A Unifying Message for the Democratic
April 9, 2005
By Paul S. Hardersen
Ever since the November 2004 elections, I have been listening to
the relentless wailing of political pundits and amateurs about the
state of the Democratic Party and how we could lose - again - to
a Republican president who is figuratively bankrupt in so many ways,
it almost boggles the imagination.
While I am far from being directly involved in the political process,
I do have a fair bit of background knowledge in politics. My job
and other commitments keep me from becoming more involved, but my
political urges are growing stronger as I seek to join with people
who want to advocate for a healthy civic society and body politic
in the United States.
With that in mind, I have a few suggestions that may help the Democratic
Party develop a message that resonates with very diverse people
from coast-to-coast. I do not offer these ideas as cure-alls, but
maybe someone within the Party will find my thoughts worthwhile
and maybe even use some of them.
Overall vision. I submit that one of the fundamental values
that the Democratic Party should espouse - and espouse strongly
and vigorously - is the ideal of strength through diversity. We
must state strongly that we will never live in a mono-cultural nation
with one set of ethical, religious, and moral values. We are approximately
300 million very different people who have varying views about many,
many issues. It is not the role of government to tell people how
to live - but it is the role of government to ensure that all people
can pursue life, liberty, and happiness. This dictates that government
should not favor one group over another, but should seek to manage
the diverse constituencies to ensure that everyone receives fair
and equitable treatment under the law.
I also suggest that, if used wisely, we can use this issue to highlight
some of the more unseemly aspects of the Republican Party. There
are those within the opposition party who hold views that some might
consider discriminatory, which are used to promote the conservative
social and political values of the party. We should highlight Republicans
who hold such discriminatory values and let people know that this
type of behavior is not conducive to a strong, united society. Whether
the issue is equal rights for women, gays, racial minorities, or
any other underrepresented group in society, we must proudly state
that discrimination of any group in any way is wrong and should
be eliminated. This, I think, will thrust Republican skeletons out
of their closet and cause a major political raucous - but will also
get people's attention.
Let's take the values fight to the Republicans - history is on
the side of people who accept a diverse, multi-cultural society.
There is no turning back from this reality.
Economics. The Republican Party and its President are already
stumbling on economic issues this year, but a strong Democratic
message should be pronounced that distinguishes us from the Republicans.
Aggressively promoting a more equitable society - while still encouraging
innovation and competition - are issues that we need to take to
the public. The minimum wage should be increased, businesses should
be encouraged to become more socially responsible, and the government
should be used as a way to protect workers from the excesses of
private industry. While we often hear of the "miracle" of private
enterprise, little attention is paid to its adverse consequences.
Government-industry hand-holding must stop - objective government
oversight of industry must be re-established and promoted as a benefit
for workers and businesses.
At the same time, promoting government-industry collaboration in
important economic arenas, such as scientific research and high
technology, should be promoted - along with greater government investment
in the scientific education and training of our citizenry. Democracies
only work with an educated citizenry and we are currently failing
(miserably) to produce an educated electorate that can competently
consider, discuss, and debate important public policy issues that
affect their lives. We must stop the "dumbing down" of our society
and promote the values of reason, understanding, and the discussion
of important issues.
Foreign policy and defense. The situation in Iraq and the
philosophies behind this military action is the sad continuation
of an American foreign policy that is becoming increasingly imperialistic
and intolerant of the wishes of the rest of the world. The simple
acknowledgement that we are one member of the global community will
go a long way toward changing our perception around the world. It
will also begin to change the "do as we say and not as we do" philosophy
that currently reigns. Promoting democracy is wonderful, but it
must start at home. That is something, sadly, which seems less prevalent
here as the President (or his minions) has (on at least two occasions)
been accused of preventing some people from attending his "discussions"
on Social Security. Reports of the lack of dissent in White House
policy discussions are also disturbing. How are we to be a beacon
of hope to the world when we increasingly act like a burgeoning
Americans who hold the imperialistic, nationalistic view that we
should not and must not be concerned with the rest of the world
simply need to understand, once again, that we are one nation in
a very diverse world. We do not give up our sovereignty by listening
to the needs, desires, and thoughts of other peoples. In fact, if
our goal as a nation and a people is to improve the quality of lives
of the people of the world, then we must listen and develop joint
strategies to accomplish that goal.
Whether at home or abroad, it must be stated that the goal of our
government is to improve the quality of all or lives. Stated strongly
and loudly, this simple message will resonate with many, many people.
These are a few humble suggestions that I put forth to the Democratic
Party. The time for weakness is over. Our diversity is our strength
and it must be successfully argued, debated, and announced throughout
the country - now!
What will actually happen to the Democratic Party? I'm not sure,
but I give these thoughts to you for due consideration.