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We Have a Job to Do
February 26, 2002
By Eddie Ruff

Why have we let the Republicans put us on the defensive? The Democratic Party has been reeling on the ropes, punch-drunk from blow after blow, our base is eroded and our swing voters are confused - what have we done? Moreover, what are we going to do?

The Republicans have taken some of our best constituents. Since when did conservatism become the side of God and good? Why are Christians mistakenly paired with the G.O.P? Don't they see that party's platform resembles Christ's teachings but little? And what about our hardhats? Why in the world are some unions going to the "dark side?" It doesn't make any sense!

And our flyover states - what's the story there? Why are the good, decent Americans spread across our heartland voting for the party of big business, which obviously doesn't have their best interests at heart? Meanwhile, our nation's young people suffer in a state of anomie, with no political aspirations whatever at worst, or their votes wasted on meaningless third party candidates at best.

Huge chunks of what should be the Democratic constituency hang in the balance. We've got to get them solidly on our side.

More than ever, in this election year, we need a strategy. Something more than ranting about a stolen election on an Internet message board. Our complaints about the illegitimacy of the person currently holding our nation's highest office have about the same relevance - and effectiveness - as the Republicans' continued raves against Clinton. As the progressive, forward-thinking party, we need to look to the future. Referring to our leader as a smirking, repugnant chimp is fun as a hobby, but we need to get serious - we have a job to do. We need to win in November.

It's time to take the offensive. As much as we may despise Republicans, we have to hand it to them. They've done a marvelous job of this. But they've gone about it in a hateful, spiteful way. In gaining their ground on issues such as abortion, gun control, and protection of American jobs, not to mention their professed stance on family values, they have sufficiently demonized the Democratic Party. The nomenclature of "liberal" now smacks of degradation and dissipation. This should not be! We have a prime opportunity, right now, to make a positive change, and by doing so we can get America back on track.

Republicans have used their "pro-life" plank to steal away Christians in droves. Their next target: Latinos. If we lose this burgeoning demographic, we are really in trouble. We need to emphasize the real reason for abortion: the protection of women's rights. We need to hammer home our position that Republicans only care about human beings when they are blastocysts and fetuses. What about AFTER they're born? Let's counter their "pro-life" argument with their obvious shortcomings in the areas of providing health care for the poor, heck, any kind of care for the poor! How hard can this be? Real Christians are commanded to care for those who are less fortunate; let's make this the issue.

Their emphasis on border control has compelled our unions, what few are left, to desert our good cause. As if Republicans are now, or have ever been, pro labor! How did we lose our blue collar workers? We can cry and complain that the union leadership is corrupt, and in bed with the greedy capitalists, but the fact is, many of our blue collars see the Clinton years as a series of sex scandals rather than what we remember as an era of relative peace and unprecedented prosperity. Yes, we know that the rape of our economy is ongoing, perpetrated by the G.O.P. and their cronies, but the hard hats don't know this! Why don't we tell them? After all, which does more damage to the country, an indiscretion with an intern in the Oval Office, or multiple indiscretions with multiple billions of dollars, which threaten our country's very economic survival?

Then we have Joe and Jane Flyover, our rural farmers and ranchers. Here we have a similar story. They eye the Democrats suspiciously, convinced we are dragging the morals that make this country great into the toilet. Plus, they're convinced jack-booted thugs are coming to get their guns. This should not be! If we truly believe our political philosophy is superior to that of the Republicans, we need to get our platform out there and hammer it home - hard. We need to show that WE are the compassionate, forgiving ones. This will stand in sharp contrast to the vehement attacks and flaming rhetoric spewing from the other side via AM talk radio. We need to assure our nation's core constituency that our stance on guns has nothing to do with taking away people's rights to protect themselves.

Speaking of the hateful vitriol the Republicans are so famous for, why on Earth are WE adopting it? We're the good guys! Demonizing the other side is counterproductive; it doesn't work. In the long run, motivating by fear just leads to frustration, which leads to apathy, which leads, ultimately, to non-participation. We need to get people excited about the Democratic Party again. Young people in particular are astute enough to pick up on the "he said - she said" arguments, which lead nowhere. It does no good to point out our enemies' fatal flaws when they merely toss the ball back on our side. "Well - your side does it, too!! Nyah nyah!" - that's childish. Just look how they're trying to paint Democrats with the Enron brush! That wasn't Al Gore riding around on Kenny Lay's jet in 2000. Still, we need to extol our virtues as adults and downplay the backhanded snipes from those who would speak evil.

Oh, the Republicans have done a good job of demonizing us. But we know the truth. We are the ones who REALLY love our country. We are the ones who REALLY care about our people. And we are the ones who can REALLY get America back on the right path. We know the "right" is wrong, but we don't need to keep pointing that out. What we really need is to solidify our base, and pull those all-important swing voters over to our side. Those are OUR Christians. Those are OUR blue collars. Those are OUR rural constituents and young people. We need to let them know who REALLY loves them and cares for them. We can rope them in by extolling our virtues, thus overcoming evil with good. Then let's get going about our business of winning elections. November will be here before we know it.

Eddie has a B.A. in Political Science and is currently attending law school in California

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