Vol. 12, No. 2,856W - The American Reporter - March 18, 2006

Free Speech

by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Bradenton, Fla.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Mr. Chairman, today we are reading fantastic poll numbers from AOL and other places that surely ought to revive our hopes and renew our determination to take back dozens of Congressional and Senate seats this year, and the White House three years from now.

The President is losing support on every front, from the War in Iraq to social security and his core agenda items. But how significant is are those numbers compared to the well-oiled, well-oriented Republican machines that are up and running every day of the year here in Manatee County and everywhere across the nation - with the exception, I guess, of California?

Those poll numbers remind me a lot of Dean's numbers before Iowa and Kerry's numbers after New Hampshire. Remember those juicy 20-point leads?

The AOL poll is particularly meaningless as it doesn't qualify its voters, and I often think of it as a way for Republicans to start luring us again into false security.

But our problem is not that we didn't work hard enough in 2000 or 2004. Our problem is that we don't have a message or candidates who can authentically appeal to the vast majority of American voters. In our local races we need conservative Democrats, or at least very moderate ones, and preferably ones associated with the Christian conservative faiths like the Church of God, Assembly of God, and the like, not Catholics, Episcopalians and Unitarians; in our national races we need moderate-to-conservative Democratic Congressional candidates and in Senate races moderate Democrats like Bill Nelson.

But when we look at who we are as a DEC, we are not moderate and we discourage conservatives who reflect the general population we ask to support us, and we have no basis for local appeal at all.

We are so focused as a DEC on national issues like health care and social security and ending the war that we have marched lockstep into a niche that has defined us as anti-Christian, anti-doctor, anti-insurance, anti-business, pro-tax, pro-abortion and pro-welfare.

Our campaigns actually descend into one big race-oriented registration drive that seeks to register black voters and then get them out to vote, leaving the vast majority of our white, well-educated voters unaddressed. These are losing strategies.

We're all about herding voters into the Big Tent, while Republicans are figuratively all about massive outdoor rallies. Last year at the state party meeting in Tallahassee where I ran for delegate, there was room for delegates who were gay but not for ordinary straight people, with the result that people who were not gay had to pretend they were, and some like the Mayor of Miami had to be removed because they had been nominated as gay but were not.

When you have a Big Tent approach you cut yourself off from the folks outside the Big Tent and devolve into a lot of internecine, "tribal" kind of fighting over position.

But just to reassure you, our problem is not that attract black voters or gay voters of Pagan voters, who are all to the good, but that our Big Tent is not big enough for the kind of people who make up a majority in America and also make up a majority in Bradenton and Manatee County. Without rigorous gerrymandering of districts, we would not elect any Democrats to any city or country offices. These are some of the real problems we face:

  • We are not big enough as a party to include the people who might want to vote with us if they didn't feel they'd have to give up their religious and personal ideals and beliefs and support pople who oppose them.
  • We are not big enough as a party to care about Hurricane Wilma victims and gas lines in South Florida - except as it boosts our political interests - when Scooter Libby is being indicted in Washington.
  • We are not big enough to care about beach erosion on Anna Maria or riverside high-rises while social security is [not] being gutted in Washington.
  • We are not big enough as a party to acknowledge that trial lawyers and teachers are a large part of the problem in our justice system and our schools.
  • We are not big enough as a party to to fight tooth and nail against the outsourcing of our jobs.
  • We are not big enough as a party to engage the illegal immigration issue and get it resolved.
The Big Tent is not big enough to house the American people.

All this will change, I believe, because politicans are the most flexible people you ever met; they sway with the wind in the direction the people go.

But it will change away from the Democratic Party because it cannot respond to those directions, having been fractionalized and diminished by a host of niche-based political divisions that are irrelevant to the American people as a whole.

That is the crucible of busted ideals and broken promises in which the American electoral system is being forged day by day. "Us against Them" is not a viable strategy when "We are Us" becomes the consensus, as it has for the Republicas.

Once again, the Republicans are handing us the election on a silver platter. All the polls tell us so. But who speaks for the Americans who are becoming disaffected?

Not the Democrats, not yet.

AR Correspondent Joe Shea has not been invited to speak to the Manatee County DEC, but this is what he would say if he were.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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