"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." — Karl Marx
While not in the habit of quoting the father of "scientific socialism," I know a good Marxian quotation when I see one — and boy does it ever apply to the current follies in Washington, D.C. Governing parties in America are always unstable coalitions, which, in the Democrats' case is not surprising, given the racist legacy which is at the core of their being.
There is much talk these days about the Blue Dogs in the Democratic party who have slowed the Obama Administration's rush toward socialized health care. Although the Democrats have solid majorities in both houses of Congress, and therefore theoretically have the votes to pass any bills they wish, approximately 50 Democrat members of the House of Representative are haggling over the cost, the funding and the coverage of so-called Obama Care.
This has not stopped Democrat spokesmen from denouncing Republicans for all the "lies" they've been telling about the estimated trillion dollar program that Obama claims will save the taxpayers money. But if we take a longer historical perspective than the first few months of his administration, we will recall that when the Democrats ruled Congress between New Deal and Great Society days, northern and western liberals shared power with white southern racists.
The only difference is, now the racists are primarily outside the South, and come in both black and white. For years the dream of full equality for former slaves and their descendants was stalled by apartheid south of the Mason-Dixon line, even with the ascendancy of liberal Democrat politics. As long as northern Democrats did not challenge racism and southern Democrats did not oppose Big Government, the party kept its majority.
Civil rights legislation proposed by the Eisenhower Administration was watered down by a Congress dominated by two Texans, Senate majority leader Lyndon Johnson and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn. When Johnson became president he saw the advantages to his party from the 90 percent black vote in metropolitan areas outside the South. His embrace of Civil Rights legislation came at the corrupt price of converting the idea of equality of opportunity to, as Johnson put it, "equality as a fact and equality as a result."
As black columnist Star Parker has so often written, liberal Democrats have switched to black racism and bringing blacks onto what she astutely calls "the government plantation" of perpetual dependency and missing out on full citizenship.
Back in 2006, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer devised a clever scheme in which they ran moderate Democrats in traditionally Republican districts. Their object was to gain a House majority, enabling her to become Speaker and Hoyer to become majority leader. All the candidates had to do was to speak and act like Republicans (pro-life, fiscally conservative, etc.) so that Republicans unhappy with their party would feel comfortable voting for a Democrat.
The strategy worked. But when Barack Obama became president and sent costly and intrusive stimulus, cap and trade, and government health care bills up, the relatively less liberal newcomers began to show signs of independence. Currently, they have prevented passage of any sort of health care bill by the time of the August recess, as planned.
Of course, this independence is tenuous. The House leadership controls the committee assignments and is not above abandoning the Blue Dogs when they run in their party's primaries next year. Thus, it is premature to declare that these worthies will do anything more than delay bad legislation, shave off a few billion dollars here and there, or kill controversial provisions.
Nevertheless, the irony is rich. Whereas in the mid-twentieth century white and black liberals needed white racists to keep control of Congress, how black and white racists need Democrats that look like Republicans to maintain and expand their Big Government plantation that keeps minorities down with what former President Bush called "the soft bigotry of low expectations."
Of course, President Obama does not consider himself a racist, for he means to make members of all races dependent on federal largesse and regulation so that no one gets too far ahead of anyone else.
As long as we "spread the wealth around," as he revealingly said to Joe the Plumber last fall, everyone gets to be on the plantation. There may be some overseers around to keep uppity folks under control, but no one said that commandeering the lives, liberties and properties of 300 million people was going to be easy.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Richard Reeb taught political science, philosophy and journalism at Barstow College from 1970 to 2003. He is the author of " Taking Journalism Seriously: 'Objectivity' as a Partisan Cause" (University Press of America, 1999). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.