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Rally Here! (Continued)

After every battle the defeated are in retreat. This is a critical time when cool heads matter. The tendency is to run off in all directions, but the correct response is to find a defensible point and rally.

I had to break this into two parts because the Kos server thought it was a one-line story. Please go back and read Part 1 first.

(Continued from Part 1)

Environmental Responsibility and the Future

Democrats must confront this administration on abuse of the environment. The way to get this across is a simple statement: We will not approve any Bush appointee for any office (including Supreme Court) until Bush has removed from the Interior Department anyone who has ever worked for, directly or indirectly, the coal companies, the oil companies, the lumber industry, the paper industry or any other extractive industry company or interest group.

This is a way to burn two bricks with one bridge. (Did I mix metaphors?) It highlights the ongoing abuse of the environment by the Bush Administration and it blocks any nominee until the Republicans come to reason and start to negotiate with the Democrats on more equal terms. It restores somewhat the balance of power, while at the same time bringing to a screeching halt one of the worst abuses of the Bush crowd.

The environment is the entire basis for the future. How does George Bush explain to his kids how he's taking away their most precious inheritance? What kind of future are they going to have? (Oh, I get it. They're going to be rich, so they don't care. I wonder if either of them will shockingly turn out to have a conscience.)

The environment is a moral issue. It's high time that the Democrats beat the Republicans over the head with a good moral issue. This is a fight that the Democrats must wage in the Senate and they must stick to their guns. It's an issue they can and will win.

Social Responsibility

That brings us to social responsibility. It is abundantly clear from this election that the electorate is woefully uninformed about such things as civil rights. They voted for a guy who says we absolutely need PATRIOT Act II. This must be addressed forthwith.

Democrats in the Senate should insist that any nominee to the courts be liberal on their interpretation of the Constitution and laws. In other words, they should give the law a fair reading, one that takes both pillars of justice into account.

A good test of whether a prospective jurist is going to be fair is how they treat partial birth abortion. Do they have the proper respect for the health needs and feelings of the mother? If they don't believe that the mother's rights, as a fully grown and functional adult human, supersede those of the fetus, they should not be on any court.

Is this a litmus test? Yes, and every prospective jurist should be able to pass this kind of litmus test. If they can't look at the human side of the equation, they will lean too heavily on the pillar of severity and that does not serve justice in America.

But there's a deeper problem. Why would any citizen have problems voting? And clearly they have. In tests done by the media, many people couldn't properly mark their ballots.

This can only occur through deficiencies in the educational system. Our schools need to teach the rudiments of being a citizen. The Democrats must insist that part of "No Child Left Behind" be a program of "No Citizen Left Behind." In other words, a requirement for high school graduation must be that you can list the rights enumerated in the Constitution and correctly express what they mean at a personal level. You must be able to successfully mark a ballot. You must understand the duties of serving on a jury. You must be able to look at a voter information pamphlet and correctly understand the meanings of the arguments. In short, school must prepare you to be a citizen.

In order to do that, schools must also teach reasoning and logic. To graduate, you should be able to formulate and understand a logical argument. You should be able to understand the scientific principle and apply it to a theory. You should be able to spot logical fallacies, like the argument from design, and reject them. You should understand how science relates to technology which relates to increases in the standard of living. You should be able to see how population growth works against that to decrease our standard of living.

Unless our citizens can do these things, they can't run a functioning democracy. And as Democrats we should promote functioning democracy, not just the dumb sort.

Summary

I've listed four areas of responsibility that must be addressed in this country for us to go forward. We can skate on these only at our peril. We've sort of gotten along without liberalism for the past twenty or thirty years, but look where it's gotten us? Do you like where it's gotten us? I don't.

Ever since the Democrats started to mumble the word "liberal" they've been taking it in the shorts. Now it looks like all the mimsy Democrats have been blown away by the Bush wind. I hope the ones that are left have the balls to turn this around.

The Senate is the last bastion left to the forces of good. The orcs are at the gates and we're busy burying the dead. But we've got to rally round the liberal standard planted on the Senate floor.

When you, Senators, get there, take a look around you and find that standard. Align yourselves with it. Salute it. Then give it your all. You will find it hanging there, red, white and blue, with stars and stripes, its folds reminding you of the complex fabric of society. At the moment you see it you will know your calling.

Originally posted to Liberal Thinking on Wed Nov 03, 2004 at 12:13 PM PST.

Poll

Should the Democrats stand up an fight?

87%21 votes
4%1 votes
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| 24 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Amen (none)
    In the 60's the dems began to show some liberal colors.  We need to show the difference between us and them.

    The dems have become the weaker sister to the repubs.  Our strength is really in the differences.  We need more candidates like Obama.  Dems are in all honestly more moral and have better values than pubs, but somehow, we haven't shown that.  

    Think for a moment about the difference in just the area of environmental aspects.  Why didn't those differences even get talked about?  To me, we should have been beating them over the head with all the ways the repubs are fucking us with their shitty repub stewardship of any and everything concerning the environment.  And that's just one small part of the big picture.

    •  Making a Difference (none)
      The value is in the difference. If you are exactly the same as someone else, one of you isn't necessary.

      We need to show that we are different and give the voters a real choice. But to do that, we'll have to fix some problems with our own party, especially related to campaign finance.

      Liberal Thinking

      Think, liberally.

      by Liberal Thinking on Wed Nov 03, 2004 at 12:45:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (none)
        it's no surprise I suppose that people would vote for the "real deal" in the pubs since they seem to have the corner on a lot of markets (values, terrorism, taxes etc).

        As for finacing, seems to me this election showed the dems that (if nothing else) we the people could actually mount a fairly effective grassroots money machine.  It's in the other areas we failed to be effective.  Again, it seems to be rooted in the percieved shame to be called a "liberal".  To me, John and John didn't seem to be too liberal.  Maybe that was the real problem.

        •  A Good Point (none)
          That's a good point. They didn't seem too liberal to me, either. They just seemed like normal, thoughful folks who cared about others. Of course, that would make them liberals!

          Thanks for the comments!

          Liberal Thinking

          Think, liberally.

          by Liberal Thinking on Wed Nov 03, 2004 at 07:52:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Value is in the Difference but... (none)
        ...the American people need to understand that difference.  The best way I can think of that is to take back ownership of our own self-definition.  The Republicans can distill it into a catchy sound-byte.  For every term we use, they have a negative spin response.  And it's worked.  Even as a nearly-lifelong liberal (I don't know what I believed before I was 7 and Carter was ousted by Reagan), when I saw "Tax" in your proposition, I immediately thought (and it was kneejerk, but still there) "government bloat" and thought "they'll never sell that to Joe America."  The Republicans will put a spin on it and make sure the public thinks that any tax increase will directly dip into their pockets, even if it doesn't in reality.  They'll see "tax" and think "not my money."  Find another way to say it.

        So we need to reframe.  Redefine.  Take a page from the media and learn how to soundbyte it so people understand that not only are we offering them an alternative message, but what that message is.  Then we have to make soundbytes that smack down all the Republican objections to our policies.  Turn them into "regressives" and us into "progressives."  Put them on the defensive.  Call their social policies what they are--policies based on telling people "you can't."  Counter them with a "we must."  

        We've got nothing much to lose at this point.  Playing the middle has steadily lost us ground.  We're still leftist to them, and as a result, we let the middle actually move right.

        The Responsibility platform is a great idea.  Let's take back the ability to define ourselves, rather than having to always defend ourselves.

  •  We keep losing as Repug lite (none)
    In election after election, we keep losing when we try to pretend we're not liberal.  Time for something new.
    •  the future (none)
      Exactly, it's about taking the country in a new direction, away from evangelical conservatism.  We can't make a case for progressive values with a mild conservative attitude and a wink.  The country needs to understand the differences. and be moved; it needs to believe in the person running.  Democratic leadership needs to clearly define and challenge the endemic extremist philosophy that has hijacked the country.
  •  Mixed response to your post (none)
    I agree with you very much on the environmental stuff and the need to take back the Senate.  All in all, this is a very well-voiced plan.

    Here are my two critiques:

    1. Where do you figure that "the Senate is the last bastion of the forces of good"?  We got trounced far worse in the Senate than we did in the House.  I'd say that Western Governorships are the last bastion of the forces of good, not the Senate.

    2. I think a better idea of campaign financing is what we do in Arizona: require participating candidates to raise a certain number of $5 donations and then give them either a flat amount to spend or, if their opponents opt out and raise more money, match these totals dollar-for-dollar.  We raise the money from a 10% surcharge on parking tickets and DUI fines, and it easily covers the numbers we're talking about.  Haven't had a problem with it yet.

    Just my two cents.  Kudos to you for putting so much thought into this.

    I like Paul Babbitt. After you read this, so will you.

    by Nonpartisan on Wed Nov 03, 2004 at 10:56:37 PM PST

    •  Good Idea (none)
      The Arizona system seems like a good idea. I suggested that we tax the campaign ads because it adjusts the amount of money taken in to the interest in the campaign. If people want to spend, say $4M on a Senate race, then even a 10% tax would raise another $400K to give others a chance to put up sensible arguments. In a $100K campaign, it would raise less, but still an amount proportional to the interest in that election. Also, it makes it more expensive for corporations (and unions) to put up ads, so it automatically tones down the rhetoric. I'm certainly open to other options, though.

      As for the "last bastion", I agree that the govenorships are important. But in practical terms of stopping Bush and the ultraconservatives from getting their agenda through (which was why they wanted to keep all three branches of government to themselves), the filibuster rules in the Senate are the only way to prevent that from happening. That's where the battle will be.

      Thanks for the response!

      Liberal Thinking

      Think, liberally.

      by Liberal Thinking on Thu Nov 04, 2004 at 10:00:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Simple and Eloquent (none)
    Well done.  In the blitz of post election analysis, I've read many references to needing a clear simple message to win, and I think your plan espouses that nicely.  Well thought out.

    Constructive criticism: the neocons (who are essentially the puppet masters of the fundamentalists) would take some of the language and spin it as socialism and godless and keep the fervent right fearful.  

    I appreciate reading your insights, keep writing!

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