Milwaukee Community Journal

Live and learn… this country mouse just discovered another great bit of cheese! The Milwaukee Community Journal, touting themselves as “Wisconsin’s Largest African American Newspaper.” I discovered it via the backdoor after someone sent me a link to the following great editorial they published at: Hats off to greater independent media and to Howad Dean as well.

Joe Biden or Howard Dean: Which Democrat are you?

by Ron Walters, NNPA Columnist

I have to say this up front: I have had it with the likes of Joe Biden. The man whose confused politics as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee led to the approval of Clarence Thomas is still confused.

On a recent edition of Meet the Press, Howard Dean challenged the Republicans, saying that they were members of a largely ”White Christian party,” as well as being people who ”never worked an honest day in their lives” and that Tom Delay ought to go back to Texas where he could serve his jail sentence.

In other words, Dean did something that few other Democrats have had the guts to do – stand up to the Republicans on their own terms.

But Joe Biden and other ”moderate” Democrats have, once again, caved in to the presumed popularity of conservatives and chastised their own party chair in public. This something Republicans would never do.

Where has Biden been for the last decade? Republicans have taken out after Democrats and ”liberals” in the meanest, nastiest rhetoric possible on the floor of the House and Senate, in the media, and even in church.

They have repeatedly berated Senator Ted Kennedy, virtually making him a symbol of a left-wing kook, often with few of his colleagues in the Senate fighting back for him.

Tom Delay said recently that religious people who followed Democratic Party views on the issue of life during the Terri Schaivo event would suffer retaliation. Not one of his own colleagues took to the floor to oppose him.

Most important the voices of minority politicians were added to the public spanking of Dean. Senator Barak Obama said that he was ”using religion to divide” when he referred to Republicans as being in a ”White Christian Party.”

Where has he been in the debates on the floor when elected officials and their political counterparts in the think tanks have tried to suggest that the founders of this country consciously created a Christian nation?

This position was supposed to privilege the role of Christians in politics and public policy, especially the radical Right-wing born-again that have taken over much of the Republican Party. Dean was not talking about all Christians. So, why were they not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt?

Gov. Bill Richardson put some distance between himself and Dean with his remarks, agreeing with others that he doesn’t speak for the Party, ”its governors, it’s senators, its party leaders.”

Well, what is Dean if he is not a Party leader? In fact, part of the problem with many Democratic Party leaders is that they have confused the rank-and-file with a wishy-washy politics that has resulted in following George Bush, rather than being the loyal opposition.

The fact is that there has repeatedly been a one-way attempt at consensus politics by Democrats, which has worked to their disadvantage.

A Black Senator and Hispanic governor should be the last people to shut up a straight-talking Democratic Party chair, when Republicans have fostered public policies that have pulverized their constituencies.

It is not only un-politic, but something lacking in logic when Democratic Party leaders join with Republicans to make Howard Dean an issue, when their political strategy should be to keep the heat on Bush and his policies.

While this was going on, the Senate approved the appointment of two of the most conservative judges in recent years, an ACLU Report was issued charging that Guantanamo was the ”American Gulag,” the Downing Memorandum surfaced suggesting the Bush fixed intelligence to support his early intention to invade Iraq.
Why divert the heat from the administration to cuss out your own party chair, especially for saying things that are essentially true.

Well, here we go. Many of the Democratic elected officials Richardson talked about are cautious about roughing up Republicans because they are running for something and might make potential voters angry.

These are the Democrats who have adopted a cautious ”third-way” politics to appeal to conservatives, while retaining their base. They can’t appeal to conservatives however, if Dean makes them mad, so they oppose Dean in essence for pulling the covers off of this politics.

He is doing what should have been done a long time ago, by helping Democratic voters decide just who the progressives are: Who will oppose the unconscionable waste of resources being spent in an illegal war?

Who will approve of radical Christians taking over American politics and policy? Who will oppose policies that hurt people rather than seek some less hurtful consensus? And just who will stand up and be a member of ”the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party?”

The public opposition of some Democratic officials to Dean is sickening. It must not continue if Democrats are to know who they are and where they are really going.

Ron Walters is the Distinguished Leadership Scholar, director of the African American Leadership Institute in the Academy of Leadership and professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland-College Park. His latest book is “White Nationalism, Black Interests” (Wayne State University Press).

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