The reason I call this my finest work is that I originally published this on Clever Title and the D Triple C web team commented that they would pass my words along because they were, well, clever.
Let me preface this post by saying that as a blogger who only gets 3,000 hits a day, it’s pretty unlikely that the DNC or the D Triple C (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) is going to come looking to me for advice. This post just contains what I would tell them if they did. While Monday morning quarterbacks often seem incredibly pompous, the midterms are only two years away. We’ve got to get started if we’re going to be able to severely limit the president’s legislative power.
1. Take a look at Bill Clinton’s play book.
Bill Clinton became president by convincing people of two things. The first is that the money taken out of our checks every month goes toward building a better society. It’s how we pave roads, improve schools, care for the sick who have no money. With government programs, we are more able to accomplish our dreams. The second is that if elected, the American people would have a president who listened to them. Bill Clinton felt our pain, and he did it in a way that was neither patronizing nor cloying.
While John Kerry was eloquent, I often felt that his candidacy was more about getting people to listen to him… when what they really needed was for him to hear them.
2. Democrats need to start talking about Jesus
I’m not the first person to suggest this, and I won’t be the last. I am not the only liberal that is tired of the way the Radical Right has stolen and molested the messages of Christ to justify the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer. I’m also not the only liberal that’s getting tired of morality being disguised as fact. Liberal Christians need to present their side of the story. The Radical Right has been screaming unopposed for far too long. Why isn’t there a nationally-recognized Religious Left? Why don’t we create one?
3. The next Democratic presidential candidate needs to be African American, female, or both.
So far, W. has nominated a Hispanic man for Attorney General, and women for three key posts: Secretary of State, Secretary of Education, and White House Counsel. Do I even need to mention here that Condi Rice is also African American? It is my belief that the Republicans should not get away with their window-dressing of The White House to make themselves look like they are the party of inclusion.
It’s time to start grooming Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton before Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society is completely forgotten.
4. Democrats need to stay on message, and stop blaming Republicans when they get off.
It’s not doing any good for us to point out what the Republicans are doing. It is now perfectly clear that they are comfortable with breaking the law, and with covering their asses. Democrats need to concentrate on letting people know what they’re about- the Republicans are taking care of themselves.
5. Harry Reid needs to step up.
As the Minority Leader in the Senate, he is the most powerful Democrat in the nation. Especially while the Republicans control congress, he needs to be a pit bull… and here’s how he needs to do it. Alert people to Republicans’ dirty tricks via press conference once. Bring it up any more than that and we a) look like we’re whining b) look like we’re fighting dirty. The majority of the pit bull’s responsibility lies in explaining with a clear voice why Democrats don’t believe in the wording of a particular bill. I know that this is going to be difficult for Reid, because he’s never been all that vocal, but that has to fundamentally change. He’s our leader, and the most important job he has right now is to promote the fact that America is better off with the Democrats in charge.
That’s the short list, boys and girls. Anyone willing to add something is welcome.
6. No Child Left Behind is the biggest crock of shit I’ve ever seen in my life.
Bush’s big plan is to give some students vouchers to get out of the public school system, but the majority of the kids in the US will be left behind to fend for themselves. Why is this a problem? The president wants to introduce even more standardized testing so that learning becomes less of a well-rounded experience and more “if it’s not going to be on the test, why spend time learning it?” NCLB is also dangerous because teachers’ salaries are now being tied to their school’s performance on these standardized tests, which if you look at statistics nationally it means that there is going to be a mass exodus from schools in low-income areas because there is no incentive for teachers to stay there… except for, perhaps, what Fort Bend ISD calls “hazard pay.” If the school is dangerous enough that your belongings or your person is likely to be harmed, you are entitled to a small increase.
The Democrats need to find a viable alternative to this plan, and I would start by finding a way to pay all teachers more. YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ELSE IN LIFE IF YOU DON’T HAVE A TEACHER FIRST. This is not the 1800’s. There is no one-room schoolhouse with an old maid shacked up in the back. We are in the midst of a competitive global market, and it’s time to start rethinking schools.
If President Bush is able to implement this piece of legislation, it will do to our children and grandchildren what Reagan did to our mothers and fathers- fundamentally increase the disparity between poor and rich. We do not want a situation in which only 1o% of schools have the best teachers and materials because the rest just can’t afford it.