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So I got a message today from Dean for America, asking me to participate in a random survey, conducted by the Pew Center, of people who had been involved in the Dean campaign.  I followed the link provided, and started answering the questions.  They were fairly predictable -- Who would you like to see run in 2008?  What do you think accounted for Kerry's loss and Bush's victory?  But then I got to question #15:
Which of the following best describes what you would like to see happen with the Democratic Party?

 o Remain more or less the same
 o Change to reflect more centrist positions
 o Change to reflect more progressive/liberal positions
 o Die off and be replaced by an entirely new political party (or parties)

This question so annoyed me that I had to send a message to Dean for America:

I began taking this survey, but when I reached question 15, I was utterly confounded and frustrated.  None of the answers are any good. ...

My response is that I would not like to see any of these things happen!

The fact that you did not include what I would like to see happen demonstrates, to me, the very serious problem that is at the heart of the current Democratic Party.  Let me explain.

I would not like to see the party remaining the same -- that is clearly not going to win us any more elections.

I would not like to see the party become more centrist.  We have already moved quite far to the right.  Our problem is not that we are too liberal.

Nor would I like to see the party become more liberal.  We need a coalition of both centrists and progressives -- a big tent.

And I would certainly not like to see the party die off!  

Here is what I would like to see: a party that STANDS UP FOR ITSELF.

This is not a matter of "moving left" or "moving right".  It is a matter of being ASSERTIVE.

Again and again, I see party leaders giving ground to the Republicans on issue after issue.  I see Democrats seeking "compromise" with Republicans.  And in return, Republicans, when given an inch, take a mile.  Republicans do not compromise, they do not give ground, they do not play the bipartisan game.

The Republican party got where it is today by being aggressive and uncompromising.  And yet, when Democrats like Howard Dean -- who is not an ultra-liberal, but a pragmatic centrist on issues like gun control, fiscal responsibility, and gay rights -- stand up and suggest that we do the same, they are scolded by party leaders for being "too liberal".

Democratic leaders are confusing assertiveness with "liberalism", and appeasement with "centrism".  They think that appeasing the Republicans will somehow have a different result than it has had for the past 12 years -- 12 years in which the Republicans have taken control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, and are continually increasing their margins in each election.

We don't have to become more liberal or more centrist.  But we MUST stop appeasing and compromising.  We must defend our common values -- which are values shared by the majority of Americans -- loudly and proudly.

The current Democratic leadership is so clueless about this.  They keep appeasing, and they keep losing elections.  When will they recognize that appeasement of the radical, aggressive, uncompromising GOP is a losing strategy, not a winning one?

The Republicans are playing hardball.  They recognize that Americans respect those who are sure of their convictions, more than those whose message is muddled and timid.  

What I am talking about is Democrats standing up and being MORE PARTISAN.  The Republicans have made huge gains by being extremely partisan.  We are losing by trying to be bipartisan.  They consider bipartisanship to be "a form of date rape," in the words of Grover Norquist.  I for one do not want to see my party being raped!  Let's FIGHT BACK for a change.

As I said, I do not want to see the Democratic party die off and be replaced.  But the current Dem. leadership has their heads so deep in the sand, that in a sense, we do need the party to die and be reborn.  So I am going to choose the fourth option on question 15.

Originally posted to Geheimbundler on Thu Nov 18, 2004 at 09:26 AM PST.

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