Toward a Working Democratic Message

The Democratic Party has failed to articulate a reason to support Democratic governance. “We’re not those lunatics” is not enough.

The Democratic Party believes that government can be a force for good. We believe that the government is able to  “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.” We have to tell the people this, every day all day. Until they understand this there is no point to say anything else.

This is convenient, because the above quote comes directly from the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. We stand directly in the tradition of the founders of the United States in our belief.

Unfortunately, a sizable portion of the American population has been convinced that the founders never intended any such thing, in spite of the evidence of their own words. This is proof that we Democrats have failed utterly to communicate our ideals and to link them to the roots of American governing and tradition. People who call themselves Conservatives, implying that they stand for American tradition, have convinced many people – enough to win most elections – that the framers wanted a crippled government that was barely able to collect taxes or deliver the mail. They have delivered the government they promised. By and large Americans are not happy with it, but somehow they believe that crippling the government even more will fix it.

This is not the fault of Conservatives. They are selling the exact message they intend to sell. Why they do so is not relevant. It is our fault. We have not sold our message.

When Democrats talk about government we talk about details. We publish white papers and talk about policy. We will do this thing and that thing. We will provide a level playing field for people regardless of their skin color or sexual orientation. We will build this or that. It’s all well and good, but it is an abject failure.

When Republicans talk about government they talk about a big picture. No details. Government is the problem, they say. Government can’t do anything right. Government is a burden on the American people. While they are selling this big picture we talk about gender equality and infrastructure.

Can’t we see? Can’t we admit the obvious? We are dying out here.

Republicans absolutely control 25 states, both the governorship and the legislature. For Democrats that number is 6.

Republicans control the Federal government. Republicans hold the presidency and both houses of Congress.

There is no elected statewide office in the country, from Governor to Natural Resources commissioner to Labor commissioner, in which Democratic control outnumbers Republican control. Not one.

If the Democratic party does not learn to present our message in a way that will make sense to, and give hope to, a majority of Americans, we might as well just turn off the lights and go home.

So what are we doing? We’re squabbling about whether the left, the far left, the center left, Liberals or Progressives, Black or White or Hispanic or some other subgroup has too much power, not enough power, whether we should … ah, you know. We’re squabbling about details.

We’re dying out here. Does anybody care? Does anybody want to fix it?

There are about 330 million Americans. Roughly 219 million of them are qualified to vote. We need to talk to all of them. Every single one. Yes, there are issues common to all of us. We have to talk on that level: what can we do for all Americans, and why should they want us to? We need to offer a vision of government which stands firmly in the tradition of the founders and which flatly denies and refutes the current prevailing view.

Government has a purpose. The United States Government was designed from the beginning to do all these things:

  • Establish Justice
  • Insure Domestic Tranquility
  • Provide for the common defense
  • Promote the general welfare
  • Secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity

It says so right there in the Preamble to the Constitution. This can’t possibly be that hard a message to sell. Why won’t we sell it?

When was the last time a Democratic politician told you that promoting the general welfare was as important and legitimate a function of our government as providing for the common defense? When was the last time that any American politician told you that? There is not one single place in our Constitution where providing for the common defense is mentioned alone. In every single case it is coupled with promoting the general welfare. Every single case. These are the twin fundamental functions of our Federal government.

If our government is obliged to provide for the common defense, and I am not aware of any dispute to that, then it is  equally obliged to promote the general welfare. Democrats have failed to make that case.

If the Democratic Party continues to fail to offer a competing message to the Republican message that government does no good and all bad, we are finished. Forever. Call the undertaker.

No details. No white papers. No twelve point plans. No policy wonks. One simple message: Government, the United States government, exists to make people’s lives better. It was designed that way from the beginning. Anybody who tells you different is lying to you. It’s right there in our Constitution, at the very beginning of our Constitution, in no uncertain terms. Government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the Earth.

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4 thoughts on “Toward a Working Democratic Message”

  1. Totally agree. I was quite surprised that there is such a rift between the liberals & Democrats. Unity is definitely needed here and now. Perhaps, change the name to appease all sides i.e. the Constitutional party, which says it all. And while I’m at it, since the word government is not positive . Perhaps, Real Democracy works. just throwing it out.

    1. I’ve been thinking more in your face. Government Works Party, shorthand Works Party. Like when I was a hippy – they called us freaks, we took it and ran. Well, like the Deplorables are doing now. We believe in government, we ought to face that truth proudly.

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