Friday, August 3, 2007

Consensus Versus Compromise

Have the Democrats fallen into yet another Red spin-trap? We know that The Newt's legacy is a divided nation reflected in a divided Congress (and that very word means coming together, not the divided house we now see). We elect people to represent us in Congress because we trust that they'll represent our values and pass legislation which reflects those beliefs, and not to spout good sound bites for C-Span.

Chairing our county Democratic committee means I get asked frequently about my presidential preference.

I feel that we went wrong in 2004 by putting our political pundit hats on, and voting for the candidate we felt was most "electable", rather than the one we like best. In other words, we voted with our heads, not our hearts.

I deal a lot with legislative candidates these days (and if you live in the 11 cities and towns of Maine Senate District 21 we are seriously looking for a good candidate, so reach out if you're interested). What I tell them is this: your #1 job is to inspire, to give people hope that things can be better and that you're committed to work with the voters to make that happen. Hope is the key, folks. If you convince the voter you and they can solve the problems we all see in government, you'll get their support.

Looking over the current field of presidential candidates, I can honestly say they seem to be talking at each other rather than lighting that fire, that belief and hope, in the hearts of the American people.

That may be why I like what I've been reading about Ted Strickland (D) Ohio. E.J. Dionne's original story in the Winchester Sun was republished in the Washington Post, and it's worth reading if you want a breath of political fresh air.

What might Democratic presidential candidates learn from Ohio? As a matter of style, Strickland suggests they understand that "people are desperately wanting to believe that political leaders understand them and that they are trying to deal with their day-to-day lives."Memo to overly cautious candidates: Strickland also thinks that "the display of genuine emotion is important."

Substantively, Strickland says the economy matters most, although he has been a strong opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning.

He sees health care and education as central - they were the key issues in his recent budget. These questions "ought to give Democrats a leg up," but only if they can "talk about these things in a way that gets people to believe you will do something about them."

There's the rub for Democrats in 2008. Voters want government to work but aren't sure that it can. They want government to solve problems but worry that it won't. This creates a strategic paradox: Democrats need to discredit Bush's government without discrediting government altogether.

Read the entire story; here's a link to the story in the Winchester Sun.

It's great to hear an elected Democrat who hasn't written off the Republicans, who works to build consensus without compromising his own beliefs. See folks, it be done, and I do wish I'd see more of it.

Anybody got any Strickland bumper stickers?

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