Sep 22, 2006

Still Waiting for a Democratic Party Agenda

Democratic Party logo My personal politics do not lend themselves to simple categorization, and I hold positions that range from the far right (fiscal conservatism) to the far left (support for slavery reparations). I could, however, be seen as a voter who will be more likely to vote Democratic than Republican this fall. Unfortunately, I see little cause for enthusiasm that the Democrats have developed much in the way of an agenda in the next session of Congress.

Howard Dean's Wall Street Journal op-ed column contains much of the same tired rhetoric found in many of the current leaders of the Democratic Party, and his column boils down to this statement: "We are not the Republicans."

Dean cheerfully tells me that the Democrats "will restore honesty in government," and that they will "dramatically expand support of energy independence." The Democrats, writes Dean, "will have a jobs agenda that includes good jobs that stay in America," and that they "will have a defense policy that is tough and smart."

Howard Dean Dr. Dean, I am underwhelmed by your lack of specifics, and your editorial is rife with lots of feel-good phrases such as "retirement with dignity" that say absolutely nothing about policy.

The early polls seem to indicate that the Democrats stand to gain big this November, and that they might also recapture both houses of Congress. Perhaps they have made a collective decision that by focusing on the failures of the Republicans, they do not need to deliver a more delineated agenda, akin to the 1994 Contract with America that the Republicans so successfully marketed.

The Democrats might very well win the election with a collective campaign that emphasizes Republican failures, but they certainly cannot effectively govern with such a strategy.

My suspicion is that the divisions within the party are simply being shelved in favor of the greater goal of recapturing Congress.

Dear Democratic Party: We, the citizens of the United States, demand more than just booting out the old GOP Congress. If you offer us a legislative agenda that is either Republican-light, or worse - bereft of substance - then you will find your victory to be of both a one-term and Pyrrhic nature.

And, be advised - we might just get motivated enough to throw our support behind a viable new third party in 2008.


Kathleen Marie said...

I wrote a thesis on slavery reparations, which are so long overdue it is rediculous. I also support reparations for the WWll concentration camp victims in the US - you know, the Japanese who were thrown into enterment camps for their protection and received basically nothing when they were released. I know they weren't called concentration camps, but that is what they were in my humble opinion.

I read the column by Dean and I agree with most of what you say...very little policy and a lot of bull. I have little hope for the Dems this fall. I mean, it is a bit to late to start rallying and if anything is put together, it will be thrown together in a last minute rush, like a Freshman's rough draft for his midterm paper, thrown together the night before it is due.

Name withheld to protect the guilty said...

I'm sure you're familiar with the Lewis Black theory: Democrats are the party of no ideas, and Republicans are the party of bad ideas.

Or are you a bigger fan of the "Democrats blow, Republicans suck" theory?

jen said...

I'm frustrated with the Democrats for their pathological inability to take a stand, but anyone is better than the bozos running the country right now. But like you, Mike, I'd gladly support a third party, especially one like the Working Families Party in NY, which doesn't run its own candidates but throws its support behind candidates with agendas friendly to its positions.

-Sepp said...

Slavery reparitions? Feel free to pay that tab yourself if, it'll make you feel better.

As for the democrats, they could go a long way by trying a new and unheard of tactic to the party. OPTIMISM! Every election they live up to their tag as "the doom and gloom" party because thats all they ever seem to focus on.
With the republicans we have bombs falling, with the democrats the sky falling.

When I was a kid, the democrats were still the party of JFK and FDR and maintained some respectability and credibility. Today's democrats would shun JFK as a conservative. Born rich, a catholic, a vetran, pro military, strong on defense and, cut taxes across the board. Modern democrats would run him out of town on a rail.
"Ask not what your country can do for you" has morphed into "demand the government do everything for you".

Brian said...

Find me a living former slave and I will gladly pay the reparations.

Ask a Jew the difference between a concentration camp and an enterment camp. While neither was right, to even compare the two is beyond hyperbole and lapses into ignorance.

Hooda Thunkit said...


Seems like you have a mixed bag, so far.

I agree that reparations should be paid to former slaves, by the slave-owners and by those that sold them into slavery.

The Japanese we put into concentration camps should also be compensated by the U.S. government (us, of course). However, their heirs should receive nothing.

As for the hapless dems and the scorned republicans, let's hear some ideas, judge the likelihood of following through by their records and vote accordingly, regardless of party affiliation.

To me, this party thing is the source of much more trouble than it's worth.

Parties = Bad.

Politicians with real ideas = Good.

Anonymous said...

If Democrats defect to third party candidates, we'll just have more of the same with the GOP in power. Now is not the time to get behind anyone who'll grab just a sliver of the vote.

If there's a need or significant desire for a third party, start building one now for the election that follows the one in November -- and propel the candidates into the same top-of-mind position that GOP and DEM candidates enjoy.

Reality-based voters don't want to make a statement with their votes; they want to elect someone worthy. Election day is not the time to indulge the likes of, say, a Ralph Nader who has ideas some of us may admire, but who ultimately throws a monkey-wrench into the process. To prepare a third party for prime time politics will take time, smarts, and good press -- plus, of course, ideas that are realistic and will appeal to serious voters. No third party is there yet. Not by a long shot.

Now, if I were a Republican, I'd be all about stirring up the Dems about the failures of their party and the wisdom of voting for guaranteed losers in the third parties.

Anonymous said...

Reparations? The very idea runs completely against any reading of history. It would bankrupt the system. Civilization, being what it is, occasionally appallingly violent and always greedy, there are enough aggrieved to make the passing of money from one party to other a significant part of the economic stucture.

And its always the popular horrors like the Jewish Holocaust and american slavery that get the attention. Less popular atrocities that were in many ways worse, get a pass - China, Japan, Russia, Congo, ect.

Civilization for all its lovely perks, is based in part on human misery. It is an integral, ineluctable support for this endeavor. It was so of yor. It is so today. And most of the bad things get ignored. Reparations is like pissing in Niagra Falls.

Nate said...

If we should pay reperations for slavery should the Mongols not have to pay reperations to the Russians, Chinese, and most of the Middle East?

As for the Dems, I could get behind one if they talked more like Peter Beinart in The Good Fight. Unfortanately i doubt that day will ever come. It is a shame Dems like Dean and a good part of the party think, or atleast act like, Bush is a greater evil (dare I use that unnuanced word) than terrorists.

The constant and often petty partisan bickering that goes on while the enemy gathers sickens me.

Anonymous said...

If the Democratic party had the courage of its convictions, Howard Dean would be president today.

Instead, the party establishment was so afraid of being Saddam-baited, it nominated Kerry simply because he was a war veteran.

Well, guess what happened. He was Swift Boated anyway. The right wing nuts are never going to vote for anyone but candidates that address their seething macho insecurity.

Dean would have continued to energize the party's base and may have succeeded in showing independent voters that liberal isn't a dirty word and that it's possible to be "tough" on terrorism without getting involved in needless, costly wars like Iraq.

Instead, we got Kerry who will go to his political grave as the man who voted for the war before he voted against it, and would do so again...

-Sepp said...

Anon, it wasn't just the swiftboaters that sunk Kerry ;-)
Kerry sunk Kerry.
I didn't care too much for Howard Dean but, in the credit where credit's due dept, he did put enthusiasm and energy into his campaign and had great momentum going...then lost it. Why the Dems threw Kerry into the ring is a mystery to me. The only common sense reasoning I could come up with is that the Democrat's national party must be just as screwed up as the local Lucas county party is. Kerry just had better connections in the party than Dean did.

I wasn't going to get into the reparations crap but, I will anyways. The whole idea sounds like something that "leaders" like Jesse Jackson, John Conyers and, Al Sharpton have dreamed up to create more divisiveness in race relations. There is no fair formula to determine who will pay or, even who should be paid. All white people or, only white people who could be proven to have had slave owners in their family history? How do you determine which black people in this country are actually decendents of slaves? Do mixed race people only have to pay half or, recieve half? The white people who ran the underground railroad and risked their lives to free slaves...are their heirs exempt? Is everyone who came to this country after slavery exempt? And just how much cash is due to people who never suffered the pains and hardships of slavery but, are willing to simply capitalize off of it? A new version of a black on black crime of exploitation? Black people in this country live a higher standard of living than any other black community on the planet which is a direct result of slavery in itsself. If anything, there is a debt of gratitude owed to those who suffered through slavery by those who benefitted by it in one way or, another. Decendents of slave owners as well as decendents of slaves. Neither would enjoy the same quality of life without the other.

Nate said...

"Dean would have continued to energize the party's base and may have succeeded in showing independent voters that liberal isn't a dirty word and that it's possible to be "tough" on terrorism without getting involved in needless, costly wars like Iraq."

I've seen Dean "tough" on Bush, but "tough" on terror? It is a rare thing indeed. Just contrast how much Dean spends trashing Bush instead of talking about a democratic plan for the War on Terror and the War in Iraq.

Anonymous said...

What is the metric for "...better standard of living than any other black community on the planet?" Does the ability to drive in cadillacs or SUVs or other gas guzzling vehicles and eat fat foods for McDonalds and her cousin fast-food chains, constitute a high/better standard of living? Do all white American live better than their European cousins just by virtue of being in the States or does the American proclivity to romanticize anything and everything European somehow even out the standard of living/mental health issue especially when it applies to Europe?
While we are at it let's demand that Libya pay reparations for the Lockerbie bombings and England not repay the aboriginal New Zealanders for renting their land and worst, not vacate the land after the lease has expired because we are entitled to it, damn it! Come to think of it, we are entitled to any property on earth, whenever and wherever we damned well please.
Plus, we are not responsible for the sins of your fathers but we demand the rewards for the labor and sacrifices of your progenitors.

Michael said...

Speaking as a conservative . . . I would definitely support the abolishment of all current political parties. Then, let new parties form (with the hope that more than two would dominate the scene).

In terms of divisiveness, there is nothing more divisive -- at least for appearances -- than how Congress is set up. I want my senators and representatives grouped by state. Not by party. They are there to represent ME. Not their respective D or R parties, but me and the community and state I live in.

Can someone explain why Congress is set up like that? It promotes divisiveness, not unity.
-- Mike