Friday, November 05, 2004

Let's start with politics...

I have to admit I went into a bit of a depression on Wednesday. I just couldn't believe that Bush won a second term. It seemed like some sort of unreal nightmare. Of course, my location didn't help my mood either.

I work at a very conservative company here in Texas and it is just filled with rapid Bush fans. Everyone here refers to him as "W" which just makes me sick to my stomach. So, I come in on Wednesday in a pretty pissed off mood. Everywhere I go someone is talking about how great it is, calling Kerry "the biggest jerk in the world", and mocking Kerry during the press conference. It was just about more then I could take. Pretty soon the vitriol moved onto Clinton. Folks were going on about how Clinton was a drug traffiker, how he murdered Vince Foster, etc..., etc....

On an aside, I really don't understand the fascination the right has with Clinton. It seems like every time the word "Democrat" comes up Clinton gets insulted. Sure, he wasn't the greatest guy, but they make him out to be Satan. Wierd...

Anyway, I remained totally distracted and didn't get any work done that day. As we got closer to the end of the day I started thinking about what we, as Democrats, needed to do in order to make sure this didn't happen again. I was asked by a family member how Bush won, here's my response....

As for Bush, I know how he won. It comes down to a fundamental problem with how we, as Democrats, think. We think we're right, obviously, and that the way we see the world is the majority view and all the Bush supporters have just been snowballed by the GOP Spin Machine. Last night we found out we were wrong. Like it or not, the majority of the country does not agree with us.

What we need to do is to reframe the major issues, starting with "values". For years, the GOP has determined what that word means. In our culture right now values is equated with heterosexuality, religion, and a good handshake. With that definition, the Democrats have no hope of carrying the issue after Clinton. We need to change it. We need to equate "values" with hard work, tolerance, and self-awareness. That's how we can own that issue, which is very important, again.

Also, we need to get rid of the idea that "liberal" is a dirty word. Repubs have made it cool to be conservative. The Democrats need to do the same thing with being liberal. We need to embrace the word, make it our own. Yeah, we're liberal and goddamn proud of it! If we can do that then we take away a major attack strategy of the Republicans (ie: Kerry is the most liberal senator).

Finally, we have to stop being "poll politicians". This is where are ideals and positions vary based on the current opinion polls. This worked for Clinton, but only because he never had a strong challenger and because he's the best speaker of the modern era. It goes hand in hand with my last point. We need to stop reacting and start dictating. We need to say "This is what we're for! We're for gay rights. We're for international cooperation. We're for universal health care. We are for a balanced budget. We are for the environment. Take it or leave it." Voters may not agree with all of the party's stances, but they will respect that we have them. Look at the Repubs. Their base does not agree with the entire platform, but they know where their party stands and they support them because of it. The most identifiable quality of the Democratic Party is "We're not Republicans". That won't cut it.

So, there ya go, that's why Bush won. Now, we've got two years to get our act together. Let's get of our asses and get it done.

The more I think about it, the more I think the Democratic party is just a couple small steps from regaining momentum. We need to get away from Clinton-era politics and get back to our roots.

I'm not sure what I'll be able to do here deep in the heart of Texas, but if anyone has ideas please let me know.

I have a bunch more political thoughts, but I'll leave it at this for now...

My work place (College of Nursing) was just the opposite--everyone was depressed and outraged over the election result. GW has done NOTHING to address the health care crisis or education crisis for that matter--so he has no fans here.
I hope you are correct in thinking this can be the beginning of significant changes in the Democratic party. Somehow we have to find our real "voice" and quit allowing ourselves to be defined by our opponents.
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