Wednesday, December 01, 2004

VOR Advice for the Democrats Part 2

I want to follow-up on R.C.’s point that Democrats need to be for some things and not just against everything. Here are some Democratic mottos I would like to see:

1. Democrats: The party of inclusion, not exclusion

Recently, Republicans have defined themselves on a strongly anti-gay platform and this is showing signs of extending to discrimination against all those who aren’t members of a traditional heterosexual nuclear family (Senator Coburn was elected in Oklahoma after stating that single mothers should not be allowed to be teachers). Since less than 50% of American families fit into the traditional nuclear mold, the GOP seems to be siding with the minority. Democrats should present themselves as the party that wants to embrace the full spectrum of American families, including gays, lesbians, and single mothers and fathers. Isn’t inclusion what American is ultimately all about?

2. Democrats: The party of the public interest, not special interests

This is a fairly old line of attack, but it is truer today than ever. Yes, Democrats also do cater to some special interests, but not nearly to the degree that Republicans do. In fact, almost all key elements of legislation the GOP passed during Bush’s first term and wants to pass during the second are wish lists for powerful special interest groups from energy companies, to medical insurers, to financial brokers (the NYT posted a great article on how PACs are now donating to Republicans at much higher rates Democrats: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/26/politics/26PAC.html). The Democrats are in a position to make a strong case that they have the public interest in mind and that they will fashion legislation that isn’t just good for big business and campaign contributors.

3. Democrats: The party of pre-emptive peace, not pre-emptive war

I know a lot of people are probably shaking their heads at this, thinking that making claims like this would ensure Republican dominance for generations. Bear with me for a moment. Remember that guy the GOP loves to claim as their own, who Bush considers his hero? Well, Jesus isn’t called the “Prince of Peace” for nothing. I think putting a religious spin on this and making it clear that Democrats want to wield not just sticks, but carrots, and that Jesus would likely consider this good policy could be a winning strategy if done well. I know it carries risks but do Democrats really want to simply try to out-hawk Republicans (a la Joe Lieberman) for the rest of their lives? And aren’t there some people on the Left who still believe that democracy and freedom can be promoted in ways short of invading hostile countries?

4. Democrats: The party of liberty, not government intrusion

Conservatives, with their libertarian inclinations, used to have this angle locked down. But with the rise of the religious right, who seem intent on telling us all how to live even if it means legislating bedroom behavior, partnership rules, and women’s bodies the era of “get the government out of your life” Republicanism is all but dead (and don’t forget about the brazenly Big Brothesque tax return snooping bill that some unknown GOP fairy slipped into the budget in the wee hours of the night last week and almost got passed). I see no reason why the Democrats shouldn’t resurrect a version of the libertarian tradition (you like the religious wording don’t you?). After all, Americans don’t like being told what to do and how to live and if the Democrats really have some nerve they would extend this logic to rethinking some of the nation’s absurdly damaging and costly drug laws. Isn’t it time that a mature adult American can grow a few pot plants in his or her backyard and smoke them peacefully in their living room (while watching dozens of beer and Viagra commercials) without having to fear that the DEA is about to bust in and seize their home?

P.S. Although this is somewhat unrelated, a number of people (presumably Republicans) have commented that the Democrats have just as many extremists in their ranks as Republicans. Maybe I’m just not as good as finding examples of Democrats saying outlandish and extremist things (and trying to make them the law of the land) so I invite people to let me know what I’m missing. And please, no Michael Moore or Al Franken quotes; those guys aren’t in power.


J.S.

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