POTOMAC OBSERVER Lay Your Hands on Your TV on C-SPAN Washington DC Here’s the next impossible task for the battered remnant of the progressive forces inside and outside Congress: Heal the Republicans. The poor dears! They’re so paranoid about the underclass, so hostile to government doing anything except for helping the rich stay rich. And they’re so, well, tacky about being pro-death-penalty, anti-guncontrol, anti-abortion, and pro-tax-breaks. They can’t even notice, much less stop, the social destruction caused by their romantic commitment to purely notional abstractions such as “the free enterprise system.” So since the Republicans can’t see their evil, we have to heal not only ourselves, but them too. That’s the penalty of far-sightedness, which progressives always suffer. Besides, we can’t just hate the bastards; we have to lead them out of their reactionary quagmire and into the light of day. Generally at a distance of about 50 years, which is how long it takes formerly liberal orthodoxies to penetrate the dim Republican brain and become “new conservative” battle-cries. All the current tenderness for the brittle susceptibilities of white suburban males is nothing more than the fruits of the New Deal, slightly rotten. As a result of massive federal wealth redistribution programs called the GI Bill of Rights \(for non-WASP the Interstate Highway System \(for suburMedicare, and Medicaid \(so the suburbanites wouldn’t have to spend much on their class in the world. Which has, in the last election, mostly gone Republican. Apparently out of resentment at the dangers of further expansion of the middle class. THE SPECTACLE OF THE Democrats caving in to business interests at the first available opportunity is one which, though already old, is destined for even more boring replays. Here’s Labor Secretary Robert Reich, noting in a speech to the conservative Democratic Leadership Council that “corporate welfare” has been identifiedby no more radical an institution than that same DLC, founded to keep liberals out of the Presidency by electing centrists such as Bill Clintonas James McCarty Yeager edits Minority Business Report in Bethesda Maryland. costing some $111 billion that could easily be trimmed from the budget over five years. Funny thing, though, here come Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen and Commerce Secretary Ron Brown saying, no, they’re not much interested in cutting those programs even if the Republicans do want to cut every other program instead. Brown and Bentsen are supposedly Democrats; but, then, Newt Gingrich is supposedly human. Texas is particularly fortunate in that its progressive contingent in Congress survived the debacle in a way that, for instance, Washington State’s did not. Texas still has U.S. Representatives Henry B. Gonzales, John Bryant, Martin Frost, Eddie Bernice Johnson, and Gene Green, and has added longtime stalwart Lloyd Doggett as well as newcomer Sheila Jackson Lee. Of course, Texas also still has retro-Republicans Billy Archer, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey and Jack Fields, and boll-weevil Democrats Charles Stenholm, Ralph Hall and Greg Laughlin. Yup, the worst of the worst still outnumber the best of the best. But at least Texas has something to build on. As the struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party continues, those who would have it be a mildly socially-conscious arm of the Republicans have been damaged at least as much as, if not more than, progressive forces. While the seniority system in Congress brought some minority members to committee chairmanships, it more faithfully rewarded sleepy rural districts whose representatives never heard of an idea after about 1946. Mostly those are the guys stripped of their chairmanships, and thus a great deal of protection for the status quo is suddenly in doubt. The Washington Post is full of stories about how the lobbyists are suddenly reestablishing connections with new committees as the Republicans threaten to change jurisdictional lines around from the way they were under the Democrats. While I appreciate the sight of cash being showered on my representatives with every sign of indecent haste as much as anybody does, I also recognize that changing the committee jurisdictions is far more important in the long run than the Republican takeover. While there is nothing to say that the Democrats, if they ever regain control, will not go back to the way things were, the probabilities are against it. So in the short run the Republicans are doing the work of the Lord in upsetting the committee system, since more reform has been stifled procedurally than was ever defeated on the floor. Now if they’d just abolish seniority en tirely so they wouldn’t have to elect Jesse Helms chairman of Senate Foreign Relations…. Naw. These guys claim they’re some kind of new anti-politicians; but the campaign finance system being what it is, they work for the Fortune 500 and the local banks and utilities, same as always. And a predictable seniority system reassures the politicians’ holders that nothing too drastic is likely going to happen, so it’ll probably survive. THE GIANT KICKING-over of anthills that took place on November 8 will continue throughout Congress over the next two years. Punitive hearings designed to produce sound bites about how bad government regulation is for small business will be held early, incoming House Majority Whip Dick Armey tells us. Noted ethicist Al D’Amato will be inquiring into Whitewater with the Senate Banking Committee. A capital gains tax cut for the rich has even been endorsed by the Treasury, almost as quickly as it was floated by the Republicans. Soon a Republican legislative program of some kind, cobbled together from Reagan leftovers and containing less government for everybody except the poor and more subsidies for the rich, will be available for debate. And there are enough Democratic progressives left to make the case against the Republicans, though it is doubtful whether it will be much reported. Corporate flunkies such as the Secretaries of Commerce and Treasury will try to argue that a Democratic renaissance is contingent on being more pro-business than the Republicans and less progressive than Democratic rhetoric, always better than Democratic practice. This is thus the best time for making the progressive case: Many old intraparty adversaries have been rendered powerless, while the Republican enemy is in full sight, naked and unashamed. Needing to be healed. James McCarty Yeager ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO .JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip 14 DECEMBER 30, 1994
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