Soapbox: John Kerry is right about something

Today, former Presidential candidate and still sitting Massachusetts Senator John Kerry loudly proclaimed that “America doesn’t need ‘a second Republican Party'”. He’s absolutely right: There is already a majority party in the country and the role of the Loyal Opposition is not to echo what those in power say. America needs an opposition party that offers different ideas and solutions to the contry’s problems than what the majority party does. That way, the voters can pick and choose what ideas are best for the country as a whole.

Kerry should have taken his own advice a year ago. As it was, his entire campaign for President consisted of him trying to say “Me, too, but more/less/better” to every issue position that the President was able to announce. When your choice is between the GOP and purported liberals masquerading as low-carb Republicans, you may as well go with the real thing.

What the Democrats (as a group) need is threefold: focused core principles, implementable ideas, and ethics. The national Democratic party has proven sadly deficient in all three and it is a measure of voter dissatisfaction with the Republicans, not enthusiasm for Democratic “ideas,” that the Democrats did even as well as they did last time around. Republicans know what they stand for — their vision is not something I particularly believe in, for the most part, but there’s a clear vision there and some certainty about what Republicans in government are going to do.

The last Republican to really argue forcefully for the power of liberty and freedom to make society great was Jack Kemp (before he sold out his beliefs to become Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996). Since then, no one has bothered to pick up that battlefield standard in any meaningful way. Libertarian-leaning Republicans like myself are becoming very dissatisfied with the status quo and being taken for granted by the rest of the party. We are actively searching for a meaningful repository for our political loyalty.

So hey, Democrats, let me spell this out for you: YOU HAVE A GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY HERE. You’ve got to somehow shed your dysfunctional mental marriage to big-government ideas the same way a battered wife needs to move out of her home. The slogans are right there: “This is still a free country, damnit, and we’re going to keep it that way!” “Freedom and security: It’s not one or the other.” “The government doesn’t belong in your bedroom or in your wallet.” It’s box-office gold, I’m telling you.

But it’s not going to happen. I’ve seen preciesely zero evidence that the Democrats calling the shots on Capitol Hill really even understand what liberty is anymore — no more than do their Republican colleagues in the legislature, or the craven operatives on Pennsylvania Avenue. They care about winning at any cost and, like Robert Redford’s prophetic and dismal Candidate, they haven’t a clue what they should do in the unlikely event that they actually get themselves elected to something.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.