Opinion: Getting back in the game

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Online Poster

By David Johnson

As someone who split his votes Tuesday between the Libertarian, Republican and Democratic parties, I believe strongly in the concept of “checks and balances,” as it applies to any facet of our government.

One party is not always right, and a healthy mix of viewpoints ensures that the gears of the government grind to a screeching halt for all but the most urgent matters (there’s that Libertarian peaking through). Therefore, it concerns me that for four straight years, this country will have one party controlling the entirety of our federal legislative and executive branches. Yet, the Democratic Party simply didn’t deserve to win, and the ultimate losers are the entire U.S. electorate. Thus, from my soapbox as a DI columnist, I thought I’d help the Democratic Party with some winning advice:

Do not hold the 53 percent of the country that vote against you in such contempt – When you wring your hands by saying you lost this election on “moral values,” you’re absolving yourself of responsibility by suggesting that 58 million people waited in line to vote just to stick it to homosexuals. In the 11 states with gay marriage referendums, Bush made no percentage gains from his performance in 2000. Yet, in liberal states such as New York and Massachusetts, Bush’s support improved considerably. It’s hard to chalk up Bush’s victory entirely to Bible-thumping rednecks. By Democratic logic, Senators John Kerry and John Edwards should have scored points by bringing up Vice President Dick Cheney’s gay daughter. Strangely, such techniques seemed to hurt more than help.

Distance yourself from the moonbats in Hollywood – If a hate-filled gasbag like Michael Moore sits in the VIP box at your national convention, you have a problem. If highly visible celebrities demean middle Americans (see above), you have a problem. Make it clear that these people, even if they energize your base, do not represent the Democratic Party (unless they do, in which case, you’re hopeless).

Stop being so divisive – Democrats and other self-proclaimed intellectuals smirk at Bush’s 2000 campaign mantra, in which he claimed he was a “uniter, not a divider.” But who’s done the dividing? We’ve heard for four years how Bush is Hitler; how Bush is worse than bin Laden and Saddam; how Bush drinks Iraqi babies’ blood harvested by Halliburton, etc. We’ve been bombarded with the supposedly inherent dishonesty of corporations. We’ve been told that the wealthiest 1 percent of U.S. citizens are lazy trolls who take advantage of working men and nursing-home residents; this by a man who married into billions. We’ve watched as good news for the United States was bad news for Democrats (“Oh no! This could help Bush’s poll numbers!”) and how bad news for the United States, such as the tragic death of soldiers, was instant anti-Bush political fodder (I’m looking your way, Michael Moore). Stop all this.

Interestingly enough, “moral values” played a role in this election, but not in the way Democratic strategists think. While I won’t make a disparaging remark such as, “Democrats have no moral values,” I think it’s fair to say that the Democratic Party has lacked any sort of consistent message other than the perpetuation, perhaps, of class and ethnic conflict. The Republican Party under Bush has not offered much, particularly with disappointing decisions going against supposed Republican values such as limited government. However, the Democratic Party has offered even less.

The Democratic Party managed to turn an election that was supposedly a referendum on the controversial Bush presidency into a judgment on the liberal party’s complete lack of direction. Bush didn’t win as much as the Democrats lost. But the Democrats aren’t the only losers. For four years, we’ve had no meaningful debate about important issues such as civil liberties and the deployment of the U.S. military, meaning the choices have been reduced to a problematic “yes” or a troubling “no.” For the good of the country, the Democratic Party needs to get back in the game.

David Johnson is a senior in business. His column will run next Thursday. He can be reached at [email protected]