Democrats Need to Stand Up Now

The Democratic Party and I agree on one central truth, namely that President George W. Bush is a colossal failure. To put it kindly, his oratorical malfunctions and cowboy demeanor don’t exactly help America put its best foot forward. To be more truthful, his abysmal track record on the environment, civil liberties and foreign policy have damaged our nation in ways that will take us years (if we’re lucky) to correct.
But this article is not about the continued disaster that is our current president. It’s about the opposition party, the Democrats. True, they’re not Bush. Yet frankly, as of late, they haven’t been much of anything else either.
That the Democrats and their leaders are not Bush, that they have in some capacity opposed the man or his policies, has in the past few years been the party’s calling card. Bush is an idiot, a failure; thus, they reason that simply by being the opposition they are positioning themselves for a flood of supporters.
Wake up, Democrats. Where are they, these millions of Americans disgusted with the current administration? Why are they not beating down your doors, pledging their undying support, and (more importantly) their votes?
Here’s why: They feel forsaken. While you were so busy not being Bush, where were your realistic plans for healthcare and immigration reform? What were you doing about citizens losing their jobs to outsourcing and about horribly substandard inner city education? Why were you ignoring people of faith?
The Democrats, who not so long ago were enjoying their heyday as the labor-loving party of the people, no longer have their finger on the pulse of America. In fact, they’re nowhere near the body. Democrats have been cast as the party of ‘special interests’ by conservatives, who conversely position themselves as the upholders of the sacred middle-American ‘family values.’
When the Democrats don’t even protest this label, what is Average Joe supposed to think? As a standard citizen, he doesn’t fit into a ‘special interest’ niche, does he? Well, if he cares about personal liberty, social justice or women’s rights, or he’s poor, a minority, gay, anti-war or an environmentalist, he fits right into one of the supposed ‘niches’ of the Democratic Party. This covers an awful lot of the American populace.
In addition, the conservative hijacking of religion and so-called ‘family values’ implies that Democrats are uninterested in the 90 percent of the country that believes in some kind of god. This is simply not so, and the abandonment of this sector of the populace to the conservatives is one of the Democrats’ largest failings. Not every liberal is pro-choice or pro-gay marriage. Even those who are would certainly be willing to work with the run-of-the-mill people of faith who just want their beliefs respected, not legislated.
Is this being broadcast from the rooftops? Does middle-America know that, in fact, the Democratic party is composed of people just like them? They don’t, because the Democrats are misdirecting their bluster. Everyone knows Bush is an idiot. Not everyone knows that there’s a viable alternative. This brings us to the crux of the problem. Does a viable alternative exist?
I believe it does. However, it depends on the Democratic Party moving beyond the Bush-bashing and beginning to do some actual work, both on its image and for the nation.
The Democrats’ first objective must be to demonstrate some spine. They need to stand up for themselves, stop allowing conservatives to define them and show the American public that they truly are the party of the people and that they’re willing to strive to regain their trust.
Then they need to do some serious work. Remember those realistic plans for healthcare and immigration? Let’s hear them. The public education system is in need of a severe overhaul. Let’s see it happen instead of hear how it’s someone else’s fault. Organized religion is a fact of American life; make it clear that people of faith are welcome and central to a progressive vision of this country.
You don’t have to be a liberal to be disheartened by the current political situation. You do, however, have to do something about it. The November elections are coming up fast. Let’s surprise our politicians