In this state-of-the-Dems article, there’s a lot of deserved back-patting and strutting among Democrats, about standing firm in the face of the Republican onslaught against things that make life less miserable, like Social Security. But here’s some truth from the other side:
Brian Jones, the Republican National Committee’s communicationsdirector, said Democrats’ strategy of obstruction is emblematic of whythey have suffered in recent elections. The Democratic Party, he said,has not been able to communicate its vision effectively to voters, andnow finds itself declaring victories when it slows or stops Republicans– not when it achieves things for the American people, Jones said.
”They’re mistaking their obstructionism for progress," he said.”They’ve become completely reactive, and essentially devoid of newideas. It may be a cathartic exercise, given their lack of success inrecent elections, but ultimately it’s going to be a losing strategy."
Thanks for that, Mr. Jones, but I might replace "going to be a losing strategy" with "continues to be a losing strategy".
The Democrats are starting — just starting, mind you — to put together an agenda of stuff they’d like to see happen:
That list includes items such as affordable healthcare, opportunitiesfor children to attend universities, accountability in government, andmaking sure troops go into combat with the equipment they need — allareas where Bush and his fellow Republicans have potential politicalvulnerability.
Well, that’s all decent, but doesn’t really answer the questions: What kind of country do you want? What kind of life do you imagine living in it? How does your dream-country act in the world at large? We’re a little lacking in the vision thing these days. It’s understandable, considering how badly we’ve been getting our butts kicked for the last 35 years — as a party, we’ve been defining our expectations downward for a long time now. When we couldn’t do vision anymore (post-Vietnam, JFK, RFK, and MLK), we settled for integrity (Jimmy Carter). When we didn’t have that anymore, we settled for power ("triangulation"). Now we have none of the above, so we’re settling for unity. Pardon me for thinking that feels a little bit hollow.
But look at the conservative grassroots base, AKA the religious right: You can’t say they’re not aggressively outlining a vision of the kind of country they want. But I have to imagine that a society based on compassion, enlightened self-interest, and functional institutions is a more attractive vision than one based on hierarchical power, doctrinal rigidity, and the hope for an imminent Apocalypse. Can we get 51% to vote with us on the former? I hope so.
Fairly soon I’ll write about "the vision thing" with regard to our Governor’s race. In the meantime, I’m pondering the question: What do we want?