You Are Here...Perusing headlines recently, I saw "A Return to America's Founding Principles.". My initial reaction? "I'm sure as hell not clicking that...." I was positive that it contained vapid Republican curd about how they were going to save the Righteous from the Leftovers. It took three skips across the home page at MSNBC before I bit, and I am so glad I did.
That hesitation speaks volumes. How did we let America, let ourselves as Dems, get so sold on this one way trip on the river of libel? Do you know any Democrats who fit the stereotype plastered across the talk radio airways? I don't. How did we just sit there and end up painted into the corner as Godless, unprincipled, ill-mannered, uncaring, manipulative liars? How come we can't get any momentum out of the truth in a given situation? Fabrications rule, and it seems like the truth can't even get buried on page A20 these days.
I'd dearly love to take back my government, take back my country, but mostly I'm looking for the restoration of my good name. In a party as embracing, varied and chaotic as the Democrats, is it even possible to develop the required cohesiveness to stem the slanderous tide?
I wish I felt more confident. The grass roots elements of the Kerry campaign were encouraging. Lots of little money made a pretty impressive pile, but it still wasn't enough. I think a couple of things need to happen. First, election reform which includes paper trails of every vote cast, non partisan election supervisors and enforced felony charges for election tampering. Perhaps a constitutional amendment strengthening the sanctity of elections is in order.
Second, a unilateral agreement that election advertising on television, radio, or the web can only be used to promote your candidates qualities. Any issues regarding your opponents weaknesses must be relegated to printed material mailed to voters homes. Pundits who misrepresent facts in order to persuade must publicly set records straight during the same time of day the original misrepresentation was made and the correction must last as long as the original error. Advertisers would freak. A major component of the divide in this nation can be traced directly to the 9 month bombardment of negativity we just suffered through. Enough.
Third, and probably the most elusive, is immediate countermanding of the notion that God and Democrats are mutually exclusive. This is a dialogue that needs to take place within the party, and soon. Freedom of religion is a basic tenement, yet we tiptoe around it like it's a "don't ask don't tell" policy. God is, to many, many Dems. Beyond that, we need to underscore our embrace of freedom of religion, which includes non-belief, and slam it home that God is not owned by the Republicans. We need more voices like Sister Joan Chittister pointing out the discrepancies between action and words. Implying you are favored because you have faith does not negate the impact of the deeds done.
As long as we remain in this free-fall free for all, America loses. When Gingrich presented the contract with America, while unacceptable to half the nation, it did provide a clear rallying point for the Republicans. Dems need to find a center that not only unifies our party, but breaks down these perceptions, nearly all false, that are beginning to divide us as a nation. Perhaps rebuilding based on the vision of our founders can give us not only what we want, but what our country so desperately needs, a common national ideal. Divided nearly in half, we are so much less than what we have the potential to become.
As Ben Franklin noted, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.."