Saturday, May 21, 2005

John Kerry shows he can get it right when he tries.

Sen. Kerry gave an eloquent speech in defense on minority rights on Thursday, describing the dangers we face.
The real interests of Americans are served by remembering that the greatest strength and virtue of our democracy is the protection it provides to the minority. That’s what’s special about America. That’s what make’s us different. That’s what makes our democracy so respected and even awesome to people all around the world.

So, this is a dangerous time for our democracy. What’s at stake here is something far greater than the confirmation of these judges. No matter how much time is spent on the life story of Priscilla Owen, we all know it’s nothing more than a smoke screen for what this is really about. It’s not about these few judges. We could have confirmed four judges this morning, but Republican leadership is determined to deny the minority the right to hold the executive accountable for lifetime appointments to the judiciary. It’s about George Bush and Karl Rove and the Republican leadership and their quest for absolute power over the Supreme Court and this Congress. It’s about the gratification of immediate ideological goals and the pursuit of power regardless of the long-term consequences for the Senate – Congress – or our Constitution.
And the tactics used.
So now we find ourselves in a struggle between a great political tradition in the United States that seeks common ground so we can do the common good – and a new ethic that, on any given issue, will use any means to justify the end of absolute victory over whatever and whoever stands in the way.

The new view says if you don’t like the facts, just change them; if you can’t win playing by the rules, just rewrite them. The new view says if you can’t win a debate on the strength of your argument, demonize your opponents. The new view says it’s ok to ignore the overwhelming public interest as long as you can get away with it.

And this time the Republican leadership has gone farthest of all to get away with it, hoping to convince Americans that by breaking the Senate rules they are acting to defend the Constitution, honor the words of our Founding Fathers, and avert a judicial crisis.

But we all know this debate is fueled by ideology, not by defense of democratic principle or some shortage of judges on the bench. The facts have been repeated clearly again and again, and are repeatedly brushed aside and ignored. But with over 95% of the judges already approved, we all know this is nothing more than a power grab by an Administration bent on controlling every aspect of our government, even if that means weakening it.
And what is at stake.
What is threatened is a delicately balanced system that for 214 years successfully prevented the Executive from usurping power granted in good faith by the American people. And that threat manifests itself in a nuclear option that threatens the character of this Senate. The integrity of this Senate is threatened when the majority attempts to change the rules by breaking the rules. The balance of power is threatened when the power of advice and consent is gutted. Our democracy is threatened when we set the dangerous precedent that minority rights can be silenced whenever they inconvenience the majority. And I believe that our courts and the justice they are meant to deliver are threatened by some of the judges President Bush has nominated.
Read the whole speech here.


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