104th Congress, Bill Clinton, conflict, conservatism, conservative, Contract With America, Democrat, Democrats, Donald Trump, Fox News, Hillary Clinton, Newt Gingrich, President Barack Obama, Ronald Reagan, Senator John McCain
The decline of the United States of America under the conservative boot has occurred for almost 40 years. Unfortunately, during those few times when the Democratic party has managed to wrench back power for brief periods, timid Democrats have failed to move boldly. The result is that now Democrats are seen as weak and ineffective in power, giving conservatives the opportunity to quickly regain a majority.
Conservatives History of Economic Disaster
The United States was driven into the 1930’s Great Depression by a Republican party that had changed direction after the Civil War. Prior to the Civil War, Lincoln’s Republican party had championed the end to slavery. After the Civil War, the party, centered in the northeastern industrial States focused on using the government to promote business interests at any cost.
Prior to the Great Depression, business and the stock market ran amok with no government safeguards to protect individual citizens. In the months leading up to the October 1929 crash, the stock markets ramped up into a delirium of expansion when world markets were collapsing.
The Great Depression demonstrated that government regulation and protections were necessary for a healthy economy. The conservative’s economy based on greed resulted in temporary gains resulting in massive collapses of the world economy. By 1933, a decade of Republican control of the government ended with the loss of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the office of the President.
The Golden Age of the United States
With the exception of four years, (1947 to 1949 and 1953 to 1955,) Democrats controlled Congress from 1933 to 1981. During this period the United States recovered from the Great Depression, developed into a major world power, became a major force in winning World War II, and created a technologically superior economy that landed humans on the Moon in only ten years.
Under Democratic control, individuals and corporations were protected by a government that balanced profit with societal obligations. It was our Golden Age.
End of Government For the People
In the late 1970s, inflation, the retreat from further space exploration, and rising terrorism in the Arab world combined to create an opportunity for conservatives to sow dissatisfaction in the country. The 444-day hostage crisis in Iran during the Presidential election weakened President Jimmy Carter and opened the door for Republicans to take control of our country.
Ronald Reagan began a dynasty of conservative control of the government of the United States of America. He was bolstered by a friendly Republican-led Senate and a timid Democratic-led House that provided minimal resistance to conservative reforms.
Prior to his election in 1981, this former ‘B’ movie actor-turned, rightwing conservative-turned, FBI informant-turned-politician, had declared to enact conservative initiatives aimed to dismantle the government and replace it with a Wild West-style society where ethics were secondary to profit.
Reagan used a ploy of patriotism and tax breaks to mask the true nature of his plan to dismantle protections of individuals and move power from government to the corporations and the wealthy. His tax plan gave small tax breaks to the middle class, which were later rescinded and even increased; however, the wealthy enjoyed the top rate bracket being slashed from 70% down to 50%, followed by an additional cut down to 38.5%.
The result was to shift the tax burden on to the middle class and cut federal government revenues drastically. Changes in the tax structure and government protections was an abrupt 180° change in course for the nation. It ended a government for the people and replaced it with a government for corporations and the wealthy.
The Rise of Republican Bullies and Timid Democrats
House Democrats adopted a position of acquiescence to Reagan, possibly under the belief that the popularism that brought Reagan into power would falter after his policies led to economic failure. If so, it worked to some degree. Republicans lost control of the Senate in 1987, and in 1993, Bill Clinton became President.
For a brief moment, it seemed that the United States might return to the Golden Age. Clinton used Democratic control of the government to reverse several conservative policies put into place by Reagan and President George Bush (41st.) In his first term, Clinton pushed forward the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, cut taxes on the poorest citizens and raised taxes on the wealthiest, began work on a Universal Health Plan, passed gun reform legislation known as the Brady Bill, enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement, and passed the Omnibus Crime Bill, that included a ten-year ban on assault weapons.
At the same time, conservatives began a relentless campaign of attacks on the President and Hillary Clinton including smear campaigns regarding his time as Governor of Arkansas. These efforts were unprecedented in our country’s history. Arkansas State Troopers with ‘slimy motives’ claimed they had arranged private engagements with then-Governor Clinton and other women. The Clintons were accused of abuse of power in what became known as the Whitewater controversy.
In 1994, the Democrats lost control of both houses of Congress for the first time in forty years. Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, ran on a united plan known as the Contract With America that put forward a mix of popular ideas (require Congress to abide by any new law, term limits, etc.) and proposals to dismantle government protections (deregulations, reducing government, etc.) In large part, the Contract With America was ineffective. Some issues were defeated, some were vetoed by President Clinton, and some were ignored. At least one item was enacted but was later ruled unconstitutional.
However, Republican control of Congress began a resurgence of conservative power that effectively beat Clinton into submission. Clinton did win a second term but even before the election he signaled his surrender to conservatism. During his 1996 State of the Union address, he announced that the “…era of Big Government is over.”
The era of the Timid Democrat had begun.
In 2000, Republicans completed their coup of the government by retaining both houses of Congress and winning the Presidency. George W. Bush (43rd) was elected when the Supreme Court interceded in vote recounts that gave a micro margin lead to Bush over Vice President Al Gore. Bush was elected by the smallest number of popular votes in over 100 years and a subsequent State-wide recount indicated that Gore actually won.
Without a majority in Congress and a Republican President, Democrats essentially gave up. It would be six years until Democrats would win back Congress and that was only possible after Republicans had mismanaged the economy into a near second Great Depression.
In 2007, the United States began a Recession that nearly destroyed the country. The cause of the financial crisis was unethical practices by the banking industry that placed greed over common sense. The lack of government regulation, forced by conservatives, resulted in massive packaged loans that were laced with bad debt. When the investors realized the depth of the deception, the value of the investments went into freefall.
The crisis led to the restoration of the Democrats to power. In 2008, Barack Obama, the first African American President, won over Senator John McCain. Focused on restoring the economy, Democrats, led by Obama, took bold actions that were chastised by rightwing conservatives and their media feeds, including Fox News. The action taken by the Democrats saved the country, but rightwing media worked diligently to underplay the role of liberals in restoring the economy.
Obama’s election was heralded as the great change to reverse the destruction of government. Democrats united to push for a massive new healthcare system during Obama’s first term. Unfortunately, saving the economy and implementing a new, heavily compromised healthcare plan would be the highlights of the first two years of Democratic control of the government.
In 2010, Democrats lost the House and in 2014, they lost the Senate. Republicans adopted a strict ‘no-cooperation’ with President Obama and effectively stopped any effort to restore the country to a government for the people. The President did attempt to use his authority to effect change through executive action; however, the rightwing media severely criticized him for adopting any non-conservative approved policy.
By 2016, Democrats had completely settled into acquiescence and even Hillary Clinton adopted a conciliatory platform when she led the Democratic ticket for President. Clinton was blindsided by Donald Trump, who used his conman skills to consolidate the vote of the uneducated, religious Evangelicals, and racists. The results of the election left Democrats devastated. The party leadership had no response to a person who had no ethics, played by no rules, and was supported by people who were blind to his behavior and actions.
The current situation in the Democratic party reflects a continuation of the mistakes of the past 40 years. Former Vice President Joe Biden is a symbol of the Timid Democrats. His positions are to continue subservience to conservatives under the mask of a Democrat. His campaign is based solely on defeating Trump by moving farther right to collect more conservative moderates.
The party has a long list of candidates who are trying to carve out the moderate vote while ignoring the need to reverse the course. Only Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren seem to understand that the actions of conservatives are the problem.
Unfortunately, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klochubar dropping out, the moderate vote will now be more consolidated for Biden. In addition, Billionaire Mike Bloomberg is apparently setting himself up for an independent run for President. The long-standing moderate Republican suddenly declared himself as a Democrat in 2018, followed by a delayed entrance into the race for President. His late run virtually guarantees that he cannot win the nomination; however, he likely will lure Democrats to vote for him as an independent.
It may end up that people will have a choice of Biden or Bloomberg to oppose Trump. Both of them will be champions of continuing conservative ideals, and that will mean the era of the Timid Democrat is to live on.