The Party of Community

When I started playing around with blogs it was never about the Democratic party for me. It was a way to communicate with others about the things that are important to me, about the things we can do for our country, about writing and participating and standing up for what you believe in, examples of bravery and eloquence all too lacking today.

And so in a strange way, though of course I’m still disappointed, and angry, and going through all the stages of grief seven times in an hour and starting over out of order, I’m enjoying the discussion going on now about what we want to DO.

Tena was talking over on Eschaton about harnessing the old-time power of the anti-establishment religious, which I think has a lot of merit. And Kos has a thread up about values, and people are going back and forth about what the party should stand for and how it should talk about it. And I wonder what people here think, since there’s less of you and you tend to not flame each other for the hell of it so the discussion should be more productive, what the Democratic party stands for.

For so long, the rap on Dems is that they’re made up of 500 little constituencies all warring with each other, with no unifying force or message like Republicans. Kos is positing that that hurts us, and I agree. But rather than coming up with some sort of consultant-tested polling-safe language and then imposing it upon our divided rabble, I’d like to embrace all the bits and pieces that make up Democratic democracy, and see if there isn’t something we all have in common.

Women

Gays

Racial/ethnic minorities

Environmentalists

Social justice advocates

Anti-war activists

Pro-choicers

Union workers/organized labor

Public schools/teachers in general

I’m sure you all can add to that list, it’s not meant to be comprehensive of all Democrats (if it was, I’d include “everyone with a sense of decency and conscience”). These are people who everybody tries to please, and nobody ends up pleasing all of them. But they all have something in common, they must. To go forward and do in the midterms what the Republicans did in 1994, we need to find that common theme, and craft it into a message that will appeal to a broad swath of America, in the same way that Republicans have made “family values” the commonality among their many factions. What brings our people together? What do they all agree on? Find that, and we’ve found our message.

Someone over in the Kos thread described Republicans as the party of owners and Democrats as the party of workers; that’s close, but I tend to look at everybody on my list and say it’s the party of individual freedom working for the common good. We all want the freedom to live our lives the way we want to live them, to love who we want to love, and we recognize that, as Obama said so eloquently, everyone loses if we don’t all win.

I think the soul-searching I’ve seen so far today has been positive, once the catharsis ends it will only get more so. This was a starting point. We have our gathering places now, we have our path forward. We are the party of unselfishness. We are the party of community service. We are the party of … community, maybe.

Keep the brainstorm going. What are OUR values? What can we claim that is uniquely ours, that deserves to be spread across the land and shared with others?

A.