Jay Ambrose: Are Democrats any better?

OK, fine, go ahead and throw the bums out in two weeks. Send Republicans scurrying as you put Democrats in control of the Senate and House, but don’t then expect balanced budgets, an improved economy, more concern for the poor, greater security from terrorists or greater respect and care for precious rights the left has been trying to subvert for decades now.

There’s no doubt about one thing, and that’s the fact that the GOP has brought much of its misery on itself since gaining control of Congress. This was supposed to be the party of limited government and fiscal restraint, but when these ladies and gentlemen were put in charge, they charged ahead as if no dollar should be left unspent in the pursuit of their own interests.

They spent wildly, almost fanatically on pork projects and then found still other projects the country could not afford, such as a Medicare prescription drug program. Meanwhile, a few of their number were either caught or said to be playing illegal footsie with lobbyists at the same time the war inIraq was going badly, the administration was accused of spying on Americans and books were being written about presidential incompetence.

So the Democrats, if returned to power, are going to spend less? Of course not. They have never even pretended as much. They are always yelping for higher expenditures, not lower, making it sound as if it is the call of conscience that shapes their pleas when it’s actually the conviction that you get votes in return for federal giveaways.

In part, they are likely sincere. They really don’t seem to get it that this administration has actually upped spending on poverty programs, that lax immigration policy increases poverty and unwed motherhood solidifies it, that the Bush tax cuts have been a boon to the middle class or that the free market is the best gift humankind’s material needs have ever known. They won’t go along with keeping tax cuts in place — and all of us will pay.

It’s true that the situation in Iraq has gone from bad to absolutely deplorable, but the worst possible response would be the sort of unqualified U.S. evacuation encouraged by many Democrats — it could very well lead to genocide and would be a major defeat in the war against terrorism, whereas a stabilized, self-governing Iraq would be a major defeat for the terrorists. Rethinking strategy and the employment of new tactics are needed, but not a retreat that could well upset the extraordinary record of no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11.

It’s true, too, that the administration should have arranged for court review of its spying on communications between terrorists and residents of America, but it is sheer buffoonery to assert that this or its other shortcomings constitute an all-out assault on our crucial freedoms. Far worse infringements have been perpetrated by a Supreme Court that as recently as June of last year ruled that it was OK for local governments to take private property to give to other private interests in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Let the Democrats rule the Senate, and forget the possibility that, in the event of a vacancy, Bush will be able to get yet another person on the court as deeply respectful of the Constitution as Samuel Alito and John Roberts.

Yes, many of the criticisms against the congressional Republicans and Bush are legitimate, but many range from the grossly exaggerated to the highly dubious, and there is this to keep in mind: The Democrats, by and large, are far worse.

Examiner columnist Jay Ambrose is a former editor of two daily newspapers. He may be reached at SpeaktoJay@aol.comGeneral OpinionOpinion

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