I have doubts about Tim Roemer. To me, he seems like a hired gun who would work for either Rove or Dean. There are plenty of local conservative Democrats in any given red state who could be much more effective than Roemer at recruiting new people into the party because of the simple fact they people know who they are. I suggest people will look at Roemer and think he's a phony whereas they might listen if it was a local or regional person who understands the local issues.
I think Dean should have done this under the radar. That way, the SCLM can't harp on how we must move right or lose again in 2006.
However, I understand completely why Dean is doing what he is doing. He is swinging for the fences. He is building a party with core liberal values, but one in which people with minority views, such as pro-life people, will feel welcome.
I would like to see this party have a core set of values based on civil liberties: The right to choose, gay rights, an end to the Patriot Act, religious tolerance, the right to a fair trial, etc.
I would like to see health insurance for all, Social Security preserved, an plan to end the Iraq war, fair taxation, union-friendly policies, a fair minimum wage, sound economic policies, judges who respect the Constitution, and anything else the Democratic Party has become known for that I forgot.
These are core values of the Democratic party and I would flame any attempts to change the Party platform.
But how far must we go to enforce ideological purity? The problem with that approach is that it ignores the facts of human nature.
Human nature states that it is impossible to pigenhole every single voter into one category or the other. There are just as many sets of beliefs in this country as there are people, and no two are exactly alike. That is a fact that the Republicans are ignoring and the reason why they are imploding.
I would like to see a party of diverse views. I would like to see a party with a core progressive platform, but one in which persons with minority views are welcome. I would like to see a party in which everyone from pacifists and tree-huggers on the left to moralistic conservatives appalled by the rampant corruption in the Republican Party on the right feel welcome.
Keep in mind that my position is different from the DLC and Joe Lieberman. The DLC would marginalize Michael Moore and everyone on the left; my position is that we should welcome and invite such people into the party. In fact, this is such a vast difference that I have called them Bush-lite for not recognizing that we need the left at least as much as we need the right.
This is the challenge: There are many different one-issue voters out there. The challenge is to win over people like liberal Catholics who voted for Bush because of the abortion issue, anti-tax people concerned about civil liberties, or libertarians who vote for the candidate who advocates limited government. We need to find a way to convince people like that they are still welcome in the party despite their minority views.
I don't think we should fear bringing people of different views into the party. Doing so will bring fresh blood into the party, sharpen our own minds, strengthen our own views, and convince them that we're right if we arm ourselves with facts and win them over.
I believe in a simple two-part litmus test which would encourage diversity while allowing us to draw clear distinctions between us and the Republicans. The first involves our core beliefs; the second involves our ability to articulate where we stand.
Given the fact that the GOP is eroding our freedoms and attacking our Constitution, I am borrowing a page out of Orwell's playbook and restating everything obvious that we have all taken for granted:
- A true Democrat subscribes to the Constitution of the United States;
- A true Democrat is fact-based; s/he does not use factual errors in an effort to win at all costs;
- A true Democrat is loyal to the party and does not attack fellow Democrats or exclude them from the party unless they fail to live up to these principles. There is no negotiation with Republicans on any of these principles;
- A true Democrat respects differences of opinion and treats other Democrats as equals while vigorously defending his or her own views. A marketplace of ideas is essential to a strong and healthy party;
- A true Democrat plays by the rules, does not violate laws, or engage in conflicts of interest. However, a true Democrat does not question the ethical behavior of other Democrats without clear and convincing evidence;
- A true Democrat believes in open government; secrecy in government is the first step to corruption;
- A true Democrat puts the people first. This means being open and honest about where s/he stands and actively soliciting opinions and advice from constituents.
The second part involves being able to articulate your values. The failure to do so by the Democrats cost them the elections of 2000 and 2002 and allowed Ralph Nader to convince millions of voters that the Democrats and Republicans were all alike. This test is very simple:
- Why I am a Democrat;
- Why I am not a Republican;
- If I have minority views (e.g. pro-life), why I still feel welcome in the Democratic party and why you would as well.
If a Democrat fails to meet one or more of these, I would consider them Bush-lite at least; at worst, like Miller and Lieberman, I would not consider them true Democrats at all.