Tuesday, December 07, 2004

BUT SERIOUSLY, FOLKS... I repent and reform. For too long I have been one of
those liberals who know only how to complain. When the Administration has invaded non-combatant countries, bombing the shit out of thousands of civilians and leaving them in chaos, and run up huge deficits that led to no evident improvements in American life, and when its cheerleaders have accused all dissent to this approach as treasonous and atheistic, I have been less than serious in my response.

But I have seen the light, and offer an adult, positive, and above all serious suggestion regarding the future of our politics.

Many people have asked, in all seriousness, "Whither the Democratic Party?" Many fine, moderate, and serious people have agreed that, though they despise all DemoRats, it is a shame that the Party only won a marginal, insignificant, damning-to-utter-irrelevance 48 percent of the national vote this year, as it is important that we have a "viable and sensible competitor to the Republicans" because -- well, I'm not sure why, but I'm sure the reason is serious... oh, here's an explanation at Enter Stage Right, which proposes that Democrats be maintained as a sort of consultative body: "As a serious minority party, Democrats could challenge the ethical behavior of Republicans when Republicans grew jaded at having power for too long." You know, like a constitutional monarch, or a fellow you bring in from time to time to give your Integrity a good workout.

While actual Democrats might be tempted to offer an unserious and obscene counter-proposal, my serious suggestion is that these Republicans stop trying to get the Democrats to render service as a Loyal Opposition. Being traitors, they would probably start asking for universal health care and such like, defeating the whole purpose of Loyal Oppositionism.

Therefore I suggest the Republicans take a page from Delta Airlines. A few years ago, wanting to get in on the small-airline craze, Delta created its own "niche" airline, Song. Though it has a very indie look and feel, Song remains a subsidiary of the aviation giant. (See also Matador Records.)

In a similar spirit, rather than wrangling the Democrats into serving as their conscience/tackling dummy Other, the Republicans can just create their own niche political party.

The Party could be called, at least in beta, the Perublicans. The Perublicans could recruit political talent from within its own ranks, from the more cooperative precincts of the Democratic Party, and, of course, from the blogosphere. To each Republican proposal, the Perublicans could offer a serious "Yes, but..." that would probe, test, invite debate on, and ultimately validate that proposal.

The President's proposal to borrow massively to pay for Social Security reform, for example, would be seriously challenged by Perublicans, probably after the manner of Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert Bixby on the subject: "Ideally, Social Security reform should be done without any borrowing. That would require hard choices that politicians aren't inclined to make... If they do have to do some borrowing, I hope they keep it to a minimum." The Perublicans would keep this line of argument up until Republicans were ready to vote on a bill; being Loyal, the Perublicans would attempt no filibusters or parliamentary hanky-panky as the measure was being passed; and they would unite with their Republican brothers behind the new program, with several of their number appearing for photographs with the President as he signed it into law.

When quizzed by disappointed constituents or the press, Perublicans would point out that each disastrous proposal got a full hearing before it was approved, and that this full and fair exchange of ideas was a stern rebuke to Michael Moore.

By such clear-eyed, sober, constructive, and serious contributions, we may yet achieve for this great nation a situation that is very serious indeed.

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