FDL Book Salon Welcomes Representative Robert Wexler: Fire-Breathing Liberal: How I Learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress
Rep. Robert Wexler’s new book is called "Fire-Breathing Liberal: How I Learned to Survive (and Thrive) in the Contact Sport of Congress."
Even before it was released, it rose to the top of the Amazon political best-seller list on the basis of pre-orders by Wexler’s large base of netroots fans who admire his willingness to fight for his – and our – political beliefs.
But Wexler doesn’t just preach to the choir. This week, Wexler appeared both on FOX News and on the Colbert Report, where he was famously embarrassed with questions about cocaine and prostitutes.
Obviously the timing is right for Wexler’s book. Two years ago, Democrats took over both houses of Congress by winning 30 seats in the House and 5 seats in the Senate. This year, Democrats could pick up another 15-30 seats in the House, 5-10 more in the Senate, and elect Wexler’s close friend Barack Obama as President.
So the real question isn’t why Robert Wexler wrote a book promoting liberal Democratic politics, but why is he the only Congressman who has?
Perhaps it’s because Congressional Democrats don’t understand why they won in 2006 and why they are heading for victory again in 2008.
Democrats won because George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Republican Party steered America so fast and far to the right that we all went sailing over the cliff, yet they still have their pedal to the metal and the steering wheel jammed to the right.
Congressional Democrats seem to think Americans just want the country to turn right more slowly. But Americans want a real turn to the left, not a slower turn to the right.
Americans want economic growth. Bush’s pro-oil policies have tripled the price of oil, and this is killing our economy – not just at the gas pump, but also in the grocery store. Bush’s pro-rich tax cuts have created a massive gap between rich and poor, and emptied the federal treasury so we can’t fix our roads or pay our teachers. Our economy is being strangled by powerful corporations, and we need to break that stranglehold to unleash entrepreneurship and grow once again.
Americans want affordable, accessible health care for everyone. We know we’re paying for it through premiums and taxes that are higher than any country in the world. But we know that much of our health care money is lost in insurance and hospital bureaucracies that spend our money looking for ways to deny us the care we paid for, not to provide that care. We need a single-payer system like other industrialized nations have.
Americans want to solve our energy and environmental crises, which share a common cause: our dependence on fossil fuels. We want solar energy, wind power, and electric cars. And we want them now, so we need a massive, focused effort like the Manhattan Project to bring it about.
Americans want to restore our moral leadership in the world. We want to bring peace to Afghanistan, which we thought we solved in 2001. We want to bring our troops home from Iraq, where Bush sent them on the basis of lies. We want to negotiate with Iran, not start an even wider war with nuclear bombs. And we want to end torture and close our own Gulag Archipelago of secret prisons around the world.
Finally, Americans want our Constitution back. We don’t want our President to be a Dictator who can start wars for oil, give massive no-bid contracts to his friends, wiretap all our emails and calls, lock people away without trial, corrupt every agency in the executive branch, and ignore Congress or lie to its face. And if we end up with that kind of President, we want to see him impeached – and then indicted and jailed.
On all of these issues, Americans know Republicans want to go in the wrong direction. So they are voting for Democrats in the hope that we will bring about the kinds of changes we have fought for since FDR.
But we’re not seeing those kinds of changes. The Democratic Congress led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid has been a disaster. None of our nation’s problems have been fixed, and some have been made even worse.
At the top of the list is Iraq. We’ve already wasted over 4,000 American lives and over $562 billion in our tax dollars, and 70% of Americans want to bring our troops safely home. But Congress just voted to give Bush another $163 billion so he can keep our troops there for another full year. Why did 80 Democrats in the House and every Democrat in the Senate vote with George Bush?
Ditto on Bush’s illegal wiretapping. Newspaper reports and Congressional hearings show that Bush started wiretapping law-abiding Americans in defiance of the Constitution and FISA long before 9/11. Only a few Members of Congress have the vaguest clue how extensive the wiretapping is, and they cannot tell another soul what little they know. Yet 105 Democrats in the House and 30 Democrats in the Senate voted to let Bush continue wiretapping us without a warrant – and gave immunity to Bush and the telco’s who flagrantly defied the law. Why?
Robert Wexler is right in the middle of these fights. He serves on both the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs Committees, so he deals with domestic and foreign disasters. When TV lights are on, he gets to grill White House officials like Alberto Gonzales, Scott McClellan, and Condi Rice. And when TV lights go off, he gets to privately urge Democratic leaders to stand and fight, not surrender and retreat.
So let’s welcome Robert Wexler to Firedoglake and find out why he – almost alone among Democrats – is willing to fight the most corrupt and dangerous President America has ever had. And let’s find out whether Wexler’s friend Barack Obama is willing to fight for real progressive change, or whether he will cave under pressure from Big Corporations as he did on wiretapping this week.