While driving around the county recently, I saw a bumper sticker that read: "First al Qaeda, then the Democrats."
I'm surprised al Qaeda was listed first. To some members the Republican Party, Democrats are the country's main enemy - not terrorists, not rogue dictators, but Democrats.
Talk radio and cable TV hosts who get their talking points from Republican Party Headquarters label Democrats as communists, traitors, and worse. According to the Republican Party, Democrats should be eradicated.
Its top strategists wrote in one memo that "In political conflicts, the goal is not to refute your opponent's argument, but to wipe him from the face of the earth."
The Republican Party even takes advantage of terrorist attacks to pursue its Democratic enemies. In the Homeland Security bill President Bush submitted, 170,000 workers were stripped of their union status - a poison pill that Mr. Bush knew Democrats couldn't support. It was inserted so his party could paint Democrats as "weak on terror," and help Republican candidates win midterm elections.
I have news for the driver of that car with the belligerent bumper sticker: when you treat people as enemies, you make them into enemies. That means they fight back.
The Frederick for Kerry campaign was run by an Army major and Iraq war veteran. It included two former Army sergeants and another Army officer. The Kerry campaign may be over, but these ex-Army soldiers are still working for the local Democratic Party.
The Frederick Democrats now include quite a few entrepreneurs as well: a guy who built a chain of health care clinics; a successful contractor; the CEO of a branding/marketing firm; a software entrepreneur; and the founder of a thriving Internet company.
Last year none of these people were politically active. This year they're building the local Democratic Party. These folks are smart, talented, and committed. They know how to build organizations, sell products, raise money, and get things done. And they're motivated by a fierce desire to defeat the party that calls them traitors and regards them as enemies.
Republican leaders are making lots of enemies these days, at home as well as abroad. They have acted like schoolyard bullies, picking on the skinny Democratic kid who was too nice to stand up for himself. But if you pick on people long enough and are mean enough, they toughen up and become implacable foes.
Republicans are about to discover that the kid they picked on is growing into a powerful youth who's learning how to fight and isn't afraid to mix it up, and who won't rest until the bullies are beaten.