By Sean Kosofsky
Ding Dong, the witch is dead.
Tom “The Hammer” Delay has decided to resign from Congress and not run for re-election, essentially ending his long and powerful career. It turns out the defiant DeLay got too cocky, too close to lobbyists and too corrupt, even for his solidly Republican district in Texas.
You have to hand it to Republicans. Their strategy is incredible. They were willing to sell their majority leader down the river in order to “clean up” Washington. The man that helped unconstitutionally gerrymander Texas to pick up more Republican seats while building one of the most powerful war chests in D.C. had to go. Despite all he did to grow the party, it was pretty clear that he was a liability to his district, his state, the party and control of Congress. DeLay has been destroyed by his own arrogance.
Why does this matter to GLBT people? Why should we care about one right-wing Republican in Texas? For the same reason we should care about Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania, Jeb Bush in Florida and Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. The infrastructure of the right-wing minority in this country cannot hold together forever. When a tiny group of rich extremists can exert this much control over America, the only thing they have is powerful friends. When one of them implodes it is a huge victory for our movement. Nearly no one on Capitol Hill will be able to replace Tom Delay in the next few years, and no one should want to.
DeLay’s collapse is a victory for democracy, a victory for representative government, for accountability, for fairness and for the GLBT community. The corruption in Congress has hit the worst fever pitch ever. No-bid contracts to Cheney’s former company Haliburton, indictments of “Scooter” Libby and Tom DeLay, Bush packing the courts with right wing activists, pay to play politics, buying off reporters to run good stories about No Child Left Behind and the war – and there are countless other examples of how this Congress has lost its moral compass.
In Michigan the Democrats are only a few seats away from taking back the state House of Representatives and state Senate. And although Democratic turnout in non-presidential years tends to be lower, the corruption in the nation’s capitol could trickle down to local elections and give Democrats a boost this year. GLBT people and progressives all over the country can smell change in the air and hope moderate voters feel the same. If so, the political landscape could look dramatically different next year. Political experts even predict that midterm elections for a President in their second term tend to work against the sitting president.
It has also recently come out that President Bush approved the White House leak that “outed” Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative. Bush appears to have threatened our own national security just to punish Plame and her husband for not walking the White House line about Iraq’s alleged pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. The ACLU has also uncovered that the secret wiretapping approved by Bush was targeting political enemies of the president – anti-war activists who were non-violent and had no ties to Al Qaeda. Bush also fast-tracked a Dubai company to take over some of our most insecure ports. The man and the party that claim to be strong on defense and “freedom” have been exposed as working to dismantle both. Bush’s sloppiness, arrogance and extremist policies may also hurt his own party’s election efforts this fall.
The DeLay development will send shockwaves through the political establishment for years to come. Republicans are embarrassed again. They lost Nixon to a threat of impeachment, Congressmen Bob Livingston and Bob Packwood left Congress years ago due to sex scandals and now Congressman Peter Cunningham in California is in major legal and political strife. All Republicans, all scandals and all part of the culture of corruption.
Can Democrats weave this together and tell a story about the alleged “morals party” having no morals at all? It has yet to be seen that Democrats will have much spine at all in going on the attack. We have the ammunition but they have not had the courage since September 11th and it is hurting America. We need more gay voices demanding this leadership, or the 2006 elections will mean nothing.