Government & Politics | December 15, 2004
Basis for a Guest Appearance on "NewsRap
with Barry Gordon",
an E-Mail to Democratic Activists
you get the attention of a Democratic donkey?
You hit it over the head with a two-by-four!
The electorate has done just that.
Clinging to the filibuster (or the threat of one) as our
only remaining lever of federal power, we Democrats have some hard
lessons to learn, if we do not wish our storied party to go
the way of the Know-Nothings.
TO OUR STRENGTHS, NOT THEIRS. Running candidates whose strengths lie within Republican
domains, like security and defense, invites only defeat. Although we cannot afford to cede any position, we must
nominate candidates whose reputations have been built upon popular
Democratic positions, particularly domestic issues.
It may not be entirely "the economy, stupid"; but that
is usually -- and rightfully -- a winning issue for us.
POLICIES IN TERMS OF "VALUES".
We must not just tolerate but truly respect deep-seated
religious convictions. We
must appreciate that most Americans will put their faith, which
sustains them through the toughest of times, ahead of their
immediate self-interest -- a fact not lost on others, exploiting
hell will freeze over before evangelicals will say that it is OK
to perform abortions or homosexual acts, that sex talk or acts on
TV are "family friendly", or that kids should not pray in
school, when the economy got bad enough in 1992 half the Born
Agains voted for Bill Clinton, because the first President Bush
was seen as insensitive to the needy.
On Judgment Day, the King will say, "Whatsoever you did
to the least of My brethren, that you did unto Me."
everything from Social Security and progressive taxation to child
care and the environment, we Democrats have positions that can be
righteously "sold" as ethical and moral, as well as pragmatic
and wise. Our
opponents' positions, by contrast, reek of the greatest sin of
to listen to the people and understand what is most important to
them. The Right
stresses personal responsibility; the Left, public spiritedness.
We need to stand for both of these traditional American
values: In a
nutshell, good citizenship.
BACK TO OUR ROOTS. Working
people have been hurt the most by conservative economic policies
-- sending their jobs overseas, increasing their workloads,
lowering their wages, squandering their Social Security, dumbing
down their kids, and killing their kids in wars overseas -- but
they have also been the very voters putting the Nixons, Reagans,
and Bushes into the White House.
Putting a working class balladeer centerstage in a campaign
is not nearly enough; putting working class concerns centerstage
in our agenda is key. Too
many working people -- and small business owners -- feel like we
are not treating them with respect.
we must not take minority groups for granted.
Our party did not effectively reach out to Latinos in this
last election, and we lost almost half their votes.
than anything else, the Democratic Party stands for the equitable
sharing of power, between people of different means,
ethnicities, orientations, and genders.
Our party must re-emphasize its ideals of fairness.
BEATS ALOOF. JFK,
Reagan, Clinton, George "Dubya" -- all were perceived as
charismatic, folksy, or unpretentious.
"Populists" have bested "elitists" throughout
American history. A
candidate must connect with the people in order to win their
EXECUTIVES. Since Senator JFK, all those (re-)elected President have been
Presidents, Vice Presidents, or governors -- all executive branch
leaders. There is
good reason for this: Executives
act; legislators talk...and talk...and talk...
And the people want action, not just talk.
Unless we would care to re-run Gore or Mondale, we had
better take a long, hard look at our dwindling list of Democratic
governors (and ex-governors):
They are our last, best hope.
NOT FRONTLOAD THE PRIMARIES.
If we don't take the opportunity to vet our candidates
fully, our opponents will be more than happy to air our dirty
laundry in public, at the least opportune time.
PULL YOUR PUNCHES. "Playing
nice" is a good way to win the second spot on the ticket, not
the way to run a convention.
LET THE OTHER GUY DEFINE YOU.
Even the most conservative of our candidates will
eventually be branded "liberal", just because he or she is a
Democrat. We have to
be prepared to defend and define ourselves and our positions, in
terms that are to our best advantage and are clear to the public:
If we do not know what we stand for, we cannot expect the
NEW LEADERSHIP, "TRUE BELIEVERS". The people will apparently buy anything if you believe in it
enough yourself. In
the case of George W. Bush, that is his fervent belief in a
mission from God (Lord, help us).
party and our nation need leadership that will reach out over the
political establishment to the heads and hearts of the voters,
with a sincere, infectious, gut-level passion that makes
Democratic values, "liberal" or otherwise, not merely "acceptable" but simply irresistible.
need a Democratic Ronald Reagan.Return to
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