Fire the Democrats who vote like Republicans

On Saturday, I received a letter from the office of Rep. Jim Davis, the member of the U.S. House of Representatives who ostensibly speaks for those in his district, myself included. It was a reply to a letter I wrote him asking why he had not started impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for acts they had committed since taking office in 2001.

These include misleading the country into a war of aggression – Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan said, “From the (United Nations) charter point of view, it (the war) was illegal” – encouraging torture, spying on Americans without a warrant, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. Davis replied he had not done anything because none of his colleagues have initiated the process yet. Davis’ words were not those of a leader.

Yet, Davis, who is running for governor of Florida, wants Floridians to vote for him to lead the entire state.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., is running for re-election. He and nearly all other Senate Democrats are running scared from Sen. Russ Feingold’s, D-Wisc., motion to censure President Bush for allowing the National Security Agency wiretapping tactics. Censure is certainly not a strong enough reprimand for violating the law, but you wouldn’t know it if you spoke with most Senate Democrats.

Despite Nelson’s regressive position on censure, Iraq and the Patriot Act, there is no active resistance against his re-election by so-called progressives in Florida. Voting for Nelson is the same as saying, “The way you have represented me is acceptable, and I would like you to do the same for the next six years.” But Nelson’s votes have been anything but acceptable. He has voted for Bush’s wars on Afghanistan and Iraq. Every year, he votes for stratospheric funding for each of those wars and also voted for the Patriot Act in 2001 and for its renewal earlier this year.

Nelson voted to confirm ultra-conservative John Roberts to a lifetime appointment as Supreme Court chief justice and voted to end the filibuster of Samuel Alito’s appointment. The effect of these two votes has helped ensure the Supreme Court will be hostile to civil liberties, the environment, women’s rights and personal freedom for the next generation. Alberto Gonzales was also confirmed as attorney general by the Senate, thanks in part to Nelson’s “yes” vote. Gonzales was one of the chief architects of the policy of torture afflicting the United States.

Davis, like Nelson, also voted for Bush’s illegal war of aggression against the people of Iraq and continually votes for the obscene Pentagon budgets that fuel the Bush doctrine of expansionist militarism. Davis, like Nelson, voted for the Patriot Act during its first inception; however, he did not vote at all when the act came up for renewal.

Where is the organized resistance to Davis and Nelson? Why are there no progressives running for their House or Senate seats? It is a sad comment on the state of the Democratic Party that the closest thing to a progressive who is running to replace Davis in the House is Republican Jim Greenwald. None of the Democrats running for Davis’ seat have a platform that is as progressive as Greenwald’s. For example, Greenwald said on his campaign Web site that “war is not the answer to the world’s problems – cooperation is.”

Others running for Davis’ seat are less progressive. State Sen. Les Miller, D-Tampa, advocates using coal and nuclear power as energy sources. Another leading candidate, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kathy Castor, has been the only non-homophobic voice on the County Commission, yet shows she is not serious about the office by not mentioning the war in Iraq on her Web site.

People whose interests are diametrically opposed to the way Nelson and Davis consistently vote seem resigned to vote for them anyway. However, it doesn’t make sense to continue to do the same thing yet expect different results. There needs to be a progressive alternative for Florida voters this November. In the senatorial and gubernatorial races, that option doesn’t seemingly exist. Voters should resist the urge to support the regressive war hawks and enemies of civil liberties Nelson and Davis and actively work for their defeat.

Seán Kinane is a doctoral candidate in biology.