Stage and screen star Barbra Streisand recently fired off a bellicose memo to Democrats urging them to confront "ruthless" Republicans. The text of the memo follows.
Nice Guys Finish Last
Where Do We Go From Here: A Case for the Democrats
What has happened to the Democrats since the November election? Some of you seem paralyzed, demoralized and depressed. I hope you're through arguing among yourselves and distancing yourselves from President Clinton. Let's not let them divert attention from the success of his administration over the past eight years. Let's not allow the Republicans to take away the gains we've made. The Republicans understand the power of unity.
We should have one goal, and that's to win back the House, Senate and Presidency. Unless we win, we'll be consistently on the defensive with our fingers holding the dyke [sic] against the Republican revolution. We should draw attention to the differences in our parties, hold accountable those currently in power and make them pay for their actions on Election Day. This is not a time to be weak.
The public responds to strength. You don't have to be ruthless like the Republicans, just be strong. Remember the example set by Reagan, with whom the public consistently disagreed on policy issues while they strongly approved of him. People approved of him because they respected his strength. They respected the fact that he held strong beliefs, even if they disagreed with the beliefs themselves. I think they feel the same way about George W. Bush. Look at his ratings — how could such a destructive man be so popular with the American people? George W. Bush has turned out to be exactly the man we knew he was — someone who goes back on his word. Not only is he poisoning our air and water by withdrawing his promise to enforce emissions standards and arsenic regulations, he's poisoning our political system as well. Bipartisanship only works if you can trust the other side. As we have learned in the past weeks, we cannot trust George W. Bush.
This is key moment in our history. We cannot let the right wing roll back more than thirty years of social progress. We must mount a strong, strategic and targeted offense against the Republican revolution that is now sweeping all branches of government.
We have a president who stole the presidency through family ties, arrogance and intimidation, employing Republican operatives to exercise the tactics of voter fraud by disenfranchising thousands of blacks, elderly Jews and other minorities. We have a Congress passing laws that benefit corporations and the privileged few at the expense of the working men and women of this country. We have a Supreme Court that is seeking to overturn everything we struggled for over the last 30 years. And they're just getting started.
In the past five years, there have been 26 Supreme Court decisions invalidating Congress' power to make use of the commerce and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. By usurping Congress' power to make laws, the right wing of the Supreme Court is substituting its judgment for the will of the people. These five justices are favoring the rights of multinational corporations over most Americans. We must speak out against this injustice and defeat this interference.
Who benefits from this Republican strategy? Those who bought and paid for the election of George W. Bush — corporate America, that's who:
Banking and financial corporations like MBNA contributed $1.3 million to Bush's campaign. They already got something for their money. As you well know, Republicans recently tightened bankruptcy laws that will create billions of dollars in additional revenue for banks and their corporate partners by weakening protections for working people who fall prey to credit card companies' dirty tactics.
Manufacturing interests like Samuel Heyman of the GAF Corporation, a former manufacturer of asbestos-laden building products. Heyman donated $250,000 to the GOP last July. Three days later, Republicans delivered a bill to the House floor — which luckily did not pass, thanks to Democrats — that would have protected asbestos companies against claims from thousands of asbestos victims and would have cost taxpayers more than $150 million a year in benefits to the industry.
Construction industry companies and their executives gave all but 4 percent of their $2 million in political contributions to Republicans. They have already received payback. Bush's executive order to eliminate preference to firms that hire union workers in assigning government contracts means they can hire workers who are not covered by union protections. Industry leaders will greatly benefit from Bush's decision to overturn workplace standards that protect employees from repetitive stress injuries.
The Oil Industry supported the Bush/Cheney campaign by more than 4-to-1 in its campaign contributions. Bush has said he will deregulate the energy market and drill in protected wildlife areas, both of which greatly please executives like Kenneth Lay, who gave more than $362,000 in personal contributions, and his Enron energy company, which has played a central role in the Western States energy crisis. In addition, according to Mother Jones magazine, corporate pollsters like David Koch (who gave more than $484,000 in personal contributions) and his Koch Industries will benefit by Bush's loosening of the environmental standards put into place by President Clinton.
And speaking of Clinton, how long will we continue to let the Republicans use the pardon issue as a tool of distraction? Why focus such attention on contributions to a Presidential Library Foundation? Talk about Republican pardons. George Bush protected himself by pardoning those linked to him in the Iran-Contra scandal. He pardoned a heroin drug trafficker and a terrorist who was responsible for 73 deaths. Clinton's pardons have no impact on the health and welfare of the American people. What the Republicans are doing to our country does! As Rose Kennedy said about John Kennedy: "Great men have great flaws." But they still can achieve great things.
George W. Bush's first months in office have been filled with shameless quid pro quos and paybacks. There are some quid pro quos that don't hurt anyone. Others, that put private interests over the needs of the American people, are quite destructive. More than $3 billion was spent on federal campaigns last election cycle. Even if we can't directly link this money to votes taken in Congress, it is obvious that money buys influence and access under the current system. This problem is almost as prevalent among Democrats as it is with Republicans. This is why I have always supported public financing of elections.
Don't forget that the "wise men and women" of the Supreme Court installed the President they wanted in the White House, ignoring the will of the people. In my view, that was a "Supreme Coup".
Why be afraid to speak out and remind the public of what happened last November? Maybe it's because some of you are up for reelection and, therefore, might be afraid to rock the boat. Well, I disagree. Rocking the boat is what wins elections!
You need to speak on TV, on radio and in the newspapers about the election and keep hammering home about the legislative favors Bush is granting his corporate supporters in exchange for their campaign contributions. (I think the media is finally catching on.) You need to organize, to motivate, to inspire the disillusioned citizens and the disenfranchised voters of this country who think their votes don't matter. Reach out to voters against gun violence, to voters who want to protect choice, to voters dedicated to saving the environment. Show them you care and we can win.
Unfortunately, the public is being fooled by Bush. They are not sufficiently informed to protect their own self-interests. They like him personally. Despite the problems we face, Democrats are the party of, by and for the people while Republicans are the party of, by and for the corporation. Keep reminding people of that! Our leaders and policymakers have to fight for the concepts and ideals that have shaped the Democratic Party for generations. Our country cannot afford to wait. Just being nice doesn't work. Let's act now and fight before it's too late! I know you can do it.