Friday, November 05, 2004

Do we really lack a message?

Lots of soul-searching among liberals has led to criticism that the Democratic party has no message. I agree that the message seems not to be getting across to the American people, but I think that's a failure of communication, not identity. This comment from The Poor Man seems right to me:
It is absolutely clear what the Democrats stood for in this election... Respect for the importance of time-tested international alliances, and for the system for resolving global issues through the UN and other international bodies which has evolved over the last century. A measured approach to dealing with foreign relations, a recognition that there are always many crises to be juggled at once, and a disinclination to overextend or rely on 'magic bullet' or utopian solutions. Striking a balance between business and labor which benefits both, and judicious use of the state to resolve problems for which the private sector is poorly suited. Fiscal responsibility. A tolerence of difference, a respect for ability and expertise, and a dedication to the ideals of the woman's rights, civil rights, and labor movements. An America like the America we grew up in and believed in, only maybe a bit better, which stands for and gains its strengths from these common values which are our heritage.
digby, at Hullabaloo, talks about that, and futher provides his own summary of the Democratic platform:
To protect and defend the citizens of the United States.
To preserve the separation of church and state
To safeguard the right to choose.
To provide a decent safety net
To preserve progressive taxation
To protect the environment
To advance civil liberties and civil rights
To govern transparently
To provide opportunity
To promote equality
To advance progress
To preserve the American way of life

These people [Republicans] aren't united by a common ideology or set of values. They are united by a common hatred of Democrats, fueled by a massive propaganda machine. They won this campaign by putting on a trash talking spectacle starring George W. Bush as Commander Codpiece. (Those who wanted to ban gay marriage got in two for the price of one.) The problem is that show biz conservatism has become the default channel for more Americans. It's about identity, not ideology.
I agree on all counts. We don't need a new list -- this one is great, and derives from the heart of American ideals -- but rather we need to claim this list, so that this is what the word "liberal" comes to mean again, and so that our fellow citizens see these goals as part of our mutual interest, rather than a threat from beyond their fortress walls. That's not a trivial goal, but it's the only thing that will get us where we need to go.

No comments: