedly secular cultural subjectivism, to make excuses for Islam.

And that brings us to the War on Terrorism. When there is an actual battle raging between secular Western governments and fanatical religious zealots who want to impose their religion by the sword, there is only one political party that is asking you to fight back.

There is a lot of debate on the right over the best way to fight back. For example, should we try to undermine the Iranian regime by supporting dissidents, or will we have to use force to prevent the Iranian theocracy from getting the bomb?

What does the left contribute to this debate? Virginia Democratic Senate Candidate Jim Webb complains that we're losing in Iraq and thinks that the answer is to engage in more diplomacy to lure Syria and Iran--our enemies--to "stabilize" Iraq. As Pakistan surrenders its northwestern province to Taliban rule, John Kerry proposes that we respond by increasing our aid money to Pakistan. Meanwhile, Bill Clinton reappears to wag his finger at us again and insist that his utter failure to strike back at Bin Laden was really the best defense against al-Qaeda that we could have expected.

And I'm not even counting the barking moonbats of the far left who think that al-Qaeda terrorists are "freedom fighters."

So if you want to have a debate over how to fight and win the War on Terrorism, you'll have to have it within the right. The left contributes nothing but proposals for surrender, appeasement, and passivity. As far as the war is concerned, that "D" next to a candidate's name on the ballot stands for "defeat."

A loss for the Democratic Party in November's election would be a crushing blow. If they lose when every short-term political trend was in their favor, everyone will see it as a public repudiation of the Democratic Party. I advocate this outcome, not because I think it will cause soul-searching and a change of policies within the left--though that may well be the short-term result--but simply because the decay of the left is the long-term trend of the past three decades, and we should do everything we can to hasten it.

The more the left fades from the scene, the more the national political debate will be a debate within the right. The American system is not friendly to monolithic one-party rule. The moment one party begins to dominate, it tends to split apart along its internal fault lines. The more the Republicans dominate American politics, therefore, the more intensely they will debate among themselves--precisely the kinds of debates I have described above.

I can't guarantee that such a debate would produce the best result--I would like to see the emergence of a small-government, pro-immigration, pro-war, secular right--but I can guarantee that such a debate would be more interesting and much more productive than the debate we're having with the left right now.

So this November, let's crush the left. Once the left is safely out of the way, we'll be free to begin the much more serious and important business of splintering the right.

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and

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