Column No. 107 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - May 25, 2006
With this column I return to the subject of politics and the Democratic Party that I have addressed in two previous series, the one on the Kerry Campaign in the summer of 2004, and the one entitled “The Future of the Democratic Party” in the fall of 2005. As with the classic bridal gown, there will be something(s) old, something(s) new, something(s) borrowed and something(s) blue, which is what we all be (actually much worse) should we be unable to derail the Georgite theocratic fascist juggernaut. The first absolutely essential step in doing that will be to take over at least one house of Congress this fall, regardless of what Adam Nagourney had to say in the News of the Week in Review in The New York Times of May 14, 2006 (“Hey Democrats, Why Win?” a topic to which I shall return in a future column).
In a front page article in The New York Times on May 9, 2006 (“Optimistic, Democrats Debate the Party's Vision”) Robin Toner said:
“With Democrats increasingly optimistic about this year's midterm elections and the landscape for 2008, intellectuals in the center and on the left are debating how to sharpen the party's identity and present a clear alternative to the conservatism that has dominated political thought for a generation. . . . . But some of these analysts argue that the party needs something more than a pastiche of policy proposals. It needs a broader vision, a narrative, they say, to return to power and govern effectively.” To which I say, Amen.
I also say that such statements are nothing new. On the Op-Ed page of The New York Times of November 4, 2004, Andrei Cherny, a former senior staffer for both Sen. Gore and Sen. Kerry, wrote: “The overarching problem Democrats have today is the lack of a clear sense of what the party stands for. . . . Democrats have a collection of policy positions that are sensible and right. . . . What we don’t have and what we sorely need is . . . a worldview that makes a thematic argument about where America is headed and where we want to take it.”
In The New York Times of May 26, 2003, there was a front-page story by my high school classmate Adam Clymer about the state of the Democratic Party. Adam told us that what all of the Democratic Party leaders and outside observers alike, even the DLC people quoted, agreed upon is that what we need is: a new "clear identity," the ability "to think strategically" (Peter Hart), a "better message," to "stand for something" (Bob Strauss), to be able to "show that we can make progressive government work" (Will Marshall), "to move away from incremental new reforms to big and broad issues" (Bill Carrick).
But when I said “nothing new,” I really meant “nothing new.” In a New York Times article on September 25, 1987, the journalist E.J. Dionne wrote: “All Democrats have been searching for language to call America away from the individualism of the Reagan years to a new sense of community.” We Democrats have not found that language yet. If we had, we have won the Presidency the last time around, despite the Georgite cheating machine. In an article in The Washington Post of Nov. 9, 2004 (yes, although I have been reading the Times since I was age 7, I do see other papers from time to time), Dionne pointed out that a significant number of people who agreed with the Democrats and disagreed with Bush on individual policy issues voted for him anyway, in part because of the lack of an overall vision on the part of the Democrats and the presence of one (although we would strongly disagree with its content) on the part of the Georgites. Finally finding that vision will be crucially important for beginning the Democratic comeback in 2006 that will be necessary if our country is to be saved from the worst outcomes of Georgite policies down the road of history.
As some of you know, in 1992, I published a book entitled The New Americanism: How the Democratic Party Can Win the Presidency. In the book, I proposed a “broad, embracing, expansive vision” for the Democratic Party, for its then present and the nation’s future. I believe that it is still very much what the doctor ordered for the Democratic Party. In brief, it is a simple concept with a precise mission: to find the new grand vision for the Democratic Party, to find the bed-rock foundation upon which both the traditional agenda and the 21st century agenda of the Democratic Party can be established, to find the language and the civil weapons that our nation needs if the determined Georgite assault on, yes, American Constitutional Democracy as we have known it for 200 years, is to be halted in its tracks.
Ever since the New Deal, the principal political divide between Democrats and Republicans has been over the role of government in our nation and our national policy. Republicans want it as small as possible in dealing with the economy, as big as possible in controlling and restricting personal rights and liberties. Democrats generally take the opposite view. Previously both sides have had some shadings on their positions. Georgite Republicanism has none. Not only have they adopted the Grover Norquist “sink it to the size of a bathtub and then drown it in the bathtub” program for any positive functions of government, but they also most obviously want to establish a government of, by, and for the repression and oppression of any citizens of our great nation who oppose their social, their economic, or their foreign polices. I originally envisioned The New Americanism as a sort of elegant marketing program for the traditional Democratic agenda. Now the struggle is clearly over whether the United States will continue as a Constitutional Democracy or not. Thus, with all immodesty, I now view my proposal as the first political weapon which should be put onto the field of political battle in order to stop the Georgites once and for all.
The New Americanism finds the proposed “Vision for the Democrats” in the very founding documents of our great nation. The New Americanism projects a grand, integrated, overarching, forward-looking domestic and foreign policy based upon the principles of, yes, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Together they provide the Statement of Purpose for our nation, the Statement of Purpose of our National Government, and the Primary Functions of that Government in achieving in the stated Purpose.
Our National Purpose is made clear by the Declaration: to demonstrate unequivocally that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness . . .”
The primary Purpose of our National Government is also made clear in the Declaration: “[T]o secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men.”
The Primary functions of our National Government in achieving this purpose are spelled out in the Preamble to the Constitution:
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Why this is enough to make a strict constructionist out of anyone (other than the Georgites, of course)! And so I present to you, dear reader, my proposal for, as Andrei Cherny put it, “a [Democratic] worldview that makes a thematic argument about where America is headed and where we want to take it.” I do hope that it may prove useful.