I sent this message to the Democratic Party of Georgia (DPG) today:
Back in Augusta I promised to send a letter to Jeana Brown,
GA-1 chair for DPG, as input to DPG thought processes.
This message is an overview, which I will follow up
over time with several messages focussed on specific aspects.
It's good to see the DPG facebook page has values right up front: honest leadership, open government, jobs, education, everyone, dignity, security, "policies that benefit everyone--not just the most fortunate Georgians."
Now can we see those values right up front in every message from DPG?
"...you don't lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance."
Merely reacting to Republicans does nothing but re-inforce their talking points, no matter how good the rebuttal is. Sure, you can get the occassional press by whacking Gingrich when he's down, but really that only gives Gingrich more press.
If anyone in DPG hasn't read George Lakoff's book, Don't Think of an Elephant! about how framing is at least as important as content, now's the time to do so. Reacting to Republicans is accepting their framing. What that means is: Democrats don't get heard.
Are we the party of inclusion, the party that works for everyone, the party of MLK and FDR? If so, let's say so, all the time!
The most popular real proposals before the American people are:
67% Raise Social Security contribution cap
66% Raise income tax for incomes over $250,000
65% Reduce military commitments overseas
62% Limit tax deductions for large corporations
Two thirds of the American people want more than anything else four issues that fit core Democratic values and should be core Democratic issues!
The people are ready for leadership on real American values:
"There is a great populist reformist majority in America. The realignment of the electorate has already occurred but remains untapped by politicians and ignored by media. The issues that drive this populist majority create powerful opportunities for House Democrats, as well as all state and national Democrats in 2012."
To be concrete enough to make clear what I'm talking about, here's an example.
DPG recently did PR congratulating the gay legislator who came out in the Georgia House. Great! But the reader had to trawl down to the fifth paragraph to even find out what it was the legislator had announced, and there was nothing about why DPG was in favor of it. It could have begun:
"The party of inclusion, the Democratic Party of Georgia...."
And it could have ended:
"DPG congratulates Rep. Rashad Taylor for standing up for who he is. We look forward to formation of a gay caucus in the Georgia House to stand beside the Latino caucus and the Black caucus, as part of the Democratic caucus for the people of Georgia."
There is an opportunity right now, today, to congratulate New York State for legalizing gay marriage, saying that DPG as the party of inclusion looks forward to the same happening in Georgia!
Here's an opportunity: the anti-immigrant law, HB 87. When even the Valdosta Daily Times covers favorably Latino demonstrations against that bill, we have a great opportunity to stand up for Democratic values!
But the opportunity is bigger than that. Everybody from VDT to politico to the Atlantic has picked up on HB 87 causing south Georgia farmers from Vidalia to Valdosta to lose crops. You want rural Democrats to come out of the closet? Here's an issue!
Yet the opportunity is bigger than that. Look at what HB 87 has riddled all through it: new crimes with punishments of imprisonment. All lobbied for by reactionary lobbyist firm ALEC and private prison company CCA. To benefit CCA, which runs ICE's North Georgia Detention Center, and is building private prisons throughout Georgia, while the state is cutting funds for education. Does DPG stand against corruption and greed and for open government and education? If so, let's hear it!
Still the opportunity is bigger than that. Jimmy Carter summarized the grass-roots-to-world-leader groundswell movement to end drug prohibition,
"Call off the Global Drug War":
It's the drug war that fills our prisons
(mostly with young black men),
that kills people south of the border
(and drives them here as illegal immigrants), and
that enriches CCA at the expense of our farmers.
Are we the party of Jimmy Carter? How about we get with him on this!
Anybody who says Jimmy Carter is divisive, remember Ronald Reagan was more divisive, until Republicans a decade later played up everything positive they could find about him and turned him into Saint Ronnie. Jimmy Carter was right in the 1970s about getting off of foreign oil and onto solar power, and he's right today about calling off the drug war. Will DPG back a true Democratic leader?
Is DPG for connecting civil rights for Latinos with civil rights for blacks and with livelihoods of farmers throughout rural Georgia? Here's an opportunity to connect the rural constituency of Herman Talmadge with the constituency of MLK. Here's an opportunity to come out and lead!
Here's another opportunity: solar power in Georgia. Republicans on the Public Service Commission are about to push Georgia Power into doing more to pull Georgia up from behind in the fastest growing industry in the world: solar power. A recent study by Arizona State University says that Georgia is the third top state that could benefit the most by generating solar electricity, yet Georgia lags behind not only North Carolina and Florida, but New Jersey, hundreds of miles to the cloudy north!
Republican PSC member Tim Echols spells it out:
"It wasn’t until I entered the training room of Mage Solar in Dublin and saw 40 subcontractors in their solar academy that I got it. The growing solar industry is not just about funky collectors on a roof or left-leaning environmentalists who hate fossil fuel. It is about skilled jobs in manufacturing and construction, about economic development in Georgia, about consumers saving money on their power bill so they can spend it somewhere else, and about empowering people to essentially create their own power plant. This could eventually be big."
It is big right now in North Carolina, where after a bit of constituency building 91% of NC voters want solar power:
What else do you know gets 91% support of any electorate? Sure, Georgia is not quite there yet, but what say we help the people of Georgia get there! What an opportunity for constituency building on an issue that appeals to all parties, ages, races, and genders!
Is not DPG for skilled jobs and economic development, for everyone saving money, for empowering people? Should not we left-leaning environmentalists be leading this bandwagon, not waiting for Republicans to jump on board and take the reins?
Some may say we must be cautious, not rock the boat, not be too radical for Georgia. Look where that got us: not a single statewide Democratic candidate elected last year.
Some say "but we had unified messaging last year!" I'm not talking about messaging. I'm talking about Democratic core values, without which there is no message. Maybe it's time to stand up for who we are.
Mike Berlon rightly applauded Democrat Dan Matthews for forcing GA House 113 into a runoff.
The Republican admitted, in a 2/3 Republican district:
"The last thing we can do is get complacent. Low turnout today. Most likely low turnout four weeks from now."
"We had to run an unorthodox campaign. We’re grassroots. We didn’t get any big corporate contributions. I’m not beholden to the special interests."
Look at what he supported:
"Georgia Equality states that if Matthews, a Democrat, was to win he would vote in favor of the the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Bill introduced in the last session by openly gay state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates). The bill seeks to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the nondiscrimination policy for state employees...."
He stood up for inclusion and civil rights and he forced a runoff! Into a general election that his opponent admits the Democrat could win through turnout.
Here's an issue that can attract even any Republicans with a conscience. To quote blue-collar Republican New York Senator Roy McDonald as he came out for gay marriage:
"You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that.
Well, fuck it, I don't care what you think.
I'm trying to do the right thing."
Why did Democrats wait for a Republican to say that?
How about DPG come out and say:
"I'm sorry if you think we're too left-leaning, honey!
Well, bless your little hearts.
We're for doing the right thing!"
Some say we should be cautious and react.
Why should disillusioned Republicans vote for shadows of Republicans?
Why should Independents turn to timid leaders?
Why should real Democrats turn out for Democrats who won't stand up
for Democratic core values?
Are we the agricultural party of Herman Talmadge?
Are we the civil rights party of MLK?
Are we the energy independence party of Jimmy Carter?
Are we the big tent winning party of FDR?
I do think we can turn voters out to win by standing up
for Democratic core values!
Let me conclude by quoting Eric Gray's facebook status of today:
"All folks are equal. y'all."
Now that's a core value and a message all in one!
Let's see more of that!
Speaking for nobody but myself,
and hoping DPG can say these
things better than I can.
See you this evening at JJ.