Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Democrat Silver Linings?

Whenever a sports team loses a game, the coaching staff usually reviews the events that led to defeat. The Democrats lost the election for the presidency as well as gave up more seats in the Senate and House of Representatives. This was almost an instant replay of 2000. For a sports coach it is like losing two straight close scoring games to the same team. For the coach it means that some changes need to be made, as well the Democrats have some soul searching to do. When you include the mid-term election defeats by Democrats you might call this an extended losing streak.

As we sit today, the Democrats are virtually leaderless. John Kerry returns to the Senate after running a decent race but is highly unlikely to be the 2008 candidate, he had his run. John Edwards is out of politics for now. Tom Daschle the Democrat minority leader in the Senate is probably done with a political career after losing his campiagn. Dick Gephardt retired after losing in the Democratic primary. There were Democrats hoping for positions in a Kerry Administration, like Wesley Clark or Howard Dean that are still sitting on the sidelines. Along with having Edwards as Vice President, Gephardt and campaign losers like Daschle would have had their careers saved by a Kerry win, ala John Ashcroft and Spencer Abraham as Bush appointees in 2000.

The Democrats will be looking at the senators and governors around the country to find new leaders to emerge to fill the open void. But it will take new ideas or new approaches to good old ideas to match up with this new leadership. It is time to think outside the proverbial box.

As I've complained ad nauseum the country has turned to the right and that has much to do with the Democratic Party succumbing to a corporate agenda in almost a copycat of the Republicans. The Democrats will continue to lose trying to out-republican the Republicans. The must return to the left. They must become progressive. They must stand up and be proud of the word liberal. Instead of cowering at the label of liberal everytime the conservatives spit the word out, Democrats must embrace it.

But they must as well redefine the liberal agenda by rejecting the corporate wallpapering of the party. Democrats can't have a heart and soul by imitating Republicans. They must understand that their true base of the working class is still waiting for the party to be proud of them and to truly defend them.

There is still a middle in this country that ultimately votes Republican over Republican-lite because they don't understand what the leaders of the Democratic Party are trying to message them with. The Democratic ideals seem to be something like "we're not as bad as Republicans." It feels so weak, instead they must have a theme of "we stand for what's right, no matter what!" and then deliver the ideas that will attract the people back to the party.

Let's try some thoughts. "We can't stomach the corporate domination of our society anymore and the greed of white collar crime must be attacked." Or how about, "We don't attack countries that are not a true threat to our nation, that is international bullyism."

The conservatives have taken on the long term battle on banning abortion as a civil right and a moral issue. Can't the Democrats make the same commitment to gay and lesbian marraige? Why are they defensive about an equality issue? The conservatives have gained little in their abortion battle over the last decade or so, the Democrats have to expect little progress for gay marraige in the short term, but perserverence and vocal support for the issue is a outwardly positive message.

In the coming days and weeks I plan to speak much more on this subject. I'm a progressive and proud of it and I want to be proud of a party that is committed to many of my ideals. If the Democrats can't see my (and other progressives) writings on the wall (and the web) the party is in trouble and may face a sort of purging of Republican-lites or defections to the Green Party. The Democratic Party is truly at a crossroads and they must choose a new path or possibly over time become like the Whigs and fall apart.

There are silver linings in this years loss. It is the time for reaching for new ideas that are in the basics of the old progressive ideas. The coach of the losing team finds the silver linings of a better game plan out of the previous defeats.


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