Being the Party of the Future

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.

Tags: Democrats (all tags)



Re: Being the Party of the Future

I agree with your post but not with Warner's and Bayh's choice of words. It still sounds like they're afraid of being Democrats. I'm tired of this "we need to move away from left-right and petty partisan". No we don't. The radical republicans are destroying the country. We being the opposition party, Democrats, our job is to stop that since we are the only alternative to wielding political power. When you appeal to the squishy middle, you implicitly say,
"It's OK to sit on the sidelines and not be political. Don't worry, just vote for us just this once and we promise you won't have to get politically active or actually align yourself with our party." F that. It's time for people to choose sides and take a page from George W. You're either with us or you're against us. Do you want more failed wars? Do you want $80 a barrel oil? Do you want your health insurance to always be something that can taken away at the drop of a hat? Do you want our roads, trains, and schools to continually be in disrepair so that Paris Hilton can get another tax break? Do you want us to continue to ignore global warming as hurricanes get worse and worse and ocean levels keep rising? Do you want our country to be hated and despised all around the world?

The center is dead. It's time for people to choose sides. Time for people to be citizens again.

by adamterando 2006-07-15 07:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Being the Party of the Future

Plain is misspelled.  It should be 'plane.'  I like the ideas, though!

by swessdog 2006-07-15 07:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Being the Party of the Future

Great comments!  I would only add that we must concentrate on the issues that make a difference in the daily lives of the majority.  We can't be hikjacked by the single issue groups.  If we can effectively sell ourselves as the party of the future, the single issues will take care of themselves.  The best example is the abortion issue; we've already won that issue, and the only way that it can be reveersed is by allowing this issue to cause us to turn on otherwise progressive candidates, thereby continuing to lose elections and allowing a republican president and congress to appoint right wing crazies to the courts.  There is no way that a democratic president and congress (even with a few dem. pro-lifers would have appointed Roberts or Alito.  We have solid majorities on social security, minimum wage, taxes, war, and almost all other issues.  We should ride these issues to a long term majority.  The more contentious issues like abortion, gay rights, etc. will take care of themselves with a progressive majority.

by joetalarico 2006-07-15 09:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Being the Party of the Future

In a world where Evan Bayh is a man of the future, I am a gentoo penguin.

by Davis X Machina 2006-07-15 09:32PM | 0 recs
Re: Being the Party of the Future

Fantastic post which I agree with 100%.  I have felt for a long time that the Dem party is not developing enough ideas to address the new problems that have arisen and I think this is one of the reasons we have been losing.  This is finally starting to change but it has been a long time coming.

I am all for preserving and protecting Social Security and Medicare.  They are great programs and have done a great deal to reduce poverty among seniors.  They should always be an important part of the Dem platform but they should not be the center piece anymore because there are many new problems which need to be addressed.  You mentioned a number of very important ones.  

Gary Hart is right that the world operates on a vertical plain and we have allowed the Repubs to position themselves as the party of new ideas for the future.  The Dems finally seem to be getting off the stick with ideas and solutions for the 21st Century while the Repubs cling to drilling in ANWR, etc.  This is a development that makes me very happy.

by John Mills 2006-07-15 09:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Being the Party of the Future

Could it be too early for dems to begin to attack "faith-based madness" and the worldwide bloodbath that is the result?  Rather than attempting to pander to the religious right, should dems not begin the criticism of what is patently the fundie desire for Christian superiority? Fundamentalist Christians, all their whining notwithstanding, have no desire for religious tolerance; rather, they seek dominance and as such should be seen in that light.

by TomChicago 2006-07-16 04:23AM | 0 recs


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