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All major media are reporting that John Kerry has called George Bush to concede. Discuss.
There's an excellent article in the NYTimes by local hero Nicholas Kristof detailing how the Democratic Party needs to transform itself to win over the American People.
I disagree with Nicholas Kristof's contention that the Democratic party needs to redefine itself as "Republican lite" in order to win. If Democrats try to out-Christian the Republicans, and turn their backs on environmental issues, they will lose their base as well as the strong majority they hold now among younger voters.
It's true that we live in a very religious, culturally conservative country. The religious right turned out in droves yesterday, overwhelming an increased turnout in young voters nationwide.
The far left does need to face the reality that we live in a very religious, conservative country, and stop believing in the fantasy that if only the Democratic party would make Ralph Nader its nominee, or adopt the Green Party or Socialist Party platform, all these non-voters and Bush supporters would turn out for the Democrats. It's not going to happen.
But Democrats do need to redefine what they stand for, and they also need to redefine what the Republicans stand for. For the past 20-30 years, Republicans have succeeded in defining what each party stands for on their own terms.
Right now, the average person thinks the Republicans stand for low taxes, and Democrats stand for higher taxes. Democrats stand for big government, Republicans for limited government. Democrats are whimpy flip floppers, Republicans are strong. Republicans are pro business, Democrats bash business.
We need to redefine what the Republican party stands for: Conservatism and authoritarianism. Pro-military and pro-war. Anti-choice. Borrow and spend. Market distorting subsidies and tax breaks for their favored large corporations. An everyone-for-themselves rugged individualism. Too bad for you if you don't have health care.
Democrats need to re-embrace the liberal and progressive labels and redefine themselves as champions of liberty and freedom. Embrace the bill of rights and be the party of civil rights and personal freedoms. Embrace market economics and trade, on a fair playing field rather than one distorted by big tax breaks and subsidies and trade deal provisions for big corporations. Focus on expanding health care to all Americans.
I think Democrats can win the culture war if it is redefined as a battle between authoritarianism and freedom. Right now it is defined as a battle between God and the godless, those with strong moral values and those without. Most people oppose abortion. But they are also pro choice when the issue is defined as one between maintaining personal freedoms vs. government intervention in their lives.
The vast majority of people, especially young people, are pro-environment. Even rural voters and politicians describe themselves as conservationists seeking to protect the health of the environment, because they know to say otherwise would be wildly unpopular. The environment is not the reason Democrats lost nationally yesterday.
We lost a close election yesterday, but not by much. Younger voters under 30 and under 40 went decisively for Kerry, while voters over 65 went to Bush. So time is on our side. But Democrats need to do a better job of redefining Republicans as religious authoritarians, and redefining themselves as champions of personal freedoms and liberty.
Democrats need to do two things.
1) They need to field better candidates. This election was all about Bush. Those who disliked him, voted Kerry. And everyone else voted for Bush.
2) There is a level of arrogance among Democrats that the blue coller worker and the evangelical despise. Its difficult for Dems to see this, but I really think its true. They need to do a better job of reaching out to the middle class.
That being said: John Kerry lost to an incumbant war-time president. Really, its just not that big a surprise.
Count me among the Democrats who don't understand how middle class blue collar people can see Democrats as arrogant. To me, Bush is the most arrogant and sanctimonious president we've ever had. He doesn't listen to anyone and cetainly doesn't try to reach common ground with Democrats. Maybe it's just because I'm originally from New England. Please elaborate.
Some salient points posted above. While I believe we did a great job of registering new voters, the 18-24 set blew it again.People of color did a phenominal job of making it to the polls even when they had to wait in long lines. Posted numbers showed that fewer than 1 in 10 of them actually voted. They'll stay in line all night to get a Lord of the Rings DVD or open a new Krispy Kreme
but they can't be bothered to actually vote. I cringe at the health of our democracy if voter apathy is not turned around in the 18-40 range.
We DO need to get a cohesive message out there that we DO have values. We value people and their inherent worth as human beings. We value jobs, education and healthcare for all. Most demo's do believe in God and actively live out our faith. We don't hate religious people. We do go to worship, we do go to PTA and we do want our taxes spent wisely to reach the greatest common good. We do believe in marriage(gay and straight) and family. We believe in life,liberty and the pusuit of happiness.
Middle America doesn't respond positively to seeing black hooded vandals create chaos because they oppose NAFTA. Middle America will never feel sympathetic to anti war protestors who burn flags or leaders in effigy. Middle America will not reflect on our stewardship of the environment by the hyjinks of Tres Arrow or vandalizing a MacDonald's. They won't hear or think about the seriousness of these issues when all they are thinking is " Who are these creeps ? " as the "news" programs show the sensationalistic footage. Of course this is the minority but it is a case of perception being reality for everyday folk.
I think we will have along time to endure but also to reflect on how we can more effectively deliver our values.
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