The gid­di­ness will pass; while I’ve been feel­ing like it’s 1992 all over again, there are some hard real­i­ties that must be faced now by our newly-​​minted oppo­si­tion con­gress. The ques­tion is whether they’re up to it or not.

We’ve got six years of con­cen­trated evil to over­come, sav­age beat­ings to our nation per­pe­trated by self­ish, greedy, short-​​sighted trai­tors … and a lit­tle under two years in which to do it. The worst thing the Democrats can do right now is try to win a pop­u­lar­ity con­test. That’s what the Republicans were attempt­ing, and real­ity (as it always does) caught up to them.

I’m not a Democrat or a Republican; I’m unaf­fil­i­ated. I can see the mer­its of both par­ties’ core ideals (untouched by dem­a­goguery or reli­gios­ity), which I hope lets me offer some advice to the Dems that will be sure to make them loathed, at least ini­tially, by a vocal and spoiled minority.

I’d sug­gest they ride out the crit­i­cism and do what’s necessary.

The list is very short, and it is con­sis­tent in that it adheres to Republicans’ anath­ema: Reality.

1. We must com­mit more fully to Iraq.

We can’t with­draw pre­cip­i­tously. Eric Shinseki, way the hell back in 2002, pre­dicted that in order for the US to be an occu­py­ing force for peace­keep­ing in Iraq we’d have to com­mit a mas­sive num­ber of troops — about 10 times the num­ber nec­es­sary to invade. For his hon­esty, he was forced out. (By Donald Rumsfeld, who is reap­ing the whirl­wind now.)

The prob­lem is sim­ply that Shinseki was right. We do need to com­mit, heav­ily, to enforce peace in Iraq. Unfortunately, we don’t have the assets at this point. This means either rein­stat­ing a draft; or bud­dy­ing up to nations we have been ignor­ing and ask­ing them to help us, via the UN.

The for­mer option isn’t. We can’t start up a draft. No one can. It’s just not an accept­able alter­na­tive. Conscripting our boys and girls to enjoin an elec­tive war is the height of national hypocrisy.

This means swal­low­ing our Texas cowboy-​​sized pride and ask­ing the United Nations for help. It means putting on our big-​​boy pants and behav­ing as adults for a while.

I know how unlikely that seems as well, but it’s prefer­able to the alternative.

The third option — aban­don­ing Iraq — is inhu­man. We put them where they are. We owe it to them to clean it up. That’s how grown-​​ups behave in the real world.

2. We must raise taxes.

The nation that was handed to Bush in 2000 had a pro­jected sur­plus; in half a decade that has become a crush­ing debt, mostly by Bush suck­ing his cronies off with money.

That’s sim­ply got to change.

We’re hem­or­rhag­ing money, most of it in the name of war upkeep costs. Dems may be tarred as “tax and spend” — but the Repubs are basi­cally bor­row and spend. Which is the more sen­si­ble approach? Which is the more sus­tain­able approach?

Reality must be rec­og­nized. Until it is, our national down­ward spi­ral will con­tinue until it bot­toms out on its own. That would be catastrophic.

We lit­er­ally can­not afford to con­tinue the spend­thriftery. And iron­i­cally it will be the Democrats who have to force fis­cal respon­si­b­lity on the Republicans.

3. We must impeach Bush.

While this might look unwise — the way the Repubs dogged Clinton for years did result in a back­lash — the fact is almost cer­tain that Bush and his cadre have engaged in ille­gal activ­ity. (Unlike Clinton, who was not break­ing laws on a more or less daily basis.)

It would not be polit­i­cal sui­cide for the Dems to expose and pros­e­cute crimes com­mit­ted by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield or Rice; it is their duty as Americans. And when the American peo­ple are shown how badly they have been duped by Bush, most of them will demand prosecution.

Impeachment in this case is not a revenge tac­tic. It’s sim­ple cause and effect, another man­i­fes­ta­tion of real­ity. Commit a crime, get punished.

To this add sundry nuances such as bet­ter social sup­port and pro­tec­tions; improved care for seniors and war vet­er­ans; bet­ter edu­ca­tion and the usual lot of things that, for some rea­son, the Republicans never seem to care about but that always score high on most people’s com­pas­sion meters, and you have a gen­uine recipe for turn­ing the nation around.

Let it be busi­ness as usual, though … and that’s pre­cisely what we’ll have.

Until real­ity destroys us.

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