Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Social Security, Soundbites, And Jumpin Joe

Having faced a disappointing campaign in 2004, many of us on the left are still wondering about what our party needs to do to win back the "hearts and minds" of the American voter. On one hand, we have talk of turning away from our anti-gun, pro-affirmative action, anti-"confederate navy jack" in order to gain the sothern vote. Mayhap there even be talk of DNC sponsorship of some NASCAR events, or even maybe putting the Donkey on some racecars.

On the other hand, there is the side that says we must hold fast to our values. We stand true to our core beliefs while telling the rest of red states: "Good, Go Ahead, America, Choke on Your Own Vomit, You Deserve to Die."

While my inner beliefs tend to lean toward the latter sentiment, I do believe that we can take America back from the ultra-right, near-comic screechings of the Conservative GOP. We simply need to restructure our message, take out all the lingo, the fine points, the techno jargon and.....simplify.

How do we do this? Well, look to how it was done 10 years ago.

Remember the Republicans' 1994 manifesto: The Contract With America?

Running together on the contract's commitment to eight major congressional reforms on the first day of a new majority and to bring 10 pieces of legislation to the floor for a vote by the end of the first 100 days, the GOP engineered the largest transfer of power in the history of the House of Representatives: The GOP picked up a net of 52 seats on Election Day and, through a series of party switches by congressional Democrats in the weeks after the results were in, added another half dozen to its first majority in 40 years.

Simple promises, basic positions. Agree with the positions or not, at least you knew where they stood on those issues.

The Democrats attempt, "NEW PARTNERSHIP FOR AMERICA'S FUTURE " is....well, it sucks:

PROSPERITY Providing all Americans with the opportunity to succeed and to live a secure and comfortable life, including good jobs here at home, affordable health care, a growing economy with stable prices, investment in new technologies, and fiscal responsibility in government.

NATIONAL SECURITY Guaranteeing military strength second to none, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction, building strong diplomatic alliances to protect America's national interests, and collecting timely and reliable intelligence to keep us safe at home by preventing terrorist attacks before they occur.

FAIRNESS Ensuring equal opportunity for all, including affordable health care for everyone, spending Social Security funds only on Social Security and eliminating tax loopholes so that all Americans pay their fair share.

OPPORTUNITY Providing Americans access to the tools to succeed as they choose: a vibrant public education system, accountable to the highest standards for every school and a chance for all children to reach their potential, including an affordable and accessible college education.

COMMUNITY Working together for safe communities free of crime and drugs, supporting local businesses and groups to keep our families safe and our neighborhoods strong, and enforcing our anti-pollution laws to keep our air and water clean and healthy, with polluters paying for the damage they cause.

ACCOUNTABILITY Holding those in power accountable for their actions, acting responsibly for our children by restoring fiscal discipline and eliminating deficit spending with pay-as-you-go-budgets, and requiring real consequences for CEOs and corporations who break the law at the expense of those who play by the rules.

The New Partnership for America's Future is our pledge to the American people to honor these core values. House Democrats are united, focused, and totally committed to taking the bold steps needed to strengthen the middle class that is the heart of our democracy. When House Democrats succeed in November, so will our country.

What's wrong with it? Simple. It doesn't really say anything. All those positions stances sound really great, but what they don't point to any real action. Take the fist position, PROSPERITY.
Providing all Americans with the opportunity to succeed and to live a secure and comfortable life, including good jobs here at home, affordable health care, a growing economy with stable prices, investment in new technologies, and fiscal responsibility in government. ...and improved golf scores, bigger smiles, and easier bowel movements.

Now, try it this way:

PROSPERITY: Democrats propose bringing legistation to the floor within 100 days after the election that will call for annual cost of living increases in the federal minimum wage, affirming our belief that all Americans deserve a fair and decent income.

There, that wasn't so hard, was it? Ok, fine, but let's let Dean take a shot at hit. I believe the good Doctor will probably come up with a better code for us before 2006 (here's hopin').

The whole "on-message thing" is one thing that Democrats can't seem to get their head around; party unity is another. Take Lieberman. Now the good Senator may have personal views favoring privatization, maybe he's against it but just isn't very vocal about it. But Social Security is one of the Democrat's Core Principles (we founded, created, and fought for Social Security). And one of the things a minority party must do is stay unified on their core principles. Any Democrat that does any "reaching across the aisle" at this point is merely destroying party unity and allowing the current GOP to keep steering our country toward their "All Red-America" vision.

Well, that's 2 simple goals for the Democratic Party: Keep It Simple, and Stay Unified. Let's see if they can learn it in 2 years.

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