Civility doesn't require surrender

Posted: Dec 16, 2000 12:00 AM
Lest what I'm about to say be misunderstood, let me begin by saying that I very much appreciate the substance and tone of Al Gore's concession speech. Even though it took him 36 days, and he finally had no other choice, I am still happy that he chose to be gracious. The speech, however, regardless of how eloquent and conciliatory, was just a speech. We must not allow it to obscure the reality that Bush most likely will face some rough times in the months ahead. Why? It's just an unsophisticated hunch, but I'm betting that the media and Democrats will be in lockstep resisting any efforts of Bush to implement his agenda. "What's wrong with that?" you ask. Not a thing. Congressional Democrats have every right to resist Bush's programs within the confines of the law and the Constitution. They were elected to their seats, too. So does the media -- though it would be refreshing if they'd admit that they were doing it. In fact, Republicans made a valiant effort to thwart Bill Clinton's 1993 income tax increase -- so valiant that it took Al Gore to cast the tie-breaking vote. As the minority party, they also thwarted Hillary Clinton's plan to nationalize health care -- God bless them. Vigorous opposition is fair play in the game of politics. I don't even blame Democrats for trying to con George Bush and other Republicans into unilaterally surrendering their agenda. Democrats have become quite shrewd at political gamesmanship and public persuasion. I just hope that Republicans don't get suckered into this phony talk of appeasement. As my brother Rush said on his radio program, we don't hear anyone in the media or any Democrats suggesting that Democrats should throw an olive branch to Republicans or compromise their policy positions. Democrats were not advocating conciliation when Al Gore launched his post-election ambush on George Bush and the integrity of the American electoral system. They didn't make any overtures toward rapprochement saying, "the election was close, and we lost, so we ought to just try to get along." No, they fought bitterly with the intention of reversing the Florida and national election results and implementing Al Gore's agenda without dilution or compromise. Let's not confuse terms or concepts here. It is important in these contentious times that we communicate clearly. Of course we should be civil to each other. By all means Republicans and Democrats should treat each other with respect. But neither party should abandon its agenda merely because we had a close presidential election. And Republicans definitely shouldn't reward Al Gore's destructive election contests with an abandonment of their principles. What kind of deterrent would that set for future post-election mischief? Do any of you really believe that the Democrats and their media brethren are primarily interested in collegiality here, as opposed to imposing the Democratic agenda, despite having lost the election? Call me cynical if you choose, but we'll know soon enough. When Bush unveils his promised tax plan and Social Security reform package we'll see if the Democrats are conciliatory. We'll see if they then practice what they are now preaching. We'll see if they refrain from divisive class warfare and race-baiting rhetoric. And when they all but accuse Republicans of having contempt for the poor and African Americans, we'll see if the media decries such language for the destructive diatribe that it is. I'm sorry to say this, but I sincerely believe that to the Democratic leadership getting along means Republican surrender. I don't expect Democrats to surrender, but I cannot countenance them characterizing Republicans as bellicose just because they insist on advancing their agenda. It reminds me of the days barely a generation ago when Soviet Communists defined imperialists as any nation that resisted the inevitable global expansion of Communism. No, I'm not calling Democrats Communists. But I am urging Republicans to cling fast to the English language, and to not let themselves be intimidated into forfeiting their agenda without firing a shot. We must remember that we are in a struggle for the future direction of this nation and whether it will adhere to its constitutional moorings and longings for liberty. This is an epic struggle, and Republicans are obliged not to abandon it -- even if George Bush won by the narrowest of margins.