Here's the least surprising news of the week: Americans are souring on the Democratic Party. The wonder is that it's taken so long for public opinion to curdle. There's nothing agreeable about watching a determined attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post
It is an axiom of American politics that the Democratic Party will negotiate from a position of weakness and the Republican Party will proceed from strength. The number of seats they hold in Congress is irrelevant to this paradigm. The Republicans could be down to five senators and they would still charge into battle. And the Democrats would, from the outset, assume that the Republicans are right (and mainstream) and that since their own position is too extreme they must concede as soon as possible to remain politically viable. There is no Republican talking point that won't scare the bejesus out of the Democratic Party. - Cenk Uygur, Huffington Post
The above-quoted pieces aren't necessarily eye-openers. They're not saying anything we haven't all been talking about for months now. They're just saying it better. In fact, dazzlingly better. In fact, they're making so much sense I'm getting ready for the final smackdown. I've been patient long enough.
This year marks my 50th Anniversary as a card carrying Democrat. Long enough so that they're almost like family to me, and as families go, we've had our ups and downs. But it's clear to me, finally, that I've been far more loyal to them than they've been to me.
All I've ever asked of them is that they do the right thing. It doesn't take a decade's worth of committee meetings and forests full of red-taped paper to come up with a way to do the right thing. We need living-wage jobs. We need affordable health care. We need clean air, clean water and a leaning toward green. We need protection from the callous, the cruel, and the crazies. It's not too much to ask of the Party of the People. (Think Ted Kennedy, Paul Wellstone, Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Anthony Weiner, Russ Feingold. . .)
Still, I'm a charitable person. I'm willing to give them another chance. But I'm gonna need some help. So all of those interested in going the intervention route to save the Democratic Party leaders from themselves, holler "Aye"!
Waiting. . . .
Counting the minutes. . .
Gettin' hungry here. And lonely. . .
C'mon people. Remember how they used to be? Remember this?
"Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things...every one!
- Matt Santos, The West Wing
Democrats have changed America in simple basic ways in the past fifty years that have benefited everyone. Race has become less and less an issue in people's lives and racism has ceased to be socially acceptable anywhere.
Women have moved into every realm of society and this is everywhere accepted without much comment, Equal opportunity in education, employment, housing. There is general agreement on the right to a dignified old age, guaranteed by the state. Democrats led the way in bringing these things about. It's one thing to get into power and do favors for your friends; it's quite another to touch the conscience of a nation. The last Republican to do that was Teddy Roosevelt.
and:And especially this:
The fear of catastrophe could chill the soul but the social compact assures you that if the wasps come after you, if gruesome disease strikes down your child, if you find yourself hopelessly lost, incapable, drowning in despair, running through the rye toward the cliff, then the rest of us will catch you and tend to you and not only your friends but We the People in the form of public servants.
- Garrison Keillor, "Homegrown Democrat" 2004
The economic plank of this platform on its face concerns only material things, but it is also a moral issue that I raise tonight. It has taken many forms over many years. In this campaign and in this country that we seek to lead, the challenge in 1980 is to give our voice and our vote for these fundamental democratic principles.
Let us pledge that we will never misuse unemployment, high interest rates, and human misery as false weapons against inflation.
Let us pledge that employment will be the first priority of our economic policy.
Let us pledge that there will be security for all those who are now at work, and let us pledge that there will be jobs for all who are out of work; and we will not compromise on the issues of jobs.
These are not simplistic pledges. Simply put, they are the heart of our tradition, and they have been the soul of our Party across the generations. It is the glory and the greatness of our tradition to speak for those who have no voice, to remember those who are forgotten, to respond to the frustrations and fulfill the aspirations of all Americans seeking a better life in a better land.
We dare not forsake that tradition. We cannot let the great purposes of the Democratic Party become the bygone passages of history.
We don't need a new party. We already have one of the historically great ones. This may cause some heads to snap, but we were the greatest when we were the most liberal. We lost whatever moral standing we had when we shut the door on being our brother's keeper and got in bed instead with the powermongers who would just as soon screw us as look at us.
That is not who we are. I remember a certain charismatic but maddeningly flawed presidential candidate saying over and over, "We're better than that". And for a while it looked like he was right. After eight years of cowardice that smelled a lot like treachery, we were on the way to Doing the Right Thing.
The candidate who became president sounded like an old Democrat, too, and we screamed with joy when the votes were in and our man won. Politics As Usual went out the window, and--surprise!--flew right back in again.
After more than eight years of cowardice/treachery, they owe us. Millions of us are hurting because of their actions, or inaction. They have a lot of making up to do, a lot of promises to keep, yet to watch them these days you would think that winning elections was all there was to it.
You have a job to do, you masters of the universe, you servants of the people. We made you--we can break you. So listen up:
We need cheap equitable health care without the usual looting by the insurance pirates. Take care of it.
We need a jobs program like the WPA/CCC. Take care of it.
We need to send a Dear John letter to Republican Fat-Cat-enabling naysayers. Take care of it.
We need to get back to making products instead of creating serfs. Take care of it.
And you need to stop pretending that Business As Usual is going to save us. It's not.
And another thing: The majority of us don't run with the Blue Dogs. The Blue Dogs are dogs. Let them eat scraps.
Time's up. You're dismissed. Now get to work.
(Cross-posted at Talking Points Memo here)