In my view, as far as short term battles go...as far as what it takes to fight back against the GOP machine in 2005 we need every single fightin' Democrat we can get.
I've said before that we need a new hybrid tactics when it comes to how we fight our battles. That applies here. When we look out to the broad playing field of Democrats, in the short term, the single most important characteristic to judge someone on is whether they will fight for our party and help us retake legislative majorities in the legislatures of this nation by fighting for our constituencies.
I don't care if you're liberal or progressive, and vote for everything I support...if you can't get out there, stick your neck out and pitch in to our common fight, then, sad to say, we don't need you.
What does this mean in pragmatic terms? Well, for one, it means that in 2005 we are going to have to come up with a set of judgements about how our candidates are doing....and be prepared to run primary challenges in 2006 against those who are simply "phoning it in."
Phone-it-in Democrats no longer cut it, and need to be told so...and that is the dominant message the activist wing of the party needs to send. (not ideological purity...not litmus test issues...not "we can help you with the internet"...fight in spirit and in deeds is our demand.)
And, I think one thing is clear to me now, that wasn't two weeks ago. When you get right down to it...if you can't fight for election reform, you are not a fighting democrat.
As we get more locked into the vote counting and recounting process and the case for "election reform" gets sorted out from the case for claiming that the "election results" were rigged...it becomes crystal clear to me that you cannot be a fighting Democrat if you don't express outrage at how the last two Presidential elections were conducted:
- from the voter suppression efforts in Democratic districts by GOP challenges that should be made illegal...the GOP admitted in Florida that the challenges were a 'feint' to scare voters and make the Dems spend money on lawyers...true.
- to the inexcusable long lines largely in Democratic districts that are a disgrace to our nation
- to the paid RNC operatives who broke the law in Nevada and South Dakota and perhaps elsewhere
- to the use of flawed felon rolls to intimidate wide swaths of voters from voting
- to the use of "citizenship" challenges to intimidate immigrant voters from voting
- to the fact that HAVA did not create the perception of a fair and impartial election this year and the machines whose use it engendered are currently unworthy instruments upon which American citizens should be asked to vote
- and the fact that HAVA failed in it's main goal: creating a properly run election worthy of the citizens of the United States. We need to have same day registration, driver's license registration, and early voting in every state in the Union...and Federal funding and oversight to make sure that election day runs smoothly for every single American citizen.
And the broader case:
- that the Bush/Cheney campaign engaged in a widespread, divisive campaign of lies, distortions, and personal attacks on John Kerry and the Democrats unbecoming our nation's values. Calling Kerry a "Massachusetts liberal" should be held up for scorn....President Bush, you are President of Massachusetts too! Does that mean you don't represent the Blue states, Mr. President?
- that Bush/Cheney surrogates outright smeared our candidate's Viet Nam service and his wounds in combat and GOP sympathiser media networks sought to tilt the coverage of this election: from Sinclair's documentary...to Fox's biased coverage of the DNC.
- that the GOP has distorted fair legislative process with gerrymandered districts and off year redistricting whose only purpose is a bald grab for power in Congress.
- we Democrats MUST begin fighting the inequities in our system that rig the govenmental and tax system so that cities, including Washington D.C. are underrepresented, overtaxed and underfunded. We are American citizens too....our votes count too, our money counts too. And 56 million voters deserve more than what we're currently getting from D.C.
If we can't fight on these fronts, if we can't make these claims loudly, clearly and repeatedly then we don't deserve to call ourselves a "fighting party."...to be real, not even a party at all.
Now, the fight must be broader than that. We need to define our core constituency, we need to define our core values and issues, we need to draw a new map and fight for votes in every state and region. And I've highlighted what I think of that in previous diaries like the face of the Democratic Party and drawing a new Map, defining a new DNC....
In a nutshell, we need to be ideologically flexible, hybrid fighting Democrats over the next six years as we fight to win back legislative majorities in States Houses and in D.C. and at the same time we on the left need to look beyond that.
We need to redefine our ideological core.
We need to define a new ideological core for the Democratic Party that we work on over our lifetimes, and we need to do this by looking back to our roots and innovating forward. We need to have big goals that we start working on now, knowing that we will not achieve them anytime soon, but that they represent the core values we want to emanate from our new Democratic Party.
In my view the central core of this ideology needs to be a marrying of three things:
- the environment
- the economy
Around a core set of values:
We need to begin to work out the structure of a "new" New Deal
....one that looks at how education and the environment are linked to our economy. How green technology...and building a workforce educated in how to capitalize on it, is what will make our economy strong for the next century on the premise of respecting the earth and educating every citizen with the skills for success in that century. The Democrats, the "red" party of Labor, and Labor itself, must become
more Green, more hi-tech, more future looking and internationalist. We know that to do this the people must take back the planet and our government from the corporations...and to do that we must be the party that invents
the process by which that happens successfully through the marriage of education, the environment and the economy.
And, at the same time, we need to do that in ways that make the Democratic party the party that is truly "pro-prosperity", "pro-innovation", "pro-fiscal responsibility", "pro-trade", "pro-development" and "pro worker." We can do this if we put our minds to it....and we must.
We need to aspire to a "Greater Great Society"...one in which the dignity and potential of every citizen is respected and protected from childhood to old age. We need to redefine, as we become a society in which the old will be increasingly old and the young increasingly diverse that we are the party that can bring everyone together at the same table and work things out. We need to finally, and once and for all, be the party that reforms health care....through innovation and cooperation and building a coalition of the old and young to work for everyone's best interest. And, I think, we need to be the party that incorporates some form of "national service" into the educational program of the United States, whether voluntary or not....we Democrats need to win back the mantle of patriotism with a proposal for national service that works...bringing equity to military service and broadening, once and for all, the concept of "service to country" beyond the act of taking up a gun to defend it.
We need to ring the bell of a new Civil Rights. A stronger, broader, more inclusive vision than our nation has dared before. And we need to find a way to have the religious and the devoted sit down with the secular and the humanist and carve out an innovative new legal framwork so that every citizen born in the United States can expect equal treament under the laws of this nation in all 50 states...and that every citizen of this planet might know that the United States will carry itself by legal and moral codes in our foreign and domestic policies that live up the moral fabric of our national ideals.
We need to reinvent the aspiration and the dream that began in the 1960's..when Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy laid out the best of what America might be...and take that and put it right at the core of our Democratic Party so that everyone will know exactly what it means to be a Democrat...and how that is different from the corporate friendly, anti-environment, rust belt, old school GOP path of division and discord.
So, yeah, there's alot to fight for. And the fight has just begun.
In the short term, there will be Democrats who don't share this vision....but we'll support them if they are fighting Democrats...
we know, however, what direction our vision leads and what the framework and foundation of the Party reform we are undertaking must support.
If equality and justice and community are not at the heart of this new Party...if we cannot innovate a new platform that brings the environment, education and the economy together....than why should we put our political lives behind something that can only be:
the same old, same old???
Nope, it's time for reform and a new vision. Agree or disagree on the particulars, I think you can agree:
we fighting Democrats have got work to do.
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