Friday, June 24, 2005

Thoughts on the Democratic message

EMILY's List has just released their most recent Women's Monitor poll, and the news for Democrats in it is heartening. Since the 2004 election there has been a massive shift(about 20 percentage points) in the attitudes of women against the Republican party. While this is good news, it's important to remember that the mid-term election is still 16 months away, and in politics that's a lifetime.

Digging a bit deeper this poll, as well as other recent ones, gives Democrats running for Congress some useful themes around which to craft their message. Here are a few thoughts that I in exploring these themes:

  • Abortion rights needs to be subsumed into an overarching support for privacy rights. I am by no means suggesting that abortion rights should be abandoned or curtailed; however, while most people (including most women) support some controls over abortion, general privacy rights are viewed much more favorably.

    [W]omen...believe that Republicans have overstepped the bounds on issues of privacy and on the relationship between religion and science. Even women who are uncomfortable with abortion rights do not believe strongly that government should dictate morality or that scientific progress should be proscribed by religion.

    I would suggest framing the issue like this:

    The government should not be forcing the morality of a small minority on the whole nation. If a person honestly believes that embryonic stem cell research is immoral, then let them choose to forego the benefits that may come from it; but don't impose on the rest of us a ban on potential cures for a range of devistating diseases, from Parkinsons to Alzheimers to cancer, and many more.

    If a person believes that medical care and life support should be continued in all circumstances, even beyond all hope for recovery, then let them decide that for themselves; but others who believe differently and tell this to their spouse and family, or put this in a Living Will, should be allowed to decide for themselves when their life should be allowed to end naturally and peacefully.

    If a person believes that birth control is immoral, no one is forcing them to use it. However, when a woman and her doctor decide that birth control is right for her, no one should be allowed to step between them and insert their own morality instead.

  • The war in Iraq and terrorism are currently polling at a lower priority than they were in the Presidental election. It's important to remember that this can change on a dime. In addition, I would recommend having a strong position on this because Rove's Rule does have validity - attack your opponent where he is strongest.

    The Democrats have consistently been on the losing side of this issue and there is no reason for that, we need to reframe the debate on this issue: The war in Iraq has made us more vulnerable to terrorism, not less; more vulnerable to rogue nations, not less.

    The administration has gotten us into this awful mess in Iraq: making us less safe, costing the lives of our brave military men and women, costing us hundreds of billions of dollars, and decimating our credibility around the world - credibility that necessary for cooperation to prevent international terrorism. We now need people in Congress who are willing to clean up that mess.

    As we have become increasingly aware over the past several months, the Bush administration lied to the country, and lied to Congress, in order to drag us into a war that makes us less secure against international terrorism. Instead of continuing the hunt for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida we diverted resources to attack a country that was a long-term threat at best. Our country faces many threats around the world, but the Bush adminstration lied so that we would wastefully attack a minor threat while leaving several greater threats un heeded.

    The administration ignored military advice, went in with too few troops, and didn't plan for the occupation that we are now stuck in. Because we didn't have the manpower, hundreds of tons of high-explosives kept by Saddam's regieme could not be secured and are now being used everyday to kill our troops, Iraqi security forces, and thousands upon thousands of civilians.

    As Afghanistan was in the 1980's, Iraq has now become the training ground for a whole new generation of terrorists; and when this war is finally over they will spread around the middle east and the world practicing their deadly trade against civilians everywhere.

    And we, the country that should be a shining beacon of justice and hope, have decended to the depths of torturer and pariah.

    As will be pointed out, many current Democratic members of Congress voted in support of invading Iraq. There is no need to equivocate. The Bush adminstration lied. That is why we are there.

  • Under the guise of "values" issues, the Republicans will try to bring up gay marriage. The focus has to be changed to civil unions. Personally, I support gay marriage. I absolutely believe that it is right. However, the majority of the country disagrees with me. What the majority does support is civil unions and the focus on gay marriage is hurting that middle step.

    Last election, in every state in which an "anti-gay marriage" amendment was on the ballot, that amendment passed. What is worse is that in most cases, those amendments not only banned gay marriage but also eliminated civil unions. At the moment in most places, gay marriage is too much to ask, civil unions are not.

    I would suggest using language like this:

    Around the country, loving couples are unable to visit one another in the hospital. Around the country, loving couples are unable to leave their worldly possessions to each other. Around the country, loving couples are discriminated against in a thousand small ways. This is not right. This is not how we should treat each other.
  • Healthcare is an issue that plays well for the Democrats. We are trusted on this issue more than Republicans. We should take our strength and increase it by playing up the fact that Healthcare reform is pro-business, as well as pro-family.

    Right now, Healthcare costs are a huge drag on the companies that employ us and drive our economy. General Motors, for example, has announced that they are laying off 25,000 workers in no small part due to the rise in healtcare costs. So not only are each of us having to pay higher and higher prices for healthcare, but many of us are also losing our jobs because of this problem putting the health and security of our families in ever greater risk.

    In addition, because of the Republicans, Medicare is not allowed to negotiate with drug companies for the best prices. Who pays for this windfall for the drug companies? You do. I do. Our parents and grandparents do. It is more important to the Republicans that drug company money continues flowing into their campaign coffers than the fact that our seniors are being bled dry by these corporate pirates.

  • Social Security is currently a significant strength for the Democrats and the Republicans are beginning to shun it.

    As long as the status quo remains superior to any of the Republicans attempts to gut the our social saftey net, there is no need to change our strategy. To the extent that comment on the issue is necessary, I'd suggest something like this:

    The Democrats have sworn to protect Social Security from the predations of this administration, and we will continue to do this until the Republians finally realize that our saftey net to protects all of us. It needs to be strengthened, not removed.
  • And finally the issue that Democrats are most trusted on: the Environment. We need to call out the adminstration for being environmentalists in name only.

    The Bush administration has not only ignored the advice of their own scientists, the administration has rewritten those scientists' conclusions to suit their corporate donors.

    They call themselves environmentalists but this administration's Clear Skies bill eviscerates pollution controls and lead to more lung disease, more deaths. They call themselves environmentalists but they increase the amount of mercury that is allowed in our drinking water. They call themselves environmentalists but the Healthy Forests Initiative gifts our national forests to private businesses. They are not environmentalists, they have never been environmentalists, and until they realize that our life, our health and our world demand good stewardship on our part, they will never be environmentalists.

These are my suggestions. I am a Democrat. I know that our positions are better for our country than what the Republicans are trying to foist upon us, but unless we stop bearing our throats and fight back, issue by issue, we will never be able to prove it.


Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.

5:57 PM  

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