Friday, November 10, 2006

Back To Basics

Well, it is showing signs of starting: true to form, we Democrats seem about ready to start assembling for the usual circular firing squad. We do this often, and, to some extent, it is natural. While Republican Radicals take it on Faith, we Democrats, as a whole, tend to think and to analyze. As a result, while we all reach the same broad conclusions, we each come to believe that we, and our intellectual allies, have the most finely nuanced version of "the Truth" and, that those who don't possess the same intricate insight are just as doomed to failure as our benighted Republican neighbors.

In other words, we spend a lot of time arguing violently with each other about how many Liberals can dance on the head of a pin.

And, if you trip lightly through the blogosphere this morning, you can see the signs for yourself. Philip Baruth, in Vermont Daily Briefing, rides dramatically to the "Rescue" of Howard Dean, the Party Chairman sprung from the self-named "Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party". I don't begrudge the Governor a little "crowing" about his 50 State Strategy. And I think,(despite my personal doubts about the "DWOTDP") that this "No State Left Behind" policy, as it has been dubbed, worked like a charm.

At the same time, the good folks over at the Democratic Leadership Council, have posted that:
This is a victory for the vital center of American politics over the extremes. In pursuing the Bush-Rove formula over the last six years, Republicans have deliberately abandoned the political center, and invited Democrats to occupy it. If you look at the victorious Democratic candidates in "red" and "purple" states and districts, it's clear that they did. And while Democrats benefited from an energized party base, the key to the victory was in the contested center of the electorate, among moderates, independents, middle-class voters, and suburbanites. These voters could represent an expanded Democratic base, and an enduring progressive majority, if Democrats use their new power wisely.

In defense of their position, the DLC points out that Joe Lieberman, running as an independent, kicked the crap out of the challenger who knocked Joe out in the Democratic primary. Ned Lamont won the Democratic nomination by motivating the "democratic wing of the democratic party", yet the voters of Connecticut as a whole said "NO" and chose the more conservative (yet still Democratic, as it turns out, Lieberman) The implication presumably is that, like Dean, while this wing won in cyberspace, it loses in the real world of a general election.

It seems to me that we must, as a party, take the time between now and the New Year to find out where our BASIC COMMON INTERESTS are, and fight, hard, for those. When he re-forged our modern Democratic Party, Franklin Delano Roosevelt managed to unite disparate wings into a unified center- it is time to look at moving in that direction again.

What are those basic interests?

  • Social Security

  • A Vital Middle Class

  • A Decent Minimum Wage

  • A Less Reckless Military Strategy

  • Rebuilding Our International Relationships

  • A balanced Budget and a Healthy Government

There are even more things we, as Democrats, can agree on. But this is certainly a start to the list.

It is time to dig down to the bedrock of what makes us Democrats and fight on those lines. I don't think I'm engaging in hyperbole when I say that the future of the nation is dependent on our success in finding common ground.


Anonymous said...

Very nicely said. I think you could strengthen your argument even further by outlining, for the less politically inclined, the differences between the 2 main "wings" of the Democratic party.

Anonymous said...

Good thoughts, nicely stated.

One question regarding unity...and media, for that matter. With the widespread use of internet and politicoblogs, there is a diversity of information. Perhaps thankfully, less people rely on network TV for their news. Those Americans that are still literate can get their information from the newspaper.

Now, to the question...will it be harder in our current climate to bring unity when the internet and 77 cable channels allows for the specialization of political causes and interests. Many people that become politcally active do so because of single issues (ie, abortion, AIDS, feeding ducks in parks, etc.). How can we bring these specialists into a broader discussion of our country's direction when they perceive they only have time for one issue.

Alex said...

Good question. Hmmmm. (Listen carefully, and you can hear the rusty gears inside my head cranking.)

Ok...here's a theory...only a theory. We start by learning to be civil with one another and discuss and debate rather than argue and scream.

It's not as much fun- but if we stop behaving like medieval scholastics- arguing obscure points with poisoned pens- and make a real effort to understand those people that we, at least nominally, agree with we will be stronger.

By working to achieve a consensus within our party- we can perhaps also begin to build a "buzz" about those issues that are most important- from ducks to AIDS- and people for whom ducks or AIDS is not the issue will begin to see how it does affect them after all.

I honestly think that part of the problem with the "Blog-o-sphere" is that we all want to be stars (yes, me too, or why would I feel compelled to publish my "thoughts" in a world already full of noise?). We've always known we were almost as good as Stephen Colbert, and we've just been handed our own television studio. So we yell and scream and rant and rave to get attention and get heard.

It's time to start to listen, too.

What do you think? Too Pollyanna?

Anonymous said...

A good point. This does, of course, assume a few things about human nature... The altruistic streak somehow built into the DNA of humans tends to run a little thicker in democrats (if everyone thought about things like me, everyone would be fine, so share, kum-by-ya) than republicans (we can't all be rich, so tough beans), but that is what we need to build on. Too often, though I find that trying to build consensus through what-this-means-for-you-personally approach tends to find me atop a rationalization that feels alright to me but probably looks like a house of cards to alot of other people.

Also, consensus is great to work at, but it does take work. It is a good example the party should set for ourselves and the country, but I find it hard to expect the average person to invest the time and energy into learning enough about the options to have an informed opinion on a consensus-type level.

Perhaps the Fantasy Congress movement will stir some more interest (http://www.fantasycongress.org/fc/).

Alex said...

Well, it's mostly amoung party types and those disposed to think about such things that I'm aiming.

Doing what I'm suggesting would aim for the lowest common denominator, I know, but it would serve the purpose of making sure that we HAD that denominator firmly in place.

Once we had a few basic things done, who knows where we would be inspired to go from there?