I was watching MSNBC this morning, eating my "everything" bagel with cream cheese and playing with the kitten's ears, when a feature came on talking about campaigning in Virginia today for the very tight senate race between the troubled GOP incumbent, Sen. George Allen, and challenger, Democrat Jim Webb. Polls are reporting this morning that, with a mere three weeks to go until the election, this is one of the tightest Senate contests being fought this year. President Bush is headed down to Virginia today to stump for Allen, and former President Clinton was there, helping to raise campaign funds for Webb.
Though it has nothing to do with this particularly post, it does bear noting that the moderator of the segment and both political pundits were female. I don't recall when I've ever seen that before, as sad a commentary on American politics as that is. I really wish I'd been on the ball enough to write down their names, since I never ever watch MSNBC and am unfamiliar with their regulars. But I was pleased to see it in any case. The moderator of the segment posed the question to the two pundits as to whether such presidential appearances helped or hindered the candidates. The moderator pointed out that Bush, with his newly minted 38% job approval rating might actually hurt Allen, and Clinton's appearance usually serves to mobilize and energize Democrats and independents wherever he appears.
The liberal pundit commented, "With such low poll showings for Bush, I'm surprised Allen would want to be associated with him so close to election day," which made sense to me, since I live in California, where OUR Republican governor is pretending that he never heard the name George W. Bush, and only the Democrats are flashing pictures of his toothy grin beside the 45th POTUS. Then the conservative pundit made a snippy remark about how the Democrats were marching out Clinton because of an utter and complete lack of party commitment and focus on the part of the DNC. I was incensed! I took umbrage! Now, wait just a flea pickin' minute, lady! And then it hit me, like the white light from a frontal lobe brain tumor.
Damn it! I'd scourge that cow if it weren't for the fact that she's absolutely right.
I hate it when Republicans are right. It really ruins my whole damn day. But I particularly hate when they're right in regards to the weakness and lack of inner fire inside my beloved Democratic party. These were the people who once mobilized a nation to help dig its own way out of a Great Depression. Okay, WWII didn't hurt. But most of the social programs that existed to help Americans help themselves were assembled in the 30's, long before Pearl Harbor. FDR did that. He had fire. He had passion. He had polio, for God's sake, and he still had fire and passion. Most of our current party, save for my darling Barbara Boxer and Barack Obama, are standing on two good legs and you can barely find a pulse!!!
I've read and read all the analyses about why this is, and I can only come up with one answer. We're so busy defensively trying to disprove what the Christian Right says about us -- that we're anti-Christmas, anti-family, abortion-having, homo-loving, amoral-cuz-we-haven't-all-accepted-Jesus-Christ-as-our-Lord-and-Savior baby killers -- that we just don't have time to form our own agenda. We're so busy trying to prove negatives -- that we don't eat newborn puppies, that we aren't all homosexual, that we don't really hate Jesus or the Lord, but merely want to worship quietly in our way -- that can't seem to take time out and actually come up with a list of things "To Do."
How can you go out in the world and affect change, like passing the Civil Rights Amendment (Democrats did that, in 1968) and establishing a Social Security system (Democrats again), when you dont even know what you want to stand for. We're so busy arguing with conservatives about whether or not we're bad people, we keep forgetting that actions speak louder than words. If we're really bent on trying to prove that liberal is not a dirty word, then we have to be prepared to get some things done, and ruffle a few feathers in the doing so.
So here's my list of Things To Do for Democrats:
- Quit talking about Mark Foley. Bad man? You betcha. And now we all know it, so let's just move on, safe and secure in the knowledge that he won't get near another teenage congressional page.
- Start talking about real Christian values -- I'm talking about the ones Christ talked about, like curing poverty, caring for the sick and indigent, and not fighting wars. Oddly, I've looked all through the Bible and can't find one reference by Christ to gay marriage or abortion.
- And speaking of wars, let's get really strong about Iraq. Since our Commander in Chief is both deluded and dishonest, it stands to reason that he is without the tools necessary to establish a real plan for pulling out of Iraq. Perhaps its time that some of the brilliant military minds (there must be SOME in the Democratic party, for God's sake) get together and draft a suggested strategy for withdrawal.
- Get some kind of economic plan together and hold to it. Democrats are so sure Republicans have it all over them in this area that they quit before they start, completely forgetting that when Clinton entered office, he inherited some of the worst economic conditions since the 30s. They weren't calling what the first Bush got us in a "recession" -- they were calling it a "depression." It had all turned around by the start of Clinton's second year in office.
- Let's move back toward a separation of Church and State, and for pete's sake, stop letting the fundies drive the damn car! The First Amendment is pretty clear about the fact that everybody gets to pick how the want to worship (or not, as the case may be), and this idea that's been recently cultivated that America was founded by Christians is just plain wrong. And the worst part is that it's a notion that's gone completely unchallenged by prominent Democrats because they're too terrified to speak the truth. For the record, most of the men who were instrumental in drafting the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and, finally, the Constitution were Deists, not Christians, so when the President jumps up and says, in his earthy Texas drawl, that America was created as a Christian nation with Christian values, I expect an atheist Democratic student of American History to jump up and point out that Jefferson, Adams, Ben Franklin and probably even George Washington did not consider themselves Christians, but Deists.
- Healthcare Coverage. For everybody. Period. Nuff said there.
- Public education is a mess and the Democrats are ignoring it. It is time for the party of equal education for all to stand up and demand that all start getting an equal education. It's the only smart thing to do.
- Stop leaking penny-ante bullshit sound bites to the press about Republican politicians who are courting teenage pages or sleeping with their nannies. Trying to beat a Republican at his own game can only result in tragedy for all concerned.
- Quit playing the schoolyard game of "The Dozens." They say something, we say something back, then they say, "Nuh-uhhh..." and we say, "Yuh-huhhh..." At some point, you just walk away with your belief in the knowledge that you know what you mean and what you stand for and you can't care what people think about you. You just have to do the right thing.
- Do the right thing.
So that's my list so far. Just as a starter. Something to keep those Democrats off the streets and busy. Idle hands are the devil's playground after all. I don't ever want to hear another Republican pundit say that we lack fire and a solid agenda, especially if she turns out to be right! As Democrats we must insist that our choices in office be strong and take a stand.
The worst about that whole ordeal this morning was, realizing she was right and all, I completely lost my appetite for that "everything" bagel and cream cheese. And I think I may have accidentally pulled the kitten's ear, too.