The political left in America is showing some signs of life, with rallies dwarfing anything the allegedly grassroots Tea Party has been able to muster. Democrats are finally on the march. President Obama has begun speaking out more forcefully. And these signs of life encompass not only demonstrations of outrage, but evidence that the left can and will go on the attack.
It’s about time.
I have two examples for you today that should bring smiles and maybe earn a well-deserved fist-pump.
In the first, Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY) addressed a crowd of over 2000 construction union leaders and members at the Building and Construction Trades Department (AFL-CIO) Legislative Conference on Tuesday, April 5th in Washington, DC.
Weiner spoke forcefully about going on the offensive, about avoiding being on the defensive. The history of warfare has shown how important it is to have the initiative. It is not something to be ignored or squandered. Typically, any time a liberal has spoken out they have been immediately eviscerated by “outraged” conservatives with the inevitable result that the liberal apologizes for speaking the truth.
This has to stop. Listen to Rep. Weiner:
In the second, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) last Wednesday held a branding party on the Capitol steps. He used a selection of red-hot branding irons to burn the word “VETO” on Tea Party bills in front of a cheering crowd. These bills were attacks on such sensible things as clean energy standards, healthcare, women’s reproductive rights, and sex ed, among others. Some of them were bills overturning the vocal will of the people of Montana, including the increased use of cyanide in gold mining, a plan already rejected by Montana voters.
Courtesy of the Missoula County Democrats we get the list of bills branded by Gov. Schweitzer:
- SB 114: Which initially would have put sheriffs in charge of federal law enforcement officers, but now had been amended to where it was pointless and would do nothing but clutter our law books. Since it was a frivolous bill, the Governor gave it a “calf” brand.
- HB 318: Would put county commissioners in charge of bison management, rather than the experts at Fish Wildlife and Park who currently oversee bison. The Governor gave thisbill a “calf” brand, because, as he said, “It’s a dumb idea.”
- SB 109: Would kill jobs in the state and roll back our progress towards renewable energy by watering down the Renewable Energy Standard. The Governor said he would have given this bill a “bull” brand, but it ended up with a “yearling” brand because, as he put it, “It really is on the silly side.”
- HB 272: Would make it more difficult for the public to acquire land for hunting, fishing and recreating. This is “yearling” bill, according to the Governor and was branded as such.
- SB 159: Would make it harder for homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. The Governor gave it a “yearling” brand.
- HB 180: Would eliminate election day voter registration. The Governor gave Champ Edmunds’ bill a “bull” brand after pointing out the absurdity of limiting the number of Montanans to vote.
- SB 306: Would overturn two voter approved laws that restricted cyanide leach open-pit mining and thus would severely damage our rivers, lakes and streams. The Governor gave it a big ol’ brand since Montanans have voted twice against the measure included in the bill.
But the Tea Party isn’t interested in the will of the people; it is only interested in the will of the corporations, and in protecting not the rights of voters, but the rights of corporations to profit from voters.
“These bills are either frivolous, unconstitutional or in direct contradiction to the expressed will of the people of Montana,” Schweitzer said. Watch him go into action:
The Republicans, as usual, are outraged. They probably expect Gov. Schweitzer to apologize and back down. That’s what Democrats do, after all. Republicans control the Montana House with a 68-32 majority, meaning they can override the governor’s veto, but they have only a 28-22 margin in the Senate which means they cannot ride roughshod over the will of the people of Montana. The governor has the reins (and a branding iron) and he doesn’t seem likely to back down.
In this session so far, brand-wielding Schweitzer has vetoed 21 bills. After the branding party, he vetoed others in the traditional way from his desk (HB 456, HB 464, SB 111, SB 228, SB 324, SB 370, SB 324, SB 370, SB 254, HB 161, SB 183 and HB 542).
We need more, not less of this sort of thing. We liberals have for too long acted as sheep, and we cannot afford to do that anymore. We can no longer afford to be tolerant of intolerance. We must stand up and be heard; we must express our disapproval, we must harness our outrage, and we must go on the attack and denounce the forces of hate and intolerance for what they are. It is the only way we will save the Constitution and save our country from the forces of plutocrats and theocrats.