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Democrats Commit Suicide:
Harry Reid, Wrong Choice for Senate Minority Leader

by Joshua Frank
November 16, 2004

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The Democrats, obviously still mourning John Kerry’s embarrassing loss to George W. Bush just two weeks prior, have drawn up a new game-plan in hopes that it will help them challenge their purported rivals in elections to come.

Well, it isn’t really a new plan, just a fresh spin on an old failing strategy. The Democrats still believe, even after Kerry’s willful loss, that the only way to beat the neocons is to outflank them to the right. Take on their backward “values” and surpass their fanaticism.

The saga began to unfold following Democratic Senate minority leader Tom Daschle’s horrific defeat to Republican John Thume in the South Dakotan Senate race on November 2. After Daschle’s loss, Democratic National Committee chair, Terry McAuliffe, was on the phone rallying support behind one of his favorite Senators -- Nevada’s own, Harry Reid.

Reid, an admitted friend of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, was being tapped for the position well before Daschle’s defeat, and quickly gained enough support to assure his appointment and upcoming confirmation. A conservative Mormon, Reid, who was born and raised in Nevada, could just as well have ran as a Republican when he chose to do so in 1982.

His positions on trade, abortion, war, civil liberties, and health-care mirror the Republicans almost identically.

In fact, his adversaries adore him for his conservative propensities. Fellow Mormon and right-wing Senator Orrin Hatch, a high-ranking Republican from Utah, says, “We all respect Senator Reid. He is one of the moderate voices around here who tries to get things to work.”

Reid’s politics, like that of George W. Bush, are greatly influenced by his religious philosophy. His opposition to gay-marriage and abortion are certainly prejudiced by his rigid Mormon principles. Reid, a gospel teacher at his local church-ward in Washington DC, will become the highest elected Mormon in US history. And he is sure to make the Latter Day Saints’ community quite proud.

NARAL, a pro-choice advocacy group has awarded Reid a 29% report card. In other words Senator Reid has voted against a woman’s right to choose 71% of the time he has been given the chance. He voted “yes” on banning partial birth abortions as well as “yes” on banning abortions on military bases. He also favors giving personhood to fetuses, as he showed when he voted “yes” on criminalizing the harm done to an unborn fetus during an assault crime.

Reid also has few qualms with expanding and implementing the racist death penalty. He voted in favor of rejecting racial statistics in death penalty appeals, and voted “yes” on limiting the number of appeals allowed for federal death-row inmates. And the list goes on.

So why do the Democrats think Reid is the best man for the job?

"When you look a presidential election where we lost in every age group except one, I think it time to do some reassessment -- and that's one reason why I'm glad Harry is there," Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California told the New York Times on November 14. "I believe very strongly that the voice of the moderates of our caucus ought to have some sway. I have noticed in the past that all the gravitas has slid to the left. All one has to do is look at the map to know that you can't win a presidential election that way."

So the Democrats believe the new face of their leadership in the Senate should be that of an anti-choice, anti-gay religionist. Support for Reid to take over the helm as minority leader is a clear illustration of the Democrats’ inability to offer alternatives. They simply believe that they can only win elections by taking on the Republican “values.”

Even former GOP leader Trent Lott sang his praise for the Senator: “Harry Reid is out there finding a solution. I enjoy working with him very much.”

It is difficult to gage where Read will even wage battle with the Republican majority.  Certainly we can rest assured that the 45 Democrats in the Senate, with Reid as their director, will permit Bush and gang to run rampant with every bit of legislation they desire -- including Supreme Court appointments.

Sadly, the Reid appointment is a sign of the direction the Democrats will continue to shift as they attempt to build momentum for the 2006 congressional elections.

Nevertheless, Democratic capitulation is nothing new.

Commenting on the Democrats’ rightward drift during the Democratic primary race, AL Sharpton complained, "This whole centrist move, which I consider a Right move, hasn't worked politically. Centrists keep saying we can't win without going to the center. Well, they have been in charge of the party since 1992. It's 11 years later and we have lost everything. We lost the House in 1994 with Gingrich, and we failed to regain it in 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2002. How do you lose five Super Bowls and not say there is something wrong with this coach and this game plan? Aside from the fact that I don't believe in what they are saying -- pro-death penalty, pro-business deregulation, pro-NAFTA -- politically it hasn't even worked. They act as though they are outsiders shooting at the inside. They are the insiders. They have control of the party, and they have failed. They have put this party on its deathbed."

May as well start digging the graves now. The Democrats are committing suicide.

Joshua Frank is a contributor to CounterPunch's new election book, A Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, and is author of the forthcoming book, Left Out! How Liberals Did Bush's Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at

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