Government & Politics | November 3, 2004
E-Mail to Democratic Activists,
Subject of Two Guest Appearances on "NewsRap
with Barry Gordon",
The Basis of a Speech and of a Posting to
From Left Field"
My Fellow, Devastated
Those who do not learn from
history are condemned to repeat it.
Here is what I am learning, and
re-learning, from this EXCRUCIATING experience -- we've lost the
Presidency AGAIN, we've lost ground in the Congress AGAIN, and
we'll undoubtedly lose ground in the Supreme Court AGAIN. We
just cannot afford to lose much more, if we ever hope to
resurrect our party and our beliefs. All the red on the map
screams EMERGENCY! The Democratic Party must reform itself NOW,
lest we become increasingly irrelevant or ultimately condemned
to the trash heap of history.
PLAY TO OUR STRENGTHS, NOT
THEIRS: If we like to lose to the Republicans, then let's run
candidates that play to their strengths, like defense and
security issues. If we'd like to sometime win again, then maybe
we'd better remember the mantra of the last Democrat to win the
Presidency, "It's the ECONOMY, stupid."
PUT OUR POLICIES IN TERMS OF
VALUES: Although we can't afford to pander (see above), if we'd
actually like to turn some red states blue, then we'll
apparently have to address their top concern:
"Values". Short of our running Billy Graham Jr. (or
Jimmie Carter) for President, I really don't know what the
solution is...other than to have the blue states secede from the
Union -- hell will freeze over before evangelical Christians
will say it's OK to be gay or to have abortions (as if they will
be legal in a few years). Then again, when the economy got bad
enough, half the born-agains went for Clinton in '92, because
Bush I was insensitive to the needs of the poor. We'll have to
pound and pound and pound on themes of ECONOMICS AS VALUES (like
when Bush bankrupts Social Security and old folks and sick folks
are thrust out onto the street). Christians know they'll have
hell to pay if they neglect the needy.
GET BACK TO OUR ROOTS: Working
people -- the very ones hurt most by conservative economic
policies, sending their jobs overseas, lowering their wages and
increasing their workloads, squandering their Social Security,
dumbing down their kids, and killing their kids in endless wars
overseas -- have been the very people putting the Nixons and
Reagans and Bushes into the White House. Getting Bruce
Springsteen, their balladeer, to sing on stage with you is not
nearly enough; putting their concerns at the CENTER of your
campaign is absolutely necessary! This ties in with both of the
points above, about playing to our strengths and turning red
states blue. Working people (and small business owners, who
SHOULD be with us, not the GOP) do NOT feel like we're treating
them with R-E-S-P-E-C-T (condescension doesn't count).
AFFABLE BEATS ALOOF: Teddy
Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, JFK, Reagan,
Clinton, even Bush the Chimp -- all were charismatic or at least
folksy, warm, and/or fuzzy. Their opponents were (Oh, what's the
Yiddish term?) loxes.
NOMINATE EXECUTIVES: In our
lifetimes, the men elected President have always been
Presidents, Vice Presidents, or Governors (and, for those as old
as me, one General) -- all Executive branch positions -- with
the lone exception of Senator John F. Kennedy (and even that
extremely tight election was shrouded in controversy; and
anyway, I've not seen another Democrat of the stature of JFK,
have you?). There's a good reason for this phenomenon:
Executives act; legislators talk...and talk...and talk... And
the people want action, not just talk. So the next time someone
says, "Wouldn't Senator __________ or Congress(wo)man
__________ be a great Democratic Presidential candidate?"
I'll ask, "Are you a Republican or a masochist?" And
since we're fresh out of Democratic VPs (unless we'd care to
re-run Gore or Mondale), I'd suggest we take a good, long, hard
look at our dwindling list of Democratic governors (and
generals): They're our best, LAST hope. And oh, don't overlook
any women -- we're SUPPOSED to be the "progressive"
party (and most voters, including most of our current voters,
DO NOT FRONTLOAD OUR PRIMARIES:
Not vetting our candidates thoroughly will always come back to
haunt us. The Swift Boat Liars for Bush were full of sh*t but
Kerry did throw his medals away and talk up atrocities -- I
thought those were appropriate for the times (it did help end
the war) but it sure as hell didn't play out that way amongst
the veterans and current military that I presume his service was
supposed to impress (but failed miserably to do).
DON'T PULL YOUR PUNCHES:
"Playing nice" is a good way to get into the second
spot on the ticket, not the way to run a convention. Going
negative is just as important as being positive. As we say in
painting, "You can't have light without dark."
DON'T LET THE OTHER GUY DEFINE
YOU: "Liberal" is not a dirty word. Nor is
"moderate" or even "conservative" (as when
it comes to deficits). The entire dictionary is ours as well as
theirs: We define ourselves however the hell we like -- proudly
-- and if somebody else doesn't like it, then that's their
problem, not ours.
DON'T SECOND-GUESS YOURSELF
DURING THE CAMPAIGN: As I did ten days before the election, when
the polls were turning sharply against us. Mea culpa.
BE REALISTIC ABOUT THE POLLS:
Don't be overly optimistic because of "liberal" polls,
like Zogby (His predictions didn't exactly pan out); but don't
be overly pessimistic because of "conservative" polls,
like Fox and Newsweek. Most polls are actually fairly accurate:
The CNN poll of polls showed a two- or three-point lead for
Bush, which is exactly what happened (if we can believe the
polling place returns...and if we can't, prove it -- how come
the CNN exit polls, as I calculated with you, showed a 51 to 48
advantage for Kerry, when it turned out exactly the other way
around? Margins of error, or respondents lying, or...).
GET NEW LEADERSHIP FOR OUR
PARTY: Our DISASTROUS defeats in 2000, 2002, and now 2004 should
be quite enough. Call in The Donald and tell our leaders,
"Thanks for your service but YOU'RE FIRED." (I had
been hoping to use that line on Bush today but it was not to be,
God help us)
...and most importantly...
BELIEVERS": If you don't have a sincere, contagious,
gut-level PASSION for Democratic principles, you needn't bother
to apply. If this electoral disaster has taught me anything,
it's that the people will buy anything if you believe in it
enough yourself -- in Bush's case, it is basically his fervent
belief in his Mission from the Almighty -- a mission now
bought-into lock, stock, and barrel by most of our fellow
Americans. God help us all.
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