A long time ago, I heard a story about a BMW that was on sale for $500. When asked about the reason for the low price, the seller explained that she was getting divorced and the judge had ordered the car to be sold and the money be given to her husband, so she did not want much for the car.
I never learned whether the story was true but it is a good metaphor to explain what happens with the Democrats. We tend to think that they are compromisers, wimps and spineless. Believe me, I enjoy calling them names too, but we would deceive ourselves not to see the underlying issue.
Democrats are not any more spineless for giving up liberal values than the woman in the story was a fool for selling the car too cheap. Democrats insist on selling liberal principles way below Blue Book value because, like the woman of the story, the car is not theirs.
Progressives are fooled because they fail to notice that liberal values are only a campaign posture for the Democrats and not true convictions. When they trade them easily they are not making sacrifices, they are just following their own agenda. It is we who make the sacrifice.
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For instance, many people were outraged at how quickly the Democrats gave up the public option in the health care debate. The thing to notice is that the Democrats in congress receive superb quality health care paid for by the government. What they gave up without a fight was our public option. They protected the interests of insurance companies that pay for their campaigns, not the interests of their constituency.
People on the left were surprised to see President Barack Obama remove the ban on off-shore drilling. They said he had compromised too much too quickly. What they failed to see is that Obama received more than $100 million in campaign contributions from oil lobbies. So, he was simply returning the favor, or perhaps he was clearing up his line of credit for the next campaign.
Last but not least, people were angry to see the Democrats extend tax cuts for millionaires and viewed it as a sacrifice to negotiate with the Republicans.
But remember: many Democrats in Congress are millionaires. It is not a sacrifice when they are putting money in their pockets. What they sacrificed were our social safety net, our teachers, and firefighters that we can no longer afford.
Democratic pundits are quick to point fingers at the Republicans, who are blamed for all the incompetence of Congress since Obama took office. And believe me, I enjoy a good round of fun Republican bashing as much as the next guy, but in this case the fault is not the Republicans'.
The GOP was reduced to total insignificance after the 2008 election. The Democrats got the White House, both chambers of Congress and, what is most important, a very powerful mandate from the American people.
While it is true that the Republicans intended to block every vote that came to the floor, it is no less true that the Democrats let it happen.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid never made Republicans filibuster. He always gave up after the threat. This kind of commitment would have left the U.S. a segregated country. Democrats forced the Republicans to filibuster before voting to make the Civil Rights Act the law.
When a senator threatened to filibuster the only bill that Reid seemed to really want to pass, the senator was allowed to talk for more than eight hours until he relinquished.
Then the Senate voted and passed the bill into law with most Democrats supporting it. It was the extension of tax cuts for millionaires that Vermont independent Bernie Sanders filibustered, to no avail.
Now that Obama desperately tries to hang on to his job, it would be good to remember that democracy relies on the politicians being accountable for their actions.
It would be a sad day for democracy if politicians who have betrayed their constituency, as Obama and the Democrats have, would suffer no political consequences in 2012.