Democrats should stop their pandering

By on October 5, 2005

Republicans should be thankful that 2005 is not an election year. There has been a never-ending amount of bad news for Republicans this year, most recently with the indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay on charges of illegally funneling corporate campaign contributions to Texas state legislature races.

While Republicans have a lot to be worried about, things are not all grim. Midterm elections aren’t for more than a year and voters are fickle. A lot will happen between now and the midterm elections, and the results will depend as much upon what Democrats do until then as well as what Republicans do. So far, the Democratic Party does not seem ready to assume leadership.

The John Roberts vote is a good example of where the Democratic Party is. The vote split Democrats in half, 22 voting for confirmation and 22 against. Roberts is the best nominee Democrats could ask for from President Bush, yet half of them decided to “send the President a message.” Unfortunately, the message they sent was that it doesn’t matter how qualified a nominee is, any nominee that does not fit their exact mold for a Supreme Court Justice will not be acceptable.

In probably the most perplexing rationale for voting against the Roberts confirmation, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California had this to say:

“There is no question that Judge Roberts is an extraordinary person. I think there is no question that he has many stellar qualities, certainly a brilliant legal mind and a love and abiding respect for the law, and I think a sense of its scope and complexity as well.”

But then Senator Feinstein continued by complaining that Roberts wouldn’t take a position on controversial social issues. She also felt he was “dispassionate” and “detached,” and would not talk to her like “a son, a husband, and a father” when handling right-to-die decisions.

This is a lawmaker who does not seem to understand the role of a judge. Although it is important for a judge to understand individual circumstances, the ultimate job of a judge is to be dispassionate. A judge is supposed to put aside their own personal beliefs and apply the law.

Even if Roberts was not the most ideal nominee for many Democrats, some deference has to be shown for a President who picked a reasonable nominee. For example, both of Bill Clinton’s nominees, Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsberg, received unanimous approval from the judiciary committee and were confirmed overwhelmingly, 87-9 and 96-3, respectively. Roberts seems to be no more conservative than Ginsberg or Breyer are liberal.

The Democratic Party can go one of two ways. One group of Democrats feels they need to fight back harder against Republicans who have won elections due to better campaigning. Another group feels that Democrats need to work towards creating better ideas. If the latter group wins out, it will be better for Democrats and better for America. The choice is between coming up with a constructive agenda for America or pandering to liberal interest groups by voting against a qualified nominee like Roberts.

Unfortunately, pandering to interest groups can be the more tempting route to take. Many senators have presidential aspirations and are looking at primary voters which can reward candidates who move to the left.

This isn’t a time to suck up to narrow-minded interest groups. Democrats have an opportunity to capitalize where Republicans are faltering. The way to do this is to come up with serious solutions for serious issues like gaining energy independence or closing the budget deficit. If Democrats decide to rely on the failure of Republicans for their success, they will continue to be a minority party.


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