Friday, November 19, 2010

The price of prey-driven politics

Democrats are prey. Republicans are predators.

That's the post-election view from the Intermountain West where residents are intimately familiar with the life-and-death dramas that play out every day in the wild places that dominate our landscapes.

As long as Democrats act like prey, Republicans are going to track them down, rip their policies to ribbons and consume them in elections.

During the recent off-year election, Democrats from President Obama on down offered up only weak defenses of major new laws and spending that history will show saved the nation from economic disaster and far worse unemployment levels than we're experiencing today.

History also will show that when faced with imposing tough new regulations on the Wall Street firms, banks and insurance companies that caused the crash and brought on the economic fallout on ordinary people, Democrats blinked when Republican wolves howled.

Then, like all prey, most Democrats ran and became scared of their own shadows.

Nationally, voters aligned themselves with the howling predators and not the meek, skittish Democrats who still seem to believe that offering olive branch after olive branch to Republicans will make them loved instead of lunch.

Even David Plouffe, who ran President Obama's successful campaign, is paralyzed and opining that the next campaign for the White House won't begin until the day after Republicans nominate a candidate.

Plouffe is prey, frozen in the face of the advances of predators.

Unfortunately, Idaho is about to begin to experience the awful consequences of Democrats' failure to strongly defend their own policies and convictions.

Cornered by the "no new taxes" policies of a Republican governor and Legislature, Idaho may have to cut $340 million out of the state's next budget. The Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee is preparing for huge cuts in human services, and likely education, that will balance the budget on the backs of the oldest, sickest and weakest Idahoans.

Federal cuts to Medicaid and evaporation of stimulus funds have left the committee and the Department of Health and Welfare to contemplate doing away with prescription drug coverage, services for developmentally disabled, hospice care, dentures, eyeglasses, preventive care, mental health treatment and prosthetics.

It was once inconceivable that lawmakers in the richest nation on Earth could be reduced to even thinking about balancing its budgets on the backs of the legless and armless. But that's what happens when lawmakers who should be lions behave like lambs.

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