If you’ve been watching the national news carefully over the past few days, you already know a very rare, special opportunity is unfolding. For the first time in years, the Democratic Party has found its backbone and defied a direct order from President Bush. And you’ll never guess what happened! None of the dark, scary threats of terrorist violence or national collapse issued by the President and Republican members of Congress came to pass. The terrorists haven’t won, Iraq and Afghanistan are just the same and not a single “Islamofascist” came over here to fight us. In spite of all the posturing and scary words, the Democratic-led House went ahead and opened Pandora’s box… only to find it bare.

Not that this result should be surprising to anyone. Since the beginning of the “Global War on Terror,” threats of bloody violence have rolled off the silver tongues of our leaders every time they wanted something more from us. People complaining about extraordinary rendition and the use of torture? It’s to protect us from imminent terrorist attacks, of course. Americans want out of Iraq? The terrorists will come to America and kill us all with suicide bombs. American citizens protesting the flagrant violations of our natural rights that are enumerated in the Constitution? They must support the terrorists – who, by the way, are right around the corner waiting to blow you and your family up! And so on.

Our leaders want us to believe that in order to protect us from brutal fanatics, we need to let them become brutal fanatics! Everything is A-okay though, because they’re on our side, along with Liberty and Justice and Apple Pie. Sadly, the “opposition party” has been either mute or complicit through this entire affair, allowing President Bush, Joe Lieberman, Dick Cheney and their motley band of fearmongers to amass the sort of powers Richard Nixon had wet dreams about.

Despite being years late to the party, Democratic politicians have finally realized it’s simply good politics to oppose this policy of fear and violence. The overwhelming majority of Americans does not want to live in a police state, do not want their phone calls and Internet usage monitored and do not want to continue fighting aggressive wars across the world. Instead, we want our rights protected and real criminals apprehended and tried, and we’re smart enough to see the opposite is happening. If for no other reason than it will get them more votes, the Democratic Party is starting to straighten their backs and push back against the echoes of “weak on terror” and “betraying our troops.”

This is such a basic idea that one marvels how Democrats just now figured it out. All one has to do to nullify these pitiful catchphrases is to stand up straight and tell things how they are. This past week, several Democratic leaders did just that. Among them was Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who stated last Wednesday, “Even if the Protect America Act expires later this week, the American people can be confident that our country remains safe and strong. Every order entered under the law can remain in effect for 12 months from the date it was issued.” That’s all she needed to say to expose the lie in the Beltway rhetoric of fear. Likewise, Senator Chris Dodd hit the nail on the head in saying, “There is only one issue here. Only one. The law issue. Attack the president’s contempt for the law at any point, and it will be wounded at all points.”

That’s the whole charade, isn’t it? Our president and other members of our government want to be above the law, so the people are told we need to be obedient and submissive. Anyone who challenges these threats is accused of anti-Americanism, but isn’t that claim patently false? Kudos to the Democratic representatives who have started to stand up to the president. Let’s hope this trend continues.