Friday, January 7, 2011

On Message

One item I have constantly remarked upon is the need to be able to ask a person on the street what the Democratic Party stands for and receive a good accurate answer. Ultimately, getting that answer is up to us because we have to provide it, promote it, believe it, rally for it, support it, stand fast on it, rely on it, and act on it.

There is demand within the party to simplify our message. There are many among us that look across the political landscape and envy the simple but always relentlessly on message jingoistic short sound bite mantras of the GOP and now the tea party. They won with such messaging it appears.

I for one do not believe we ought to simplify our core beliefs. Governing is complex; issues demand sophisticated approaches and nuance. But I do think supporting those core beliefs with an unadorned, direct hard hitting watchphrase is very appropriate.


Democratic Party members and voters roll up their sleeves and toil for a fair shake. We advocate for it in our workplaces, we support it in our approach to equal rights for all citizens, we push for it for the underprivileged, we seek it in how taxes are raised and used for the common good, we pursue it on environmental fronts to be fair to neighbor and the next generation, we champion it in education, we urge it in matters of justice, we strive toward it in economic policy, and we apply to every facet of societal responsibility.

If we carried such a central core belief into our politics, policy development, legislative undertakings, and governance when in power and principles when in opposition, and even into the recesses of our party structures, we might just become election winners again. The reason is simple, our living and breathing of such a message would be powerful because despite their current rise in power, Republicans do not ultimately live up to their messages.

Some of us might balk at such simplicity. That's understandable, we engage in politics for many diverse ideas, we struggle to put forth solutions to problems that require a degree of policy complexity. But that person on the street is not in the same place.

Perhaps that person will get there in approaching the vital concerns of our country in an engaged manner that has depth but we need to understand that it takes time, like swimming. First comes walking in the shallows with our catchphrase and developing an appreciation for it. Wading in deeper and learning about the brief bullet points of our platforms comes next. Risking a little depth and getting a deeper understanding of an issue or two of personal concern comes next. And finally strongly swimming toward vital goals to make our community, state, and country a far better place for now and the future can occur and perhaps even diving in as a party volunteer or public servant will as well.

We Democrats need to put forth this kind of progression in our politics. We need to appreciate every person at any point along this continuum and especially cultivate bringing in many with our core beliefs, expressed perhaps in a watchphrase upon which we can stay true to and earn their trust.

Maybe then I can walk down the street and ask somebody, "What do Democrats stand for?" Hearing a reply of, "Well they went all out to get that school funding right and paid attention to my spouse's health care, so it's like I keep hearing, Democrats work for fairness."

I do not propose "Democrats work for fairness" as the ultimate watchphrase for our Party. But I firmly believe we do need something like it and more importantly the approach to it and allegiance to it outlined above. And I also do believe that we ought to move in that direction without unintentionally kindly killing it by committee. We need to be off and running.

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