Friday, November 07, 2003

Agnosticism and the Culture War

Up until very recently I have had very little good to say about Howard Dean and his supporters (especially the latter). I have been a DLC Democrat ever since I switched parties in 1995. I am not ashamed to say that Bill Clinton persuaded me to become a Democrat. More than other politicians he demonstrated that to be a champion of equality one need not become an opponent of the free market and limited government. And until the last week or so, I truly believed that Wes Clark was the person to inherit the Clinton legacy.

Unfortunately I was wrong. Team Clark has been plagued with difficulties since entering the race and his recent comments about the Iraq War have started sounding a bit too much like John "I'm on all 8 sides of the issue" Kerry. Clark's missteps have given me pause to reconsider my own position with respect to the 2004 election and the future of our party and our country.

Tuesday's defeats in Kentucky and Mississippi, coupled with the Arnold's victory in California, leave me with the uneasy feeling that we may be going down in 2004. Too many of the serious candidates for the Democratic nomination believe they can finesse their way to the White House by placating their progressive base without alienating gun toting, Bible thumping conservatives who make up a fair portion of the voters in the South, Midwest and Sunbelt states. This is a losing strategy. Bill Clinton did not get to the White House on mealy mouthed platitudes. He had a bold agenda for a progressive government that was efficient and effective.

If we are to lose is 2004, I want us to go down fighting. I want us to take the Culture War to the conservatives! For too long we have been playing defense. We have been on our heels responding to attacks that we are babykiller, sodomites and tree huggers. As a party, we need to be on the attack against our enemies. We need to make a persuasive case to the American people why equal marriage rights are in line with core American values of freedom and equality. We need to show the people just how the current administration is leading us back to the Dark Ages, driven by a cabal of religious ideologues. We need to explain to the people how Bush's misguided foreign policy is making us less safe. We need to remind the American people that Bush FOUGHT against a Homeland Security Department, fought to keep secret information relating to Saudi ties to terrorism, fought to stonewall the 9-11 Commission. We need to show the middle class how this President's economic policies have thrown us into the sinkhole of a jobless recovery, how this President pays lip service to capitalism and free enterprise while handsomely rewarding his campaign donors with corporate welfare, how Bush's program of borrow and spend will dry up Social Security, stymie private investment and create a huge debt that their children will have to pay.

We need a candidate who will stand up to Team Bush and fight them head on, without compromise and without taking prisoners. And while I claim to be agnostic with respect to the P2004 race, I am certainly aware that only one candidate has thus far exhibited the qualities I made mention of above, Howard Dean.

What a difference a month can make!


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