Good Thoughts From Rob
Fellow sub-blogger Rob offers some useful thoughts on how the Democrats can possibly regain their status as one of the two major political parties in the American political landscape. It's fairly long, but worth the read if you, like me, think the country is better off with two (or more) functioning political parties. (Living here in Idaho has taught me that having only one party isn't necessarily the best idea.) Some excerpts from Rob's post:
"...right or wrong people don't see Democrats as a really good alternative. Being a "big tent" party also makes us look like we have no platform. Not a bad thing, being so wide open, but it gives the appearance of lacking focus.
"That and the GOP anti-liberal attack machine that has equated Democrats with liberals, liberals with being un-American and un-Patriotic, and the entire left with being anti-values and anti-Christian. Among other things.
"Now I don't see any "liberal" or Democrat or political lefty as "un-American". We may all have different views, but find me a liberal who seriously says "down with America" and I'll genuinely be surprised. Much of the criticism of Bush/U.S. policy is made out to be anti-American, but criticisim and critical analysis is a much needed commidity in this day and age. I'd ask conservatives to stop demonizing that which they don't agree with. Not that we on the left don't do it from time to time, but no one's perfect and demonizing that which we don't agree with it something we should try to avoid, too..."
Rob goes on to offer six specific suggestions, which all look fairly valid. Some, like "don't be reactive, be pro-active" (go ahead and introduce legislation to enact you policies even if you know they won't pass, to hopefully start a debate), are excellent. I remember hearing Senator Kerry last year talking about his planned "Military Bill of Rights" (it's gone from his web site, but here's the Google cached version). I thought it sounded pretty good, but wondered why, if he thought it was so important, he hadn't bothered to introduce the bill in his previous 19 years as Senator. Voters could see that maybe he was only talking about it as a ploy to get elected.
Regarding his call for Republicans to stop calling "liberals" unpatriotic, I have a problem with that whole meme. Whenever a Democrat is questioned on his stands on national security, liberals will scream, quite shrilly, that people are "questioning their patriotism". Interestingly, it's hard to find any actual quotes where mainstream Republicans actually say words to the effect of "he's not patriotic"; in fact, it mostly seems to be Democrats who "question people's patriotism". (More quotes here; I didn't bother to look up source references for all of them, but they sound reasonable.)
(Although Rob doesn't bring it up, I also have a big problem with people saying that you're "stifling their dissent" and "violating their First Amemdment rights" if you point out that they're idiots for engaging in certain political speech. Those who point out problems with political speech are themselves engaging in protected political speech -- the First Amendment keeps government from restricting speech, not citizens who "stifle" speech by pointing out that it's stupid.)
As far as his contention that there aren't political lefties who are "anti-American", I'll agree that there aren't many who will admit that they are -- it's just a coincidence that essentially every position they take is in favor of our international rivals.
Anyway, Rob has some good points, and I hope the left side of the blogosphere takes notice... but they won't. Democrats today are in such a state of utter collapse and confusion that it'll take getting their butts kicked in several more national elections before they realize they can't continue to nominate people like Gore and Kerry if they hope to make an impact. If the only thing holding the party together is hatred of a lame duck President, they'll remain in serious trouble.