Being the Party of the Future
by Jonathan Singer, Sat Jul 15, 2006 at 06:45:07 PM EDT
The latest numbers out of the Commerce Department -- that sales dipped two-tenths of a percent (excluding gasoline) over the last month after economists had predicted an increase of 0.4 percent -- represent a disappointing setback for the American economy, yet another indication that the Bush administration's antiquated borrow-and-spend policies have not succeeded in improving the lives of all Americans.
We don't have to work hard to convince voters that the economy could be better or that the counry needs to go in a new direction. Already, between 60 percent and 70 percent of Americans believe that the country is moving in the wrong direction. What we do need to do, however, is tap into this overwhelming sentiment that things just aren't quite as good as they could be. We have to prove to voters that we are the party of the future, not the past.
A number of candidates are already using the right kind of rhetoric. The Hotline notes that both Evan Bayh and Mark Warner are weaving this language into their speeches. This talk actually reminds me of something Gary Hart said in an interview posted on this site back in 2004.
Well, I have always resisted the categorization, if you will, on a horizontal plain. This is Washington-speak and it's a journalistic conceit which says politics operated on a horizontal plain--left, center and right--when in fact life is lived on a vertical plain of the past and the future. If you diagram this, you would have a horizontal line that would be conventional political wisdom and then that would be bisected by a vertical line that would represent the future and the past.
What I've always argued is that the Democratic party has to be the liberal party or the party of the left, if you will, but it also has to be the party of the future. And in fact how you achieve the progressive agenda of the liberals is to be a party of change, and if you stagnate and do not become a party of change--that is at the top of the vertical line--then you begin to lose, and that is what's happened to the party in the past 25 or 30 years. [emphasis added]
There is no need to give up on the Democratic programs that have made America great such as Social Security and Medicare. There isn't even a need to drastically change these programs. Nevertheless, the Democrats -- and in particular progressives within the party -- need to offer more than minor fixes and pleasant rhetoric.
Republicans cannot be allowed to portray themselves as the party of the future. But just the same, the third way elements of the Democratic Party cannot be allowed to hijack the agenda by presenting a more forward-thinking set of policies and rhetoric.
I am confident that the progressive movement has the future-minded ideas to achieve this goal. Whereas Republicans are for enabling corporations to clamp down on the internet, we are fighting to maintain the freedom that will help Americans earn more and accomplish more in the future. While Republicans are cutting college loans and even raising taxes on teenagers saving for their education, progressives are battling to improve our eduation system so that we can be competitive throughout the 21st century. While Republicans call for more drilling for oil -- a 19th century technology -- progressives are pushing to fund the new technologies that will provide more than sufficient energy to keep our economy moving forward. The list goes on.
We can and must be the party of the future and progressives the force for change within the country. That is our necessity and it is our destiny.