The "Gang of 14" - the New Mugwumps

The “Gang of 14,” representing the 14 most unprincipled, spine-challenged members of the U.S. Senate, have introduced to the nation the first serious third party since the early 1900s, when Teddy Roosevelt’s offshoot Bull Moose Party helped split the Republican Party vote and sweep into power democrat Woodrow Wilson, whose eight years in the presidency comprised the democrats’ only hold on the office between 1897 and 1933. Of the 14 malcontents, the republicans, led by McCain and Warner, came off looking the weakest, willing to sell out a Constitutional principle, the unmitigated guarantee of up-or-down votes on judicial nominees, for what can only be termed personal gain. The most pathetic of the democrats was Byrd (before whom Warner and McCain genuflected), who has completely reversed himself with respect to previous positions he held when democrats were in power. These 14 should organize themselves into a third party, headed by the most unattractive statesperson wannabes since the Dixiecrats of the 40s-60s and the Perot crowd of the 90s, which, if they can be called parties, also did damage, especially the followers of Perot, who gave the presidency to Bill Clinton in 1992.

The democrats dissenting from their leader’s position showed that they didn’t have the stuff to stand and fight to protect the un-Constitutional status insisted upon by Minority Leader Reid. The republicans dissenting from their leader’s position showed either a significantly developed weakness of will or mind…or perhaps, despite Majority Leader Frist’s leadership demanding integrity, they were just electioneering in behalf of the next voting exercises (perish the thought of such self-serving). In any case, neither Reid nor Frist was a part of the process instigated by the “Gang of 14,” who admitted to themselves and to one and all in their press conference that they were the conscience of the Senate, perhaps of the nation. Was it Byrd who said the republic was saved? What balderdash! Of all the people who should never sit in judgment upon a judge, Byrd is the most qualified for that non-privilege, having once been a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, as well as a long-winded filibusterer in June of 1964, when he pulled an all-night speech of 14 hours and 13 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of that year.

After making that despicable speech, Senator Byrd had the gall to say in February 1975: “This Congress is not obliged to be bound by the dead hand of the past. . . . . The first Senate, which met & in 1789, approved 19 rules by a majority vote. Those rules have been changed from time to time . . . . So the Members of the Senate who met in 1789 and approved that first body of rules did not for one moment think, or believe, or pretend, that all succeeding Senates would be bound by that Senate. . . . It would be just as reasonable to say that one Congress can pass a law providing that all future laws have to be passed by two-thirds vote. Any Member of this body knows that the next Congress would not heed that law and would proceed to change it and would vote repeal of it by majority vote (italics mine).

The 14 senators give themselves far too much credit…or, put another way, they are infatuated by egos that would serve well to surpass that of the collective egos of Kerry and Edwards, who were the presumptive saviors of the nation in 2004. Given their high degree of self-esteem, however, they should simply form a third party, perhaps called the New Mugwump Party, a reincarnation of the old Mugwump Party of 1884. Indeed, the definition of a mugwump, according to the M-W Collegiate, 11th Edition, is: “a bolter from the Republican party in 1884.” The definition fits perfectly, since the 14 have bolted from their respective parties.

The new mugwumpers need to form a platform, of course, in readiness for the next presidential convention in 2008. Their presumptive candidate would probably be McCain, since he is actually a democrat dressed in republican clothes, necessary attire in which to be elected from the Goldwater State. Since he is a democrat in philosophy and a republican in name he comprises the perfect combination for being a candidate. Perhaps he should hearken back to Teddy Roosevelt, who, though the most popular republican in the land then, could not get the republican nomination in the Taft-controlled party in 1912, formed the Bull Moosers, and lost. McCain knows he cannot get the republican nomination in 2008 and probably will not be asked to run with the democrat, but needs to understand that neither TR, nor any Dixiecrat, nor Ross Perot was successful in presidential politics. If the margin of republican majority were thinner in the Senate, he could pull a “Jeffords Maneuver,” simply changing his registration to Democrat and robbing republicans of control, but that ploy would be of no use now.

The main energizer regarding the new platform would be the philosophy that party loyalty is intolerable, unsophisticated, and bespeaks personal sacrifice, something that no self-respecting politician should ever be expected to make. This means that positions on every issue would be debated and that no position would ever be taken. The substance is in the debate, but not in the platform, lest it be construed as somehow unduly binding, never mind that platforms in both parties are never binding now. With the mugwumps, however, this position would become official.

Since McCain, a mugwumped republican, would head the ticket, it is reasonable to expect that the second spot would belong to a mugwumped democrat, preferably one who would bring gravitas to the ticket. That would have to be someone wise enough to overcome a horrific past and stay in the Senate, and someone who is a wise master at speaking from both sides of the mouth, a crude way of remarking tact, the prime tool of a diplomat and often a euphemism for the terms liar or hypocrite…and, of course, staying in the Senate. This spot would have to go to Byrd, who, despite his KKK and non-civil-rights past is still in the Senate (imagine the fate of a republican saddled with those things), and remains there despite his duplicity, mentioned above with respect to the sanctity (or non-sanctity, as he would have it back then but not now), and before whom 13 of the “Gang of 14” bowed and scraped as before a god on Mt. Olympus…or, make that the Oracle at Delphi.

So…there’s the new third party, with the details to be further ironed out, of course. The location for the 2008 convention is already a pressing consideration. In order to enhance its legitimacy, the New Mugwump Party should choose a city that either already has established its independence or is located in a state that is known for same. Since the most amazing judicial decisions of late have been those made in San Francisco and Boston (or in their states) with regard to allowing men to marry each other, one of these cities is the likely choice. Perhaps it would be preferable to have the convention on the night before the election in November, thereby using the element of surprise for leverage, the republicans and democrats having already worn out the public with their years-long campaign battering-rams.