Tuesday, November 15, 2005



For the last five years the Republican controlled House and Senate have offered bill after bill filled with what they believe are solutions to problems pervasive to this country. The Prescription Drug Benefit, the Highway Bill, the Bankruptcy Bill, No Child Left Behind. The list goes on and on. There are other issues the Republicans have taken strong positions on and outlined them extensively: Iraq, Katrina, the Budget, Social Security.

For better or for worse, the Republicans are offering strategies to deal with the problems of the day, whether we like those solutions or not. This is a good thing, whether we like their solutions or not.

It’s my belief that in order for the Democrats to reclaim power, they need to offer productive and reasonable solutions to counter those presented by the opposition. The status quo seems to be this: Republicans define the debate, they pick an issue and write legislation to fix their view of the problem. Democrats hate said legislation and decry the Republicans for partisan hackery and corporate shilling. Sadly, that’s where the cycle generally ends. If the Democrats want to lift themselves from their slump, now that they seem to be feeling empowered, they need to offer sensible solutions in direct response to Republican solutions.

Democrats tend to be against the war. We’d like to see our troops home. The most people in the party seem to be doing is calling for an exit-strategy. Why not outline a clear exit-strategy? Instead of shouting, “There isn’t an exit-strategy!” They’d gain a lot more ground politically if they were to be shouting, “The administration has no exit-strategy. We do, here it is. We’ve mailed this to the President and had 150 Senators and Congressmen sign it.”

The Democrats heads have been spinning because of the recent budget proposals. Instead of argue about the ridiculous nature of the cuts to spending and maintenance on the tax-cuts, why don’t they offer a sensible budget alternative?

I think you get my point. In order to appear strong, instead of fighting about the issues and solutions framed by the opposition, reframe the debates with better solutions.

I know that Democrats have a clear message, a vision to take America into a better place where people are cared for and everyone gets a fair shake. They are losing on these issues because of an inability to communicate this vision to the American people. The Democrats will win on all of their core issues. Yes, the majority of Americans want stricter environmental laws. Yes, the majority of Americans want higher corporate accountability. Yes, the majority of Americans would like to see a decreased dependence on foreign oil. Yes, the majority of Americans would like us to be out of Iraq. Yes, the majority of Americans want social safety nets. Yes, the majority of Americans want to keep guns out of our schools. Yes, the majority of Americans want women to be paid as much as men. Yes, the majority of Americans would like to see less discrimination in this country. Yes, the majority of Americans would like to see a balanced budget. I can go on and on. For some reason, the Democrats haven’t been able to start on a list like this.

Instead, the best argument I’ve heard out of the Democrats for the last 5 years has been, “I’m not Bush.” In my opinion, for the Democrats to make their way out of the hole they've been in for the last 6 years, they will need to be on the offensive insofar as framing the debate. They need to offer the American people a clear vision of where they want to take us and they need to offer realistic plans to get there. And whenever the Republicans choose an issue and run with it, the Democrats need to hijack that issue and offer a better plan to put themselves in the favour of the people.

They can do better than this. I know it.

As soon as the shining stars of the Democratic party that Steve outlined yesterday are able to take this platform to the American people they'll be able to get back to work.

Here are my six platform points that I believe would bring the Democrats to victory:

1) Iraq. The Democrats need come out and say that voting for the war was a mistake. That's obvious. And instead of calling for an exit strategy, make one. It's obvious that we can't withdraw our troops immediately, but we can outline certain benchmarks that will remove our forces from the region. Additionally, we need to make a call for broader UN support. One of the reasons terrorists wish to attack us is because we are in their land, so if we shift the forces from American and Coalition to a UN peacekeeping operation, the level and intensity of insurgent attacks would come down. We also need to remove ourselves from their democratic process.

During the Mid terms, this is obviously going to be a major issue. If Democratic candidates can rally behind a comprehensive exit strategy as part of their platform, they will be one step ahead of the Republicans whose exit strategy has been simply, "Stay the course."

2) The Budget. There has been no limit to outrageous deficit spending, tax cuts and severe cuts to vital programs. There has been much outrage and little action on the part of the Democrats currently to solve this problem. The Democrats can win many voters from both sides of the aisle on this issue and here's how. "We'll bring sanity back to the budget. We will balance it. We won't spend more money than we're making and we won't outsource our debt."

There is no question that we have in power a gaggle of "Un-tax and Spend" conservatives. There is no question that they have marginalized those in their party that believe in fiscal conservatism. If you ask me, fiscal conservatism is common sense. Democrats can frame the debate in a very easy and catchy way: "The Bush administration and the Republicans in the House and Senate have deficit spent hundreds of billions of dollars on America's tab that they have no way to pay back. That would be like you running up a BILLION dollars on your company credit card, switching jobs and handing it over to your successor to figure out how to pay for it as you wash your hands of it. I don't know about you, but I think that's going to cost a lot in interest and that's exactly what's going on here." Bring this issue down to a level people of both sides will understand and you will win votes right here.

3) Social Security. This is the best way for the Democrats to draw attention to the hypocricies of the current Republican cabal while at the same time coming out in defense of an issue that has proved important. It's obvious the majority of American's don't agree with George Bush's ideas about Social Security and the Democrats had a chance to force the issue and counter-propose popular legislation that would fix the problem and serve as a major political defeat for the Bush team. They didn't do this. But now they have another chance and it would be foolish to pass it up because we all already know the Republicans have been losing on this issue for two years. And, in my opinion, the solution is simple and two pronged:

a) include in the Budget provisions to pay back all the extra money raided out of Social Security over the last few decades. Each agency that has benefited from Social Security's prosperity ought to be able to cut some type of fat out of their budget to pay back the money they owe.
b) eliminate the salary cap on the Social Security tax.

Viola! Once again, Social Security becomes solvent and you've won over all of the Baby Boomers hoping to rely on it.

4) Health Care. This is an issue that Democrats mention over and over and over again and people are tired of hearing about it and nothing getting done. But there is no reason why we can't figure out a way to provide every American with affordable (or free) Health Care. This is a chance to have a meaningful debate with conservatives and show the world that Democrats aren't Republicans in bad suits. You'd also win the vote of every person that can't afford Health Care. And Jimmy Smits wasn't far off on the West Wing when he suggested removing the words "over 65" from Medicare.

Yes, it would be controversial, but wouldn't you rather have people talking about this than the regular hot-button issues that get voters hopping mad? Issues like abortion and prayer in school and whether burning the flag should be against the law. Democrats need to force the idea into the dicourse that we need to take care of our people and the first step is making sure they can see a doctor if they're sick, no matter what.

Just see what happens when the Republicans come on TV and try defend the idea that people don't deserve to have Health Care. It's a losing argument and there are enough people without insurance or other forms of Health Care that wouldn't normally vote that you could lure to the polling stations with the promise that they would get free Health Care out of it.

Besides that, it's the morally right thing to do. You can win the Christian vote on this one as well by relating it back to the bible and about taking care of the poor and the sick and the weak.

5) Corporate Accountability. Enron, WorldCom, Halliburton, Phillip Morris, McDonalds, Walmart, Exxon/Mobil, Jack Abramof, Monsanto. These have all become synonymous with corruption and it is taken for granted that they have enough money in their pockets to buy any amount of congressmen and presidents or vice presidents to screw John Q. Consumer. I think the Democratic party needs to sever themselves from corporations. I know that sounds crazy, and I know that the Democrats are having a hard time fundraising as it is, but it would be the best PR move in the world to say, "We are no longer beholden to Corporate Interests and Political Action Committees. We will no longer take their money. We are going to ensure that there is a barrier between legislators and private interest. What we do will be the best for the people and the best for the people is Corporate Accountability. And the best first step is to sever all ties with private entities."

Now this issue leads into other issues like campaign finance reform and whatnot, but it's a major one. People are out there doing all they can to make sure people know about all of the horrible things these companies do. Why not put those efforts to work and be able to tie all of that evil to the opposition. "They are the party of corporate interest. Once again, we will fight for you."

Political campaigns have turned into Nascar Racers and people know it. If the Democrats can step away from that and raise enough money to make sure everyone knows it, they'll be clearly the more trustworthy group.

6) Homeland Security. The way the Democrats can take this issue back is simple. "We understand more about our enemy than our opponents do. Our opponents have made no effort to understand the enemy and we have. We understand why Abu Ghraib makes the situation worse. We understand why Iraq is having the opposite effect on terrorism that the administration. We understand why we have to be held to a higher moral standard. We know what it takes to keep America safe and it's our moral obligation to do it."

Jimmy Carter said on Larry King the other night, "After 9/11 I picked up a copy of the Quran and read it cover to cover. I now understand more about the Islamic Faith and learned more about how certain fundamentalists have perverted that religion into a violent sect of death and destruction. I think our leaders need to know more about why these terrorists hate America."

That's brilliant. And that needs to be part of the message of the Democrats.

But they can't just say, "We understand them better, so we're better suited for the job." They need to back it up with a comprehensive Homeland Security plan that will illustrate to the American people how they are going to be able to sleep more soundly under a Democratic watch. Kerry tried this unsuccesfully during the last campaign, but this can be stepped up with a clear plan of action.

So, that's it. Obviously, there are more issues at hand, but these are the main 6, in my opinion, that will take the Democratic party back where they belong. There are two honorable mentions that need to be addressed and perhaps I'll outline them later and they are: Immigration and Torture.

...TO BE CONTINUED tomorrow with Elias' satirical piece, "ZULA '08". Steve and/or I will also be here with a piece. Then on Friday, Steve and I will both be back for Conclusions.


LindseyD said...

Most excellent so far. Can't wait for the rest! You're sooo right I'm getting energized just reading it...lol. I know, I'm easy.


Anonymous said...

Social Security is not as easily remedied as you propose. I find W's plan vague and impractical, but the bottom line is FORGET THE BABY BOOMERS! They're funded. Period. The Social Security fund will be solvent until they're all safely in their graves, in the mid to late 2020's. It has nothing to do with the Bush administration, or any administration. It is simply a dated program that, because of the simple math involving the BOOMERS, cannot sustain itself. Our generation is putting into a fund that WILL NOT offer us one retirement benefit. And the BOOMERS don't care - they thumb their noses at us, saying "too bad, but it's not our problem". Their sense of concern for the security of future generations is nada. That, my friend, is why revamping Social Security has been taboo - for any administration: they know that the retirees have the time & means to rock the vote, so don't rock their boat.

JulieB said...

thanks for the email re: your discussion here. I'll come back later to comment more and pick out some quotes for my site...

Anonymous said...

I disagree COMPLETELY with Murtha, but I RESPECT HIM for having the courage to speak his mind in clear, concrete terms. Let's watch the vote tonight and see who has the balls to "take the hill" with this Marine? I predict that he will be one more Marine abandoned by the democrats... Democrats who care more about their re-election than standing for anything. Go ahead and trash me now in your replies, but get up in the morning, read your paper and then tell me I am wrong.

Sorry, you can’t have it both ways all the time. Time to put up or shut up… wait a minute… that requires honor. The Dems will vote to stay put, but demand we withdrawal. As Dan Rather would say… COURAGE!!!