Politics & Policy

If Republicans Were Democrats

Different kinds of losers.

I suppose you’ve heard about the results of last week’s voting. No, I don’t mention Joey Lawrence getting voted off Dancing with the Stars — I’m talking about the midterm elections. And while Democrats would seem to have a lot to be thankful for, what exactly does the country have to be thankful for? I mean, besides the apparent end of John Kerry career in stand-up comedy? I would argue that the country should be grateful that Republicans aren’t Democrats. Because if Republicans acted more like Democrats, the post-election period would be proceeding somewhat differently.

For example, if Republicans were Democrats, a lot of them would be threatening to move to Canada right now. None of them would do it, of course — they might be Democrats, but they wouldn’t be insane. Well, not all of them. You know, technically. I mean, move to Canada? To paraphrase Charlie Rangel, who the hell would want to live there? Even Democrat-like Republicans (I know this gets confusing) would recognize the folly of living in a cold, boring country where so much of the current Democratic agenda has already been enacted (confiscatory taxes, socialized medicine, drug decriminalization, uh…Alanis Morrisette). Sure, my imaginary, sore-loser Republicans would be making some noise about jumping ship like the fair weather patriots they would be, but it would be all talk.

Instead, if Republicans were Democrats they’d be screaming from the rooftops that last week’s elections were clearly, obviously stolen. The really clever ones would be showing off their ability to recognize rhyming words by claiming that their betters had been “selected, not elected.” Ha, ha — get it? On a more serious note, they’d insist that conservative voters must have been intimidated into staying home by…well, by somebody, by golly. Probably some special-interest group with the word “Big” in their name, like “Big Oil,” “Big Steel,” or “Big Racial Set-Asides.” If Republicans were Democrats some of them would be blaming those same voters, charging that the lazy, stupid masses had just screwed everything up for the smart people. Somewhere, a Democrat-like Republican would have just started writing a book, entitled, “What’s The Matter With The Upper West Side?,” about how low-brow, ignorant Americans had inexplicably voted against their self-interests once again because, let’s face it, most Americans are just plain dumb.

If Republicans were Democrats the next thing they’d do would be to demand the abolishment of any voting system that involved advanced registration, government-issue photo IDs, machinery of any kind, electricity, or paper, perhaps in favor of a nationwide show of hands. Not only that, they’d also demand that anyone who ever worked in any capacity for any company that manufactured voting machines be stripped of their U.S. citizenship and immediately deported to…oh, I don’t know…Canada?

If Republicans were Democrats they’d have their version of a Terry McAuliffe — I’m drawing a blank as to who the Republican version of that braying, soulless lickspittle would be — explaining how last week’s setback was actually a great Republican victory for which he deserved considerable credit. Then, of course, they’d fire the guy. If Republicans were Democrats they would then take the one person who personified why they lost the last election and make him the chairman of their party, like Democrats did with Howard Dean. The Democrat-like Republican version of such a pas de deaux would be to replace Ken Mehlman with Jack Abramoff, who for all his faults would probably be a more effective fundraiser than Howard Dean has proven to be so far.

If Republicans were Democrats they’d next strike a blow for civility by refusing to acknowledge their opponents’ victory. They’d call Speaker Pelosi “Nancy,” and Majority Leader Reid “Harry.” Yeah, that’d show ‘em, all right. If Republicans were Democrats they’d point out that the major media were against them — and they’d be right. But in this case the story would be widely reported and treated as a credible charge, since if Republicans were Democrats roughly 90 percent of the working press would be registered, Democrat-like Republicans. If Republicans were Democrats they’d also demand broad new restrictions on free speech by media outlets that openly campaigned against them — whether effectively, like National Public Radio and Michael J. Fox, or not, like Air America Radio and Barbra Streisand’s current tour. If Republicans were Democrats they’d also be appearing on every cable TV around the clock claiming that the old-fashioned ass-whupping they got last week was merely the result of not getting their message out — despite the fact that after months of saturation coverage every man, woman and child in America can recite their losing message practically word-for-word. The “we didn’t get our message out” mantra would be repeated to the point where it, too had been unwittingly committed to memory by everyone in the continental U.S. within earshot of a television set or radio.

Finally, if the Republicans of today were Democrats, and last week’s results left the Democrats in control of the Senate by a margin of 51 to 49, the Republicans would do something really crass. Really sneaky. In other words, really Democratic. What they’d do is convince Joe Lieberman, who’s essentially a liberal Republican now anyway, to switch parties. What’s he got to lose — seniority? All that good will he’s built up with Democrats by supporting regime change in Iraq? An invitation to Ned Lamont’s Christmas party? They’d make it worth Lieberman’s while, of course. Make him a chairman of some dweeby committee, rename the Bridge to Nowhere “Lieberman Bridge,” offer him complimentary shabbas goy services for life — you know, something. Lieberman’s switch would leave the Senate in a 50-50 tie and return control of the Senate to the Republicans through 2008 by endowing Vice President Cheney with the tie-breaking vote. For two glorious years the entire U.S. Senate — Kennedy, Kerry, Barack Obama — would be answering to Dick Cheney. Just imagine the possibilities — why, Hillary Clinton herself might spontaneously burst into flames. If this strikes you as unfair, remember that it’s more or less what the Democrats did to the Republicans in 2001 using former Republican tool and future Trivial Pursuit answer Jim Jeffords. The principle differences being, of course, that Joe Lieberman is a man of integrity, and that making him a Republican would reflect the will of the voters, not subvert it.

All of which makes a Lieberman switcheroo, all in all, not such a bad idea. Gentlemen?

Ned Rice is a Los Angeles-based, Emmy nominated television writer whose credits include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Real Time with Bill Maher.


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