« Donate and RSVP - Turn Virginia Blue Barbecue! | Main | VA Legislative Sentry: HB1681 »


Elaine in Roanoke VA

Long but for what it's worth...
Democratic Principles Statement

The Democratic Party Must Frame Its Message

We need to frame our message better, to learn how to use language to explain what we stand for in terms that resonate with others. As the party out of power, we have the chance to redefine the ideals of the party - inclusiveness, a moral sense of community that impels us to take care of the poor and less fortunate, fairness for all, strength that comes from alliances with like-minded democracies in the world, fiscal discipline that refuses to make future generations pay for our lifestyle, protection of the earth we share with all of creation.
Republicans cannot blame Democrats for their failures. They are responsible for structural budget deficits, giveaways to special interests, corruption fostered by pandering to amoral elites, the increasing divide in Ameica between haves and have nots, the continuing decline of the middle class, a foreign policy that has alienated our allies and made us less secure.

"Republican Lite" Doesn't Work

Returning to the disasterous policy of the 2002 election is worse than doing nothing. Every time that Democrats veer one way or the other, rather than defining ourselves by principles that we keep from election to election, we reinforce the Republican attack that we don't stand for moral values. We allow the opposition, once again, to define us, rather than defining ourselves.

We need to return to the moral grounding of the party for the last half century. At its heart, this party has beliefs that can win: fighting poverty, defending the middle class, protecting civil rights, improving education and health care, preserving the environment, returning foreign policy to multilateral cooperation with allies, restoring a fiscal policy that protects the long-term health of our economy, protecting the free market system from the excesses that lack of regulation brings.

Democrats Must Stand for Our Principles Even in Defeat

Democrats must never play into the stereotype of politicians as venal creatures who will say anything to get elected. People respect straight talk and honesty. If we have to pander to what the latest focus group tells overpaid political consultants, if we give up the moral convictions that have brought our core supporters to the party, we don't deserve to win elections. Our task is to compete in all parts of the nation and convince people that we can govern better that the opposition. It took the far right Republicans from Goldwater's defeat in 1964 to Reagan's election in 1980 to consolidate power in their party. Democrats will not regain power in one election. We, too, have to earn a return to power by grassroots political action.

Democrats Must Not Fall for the Rovian Trap Again

All the talk now about co-operation with the Republicans in Congress will just set the stage for a repeat of Karl Rove's successful strategy in 2002 and 2004. Examples? The Iraq War never was our issue because both Democratic candidates had voted to authorize it. Criticism of No Child Left Behind rang hollow with the electorate because too many Democrats, including Sen. Ted Kennedy, voted for it. Every time Democrats sign on to a Bush agenda, they limit the party's ability to be an effective opposition, both in Congress and in future elections.

Good Advice from Robert Reich and Donna Brazille

"Bush spoke about right and wrong in moral terms...Kerry spoke of right and wrong in pragmatic terms...I don't think most Americans rejected John Kerry's policies. They just didn't pay much attention to them...Kerry kept saying he had a 'plan' for the economy and a 'plan' for health care and a 'plan' for fighting terrorists...One of the legacies of the last 40 years of mounting distrust in government is that plans and policies sound like meaningless blather...When political leaders speak with righteous indignation—with passion and conviction about what is morally right to do or morally offensive—they can inspire. Kerry was correct on policy, but his policies didn't inspire.
"My recommendation to Democrats is not to become more 'religious.' Religion is a personal matter. Nor should Dems move toward Republican positions on matters of personal morality...My recommendation is that Democrats offer somewhat fewer plans and policies and have more moral conviction.
"Democrats used to talk in moral terms—about fighting for civil rights, for example. What should Democrats say now and in the future about public morality? That it's morally wrong to give huge tax cuts to the rich while cutting social programs for the poor and working class—especially when the gap between the rich and everyone else is wider than it's been in more than a century. That we have a moral obligation to give every American child a good education and decent health care. That it's morally wrong that millions of Americans who work full time don't earn enough to keep their families out of poverty. That corporate executives who steal money from their investors and employees are morally reprehensible. And that it's morally wrong to kill over a hundred thousand Iraqis and send over a thousand young Americans to their deaths for a cause that is still undefined, in a war that was unnecessary...Unless or until Democrats return to larger questions of public morality, they won't inspire the American public...Right-wingers would like nothing better than for us to lose this faith and just go home and be quiet. Then they win forever." - Robert B. Reich is University Professor at Brandeis University, Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, and author.
"This is a new moment to identify and recruit better messengers. Perhaps it's time to tap into the "Obama" factor: Scour statehouses for young, energetic, inspiring, and emerging leaders with the ability to connect the head and heart. Too many of the old Democratic guard have stayed in Washington, D.C., too long to fully recognize how most Americans live their lives. I admit that I'm also guilty of being a little out of step...
"In this coming season, Democrats must resist going back to using terms like affirmative action, pro choice, union, and 'the movement' to describe what we're for. These words are limited and often open to negative interpretation from the right. But once we agree on a shared vision to connect our progressive social values of faith, family, hard work, loyalty, opportunity, security, and prosperity for all, we will soar again.
"When my grandma would often put us to sleep at night, she read from the Bible. Her favorite scripture from the book of Galatians was, 'Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.' Now more than ever, we must use our faith to fight on until victory is won." - Donna Brazile is chair of the DNC Voting Rights Institute, former campaign manager for Gore 2000, and author.

The comments to this entry are closed.