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|Fri, 11-05-2004 - 9:52pm|
OK - the election is over and the country remains quite divided. There are very few states where one candidate/agenda won decisively/overwhelmingly over the other (Utah is the one that comes to mind - think they were 70% Bush, but that's not unexpected), but reality is reality.
So what's next?
My close friends and I, who are spread throughout the country did our little mourning sighs, but if we really feel strongly about change, what are we going to do? My concern/belief is that the Democratic party (1) tries so hard to be inclusive of a MUCH wider range of views than does the Republican party and (2) allows itself to be backed into showing it's most extreme stance versus more balanced stance during campaigns, so much so that it is hard to see how we recover for another national campaign. (Of course, people always feel defeatist after a defeat, but...). So, what should we do? Just brainstorming among friends via email, our focus has been on appealing to moderate Republican (particularly the Senate, as the house is just crazy...)members to look past the rhetoric and try to strike balance. i would like to believe that the President, in his lame duck term, could try to do the same, but I do not believe that he will do so, as party leadership best interests would be additional polarization, not less ---- the more we can divide the country between us and them, the more those red states on the map guaratee another win in the white house. Meanwhile, there are judicial nominations, foreign policy decisions, and who knows what coming down the pike.
So, what should be our top priority?
(1) Appealing to moderates to accept that a more conservative agenda will be put in place, but to request that it be a moderate implementation - to address those 49% who voted the other way. This approach addresses some of the 'fears' we've expressed - that things we see as rights or civil liberties are at risk, that the American position globally is at risk, etc., but it requires that we concede the ground to conservatism and instead look towards moderating that view.
(2) All out battle --- fight at every turn. It's not defeatist nor is it weak, but I think it just sets up the Dems to fall into their same old trap of coming out looking like ultra liberal flakes --- frankly, I don't need or want to make my point about free speech by defending child pornography, nor defend the right to choose with a drug-addicited prostitute - and those are always teh extreme examples we allow ourselves to get pushed into when we go all out
(3) Forget today's Government - it will be what it is and with the balance of power as it is, there is little chance of affecting change. Instead, focus on grassroots, how do you build community support - in the red states, in the supermarkets, etc. for a moderate progressive platform - in other words, give up watching at the national level and ask what can I do here and now? I think this works, but only if we get enough troops in play to get it moving everywhere, and only if it's moderate. It means forgetting about the focus on unlimited access to abortion and instead saying let's keep it available and safe, but limit it's use/funding. It means giving up a whole anti-gun stance and instead asking soccer moms to band with you to stop cop-killer bullets. It means banding with the friends you have who are gay and say, let's make sure that you cannot lose your job, fail to get in to see your partner in the hospital, and maybe be able to die without a will and not have the probate court ignore your partner of 23 years, but let's agree that we aren't going to legislate to call it MARRIAGE, OK?, and you'll have to find a church who will bless your union on your own - the county justics of the peace isn't going to. It means stop arguing with every little small-town school that wants to put on a Christmas pagent - instead, ask if we can go and can we bring any cookies? Smile, be gracious, and invite your new friends to a festival of lights celebration at temple, or an ethnic festival at your community gathering. It means giving up so much of the little stuff to get at what MANY of us want --- open discourse which seems more inclusive, not exclusive, and is foounded on the tenets of love one another.
So - is it (A) focus on today's administration and ask moderate members to take up our call; (B) Focus on tody's administration and call all out war --- support obstructionist response to extreme conservative measures, appointees, etc. and try to craft a good versus evil fight where we hope we're seen as good; or (C) forget national, work local and start trying to make moderate Democrat and moderate Republican terms that are acceptable, embraced and most importantly ELECTABLE.
Those are my ideas thus far --- I think there are more options than A, B, or C and would love to hear ideas. Once we have A-X ideas, we all then have to talk about implementation. Some among us will be active on the ground - actually get involved locally, run for office even, while others will provide resources (thought, words, deeds, or funds). There need to be letter writers and there need to be people who are friendly and engaging to the woman at the church bake sale who feels differently than you. But I am tossing out the gauntlet and asking for your ideas!
What do we do next?