Sunday, November 14, 2004

Election 2004 Post-Mortem

A Retro-Democrat Manifesto

November 5, 2004

The recent electoral defeat is not the most disturbing thing. The distribution of votes for and against the Democratic nominee for President is the disturbing thing. Looking at a map of the 48 contiguous United States that has each county colored by its electoral choice, a disturbing trend becomes immediately obvious.

The almost unbroken sea of red for Republican is only sprinkled here and there by blue for Democrat.

This is not the picture of a national party. This is barely a picture of a regional party. Worse yet, the regions where the Democratic Party still shows strength are losing population. We are already being marginalized. A few more election cycles like this one, and we will become essentially irrelevant. This slide can be stopped, even reversed, but action must be taken now.

We must recover our old place as the champion of the working man and the middle class. This means that we must have values that are within shouting distance of those espoused by the working man and the middle class. We cannot win middle America if we are exclusively the party of the urban intellectual and the academic ideologue. And this is what the electoral map indicates.

We have values that middle America can not only respect, but embrace. These values were espoused by the last truly great Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Those values are encapsulated in his State of the Union address in 1941:

1) Freedom of speech and expression,

2) Freedom of religion,

3) Freedom from want,

4) Freedom from fear.

These four points, now famous as the Four Freedoms, are the cornerposts of what I call the Retro-Democrat Manifesto. It is a repudiation of the politics of cowardice. It is an embracing of the call to heroism sounded by FDR on the eve of World War II, and by JFK at the height of the Cold War. We reject the politics of selfish ease. We embrace the call to pay any price, bear any burden, and endure any hardship in the cause of liberty.

Freedom of Speech and Expression

There is a reason why the First Amendment is the First Amendment. Freedom of information is the fundamental civil right. Free dissemination of information is absolutely vital to a healthy democratic society. Free interchange of all ideas in the national marketplace of ideas ensures that only the best ideas gain currency. This is the ideal that we support. We do not believe that trying to hide or banish hateful or harmful thoughts is beneficial. Foul things grow best in dark, damp conditions; clean and lovely things flourish in the wholesome light of the midday sun. Let every citizen say what he or she will. It is only in this way that we can lay open the pits of evil, exposing them to the searing light of truth.

To this end, we will support the right of everyone to express their opinions, even when we disagree with them. We will let everyone have their say. We will confront hateful or evil speech with truth, not with efforts to stifle or silence. The truth is always its own best defense.

Freedom of Religion

We are a nation founded by refugees from the Wars of Religion that wracked the European continent in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries. We fully believe in bringing this attitude full-force into the Twenty-First Century. Every faith and creed has its place in our national marketplace of ideas. Every man and woman has an inalienable right to worship in any way they see fit, or not at all if that is what their conscience dictates. We will not use the apparatus of the State to advance any faith or creed over another, nor will we use it to suppress the same. It is not the purpose of the State to help or to hinder. All faiths are to be treated with respect and honor, never with contempt or disdain.

To this end, we will attempt to be as fair and even-handed as possible. But we also recognize that freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion. You do not and have never had a right never to be offended. You must respect your neighbor's right to practice his faith, even as you practice yours.

Freedom from Want

Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Far and away the greatest prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." One of the greatest joys a man can know is the satisfaction of earning his bread by the sweat of his brow. We believe that everyone who wants to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay should be able to do so. While we are interested in prosperity all over the world, we are called first to look after our own. Therefore, we should see to it that all of our own are gainfully employed before we start sending work overseas. That said, we should also be mindful of those who are unable to work, or have otherwise fallen on hard times. Even as each of us has a responsibility to all of us, all of us collectively have a responsibility to each of us. We are rich enough that none of us should be desperately poor. No one should go to bed hungry, or go without basic medical care.

To this end, we must ensure a robust, vibrant economy where everyone can work that wants to. We should not take more than we must for the maintenance of our government. The government must be good and faithful stewards of the public's money. We must pay for today's projects with today's money. And we should see to the needs of the least of us, who are unable either by ability or circumstance to see to their own.

Freedom from Fear

Both at home and abroad, we seek a world where people can live out their lives and raise their families without the scourge of fear. At home, crime should be controlled and criminals removed from the general population. The root causes of criminal behavior are open to discussion, but leaving criminals free to roam the streets is irresponsible and unacceptable. Punishment of crimes should be swift and certain. Abroad, America needs to be strong. We must have a strong defense. We are a maritime trading nation, whose lifeblood depends on access to foreign markets. To this end, a strong Navy is vital. To this end, a strong Air Force is vital. The tyrants of the world must have good cause to fear the might of the American Eagle. This fear will restrain their hand, and while it will not keep them from coveting that which is their neighbor's, it will probably keep them from acting on their appetites. And we must be ready at need to put aside ease and comfort to take up the cause of those who are too weak to defend themselves. War is an evil, but not the greatest evil; worse still is a nation that possesses the awareness and might to aid the defenseless and yet does nothing. But we also must take care that we do not use our power oppressively. We, who were born of a struggle against a tyrannical superpower, must not become the thing we once fought against. At the height of our power, we must have the wisdom to use that power well and justly.

Retro-Democrats, Unite!

We do not wish to destroy the Democratic Party. We wish to reclaim the heroic roots of the progressive movement that has become so horribly derailed of late. We have become so enamored of ideological purity that we have lost sight of the things we really care about. We have forgotten that all true things are truly simple. The natural laws discovered by Newton and Einstein all have simple, elegant statements. The same is true for the basic tenets of our movement.

We believe in the Four Freedoms.

We pledge eternal enmity to any enslavement of the mind of Man. We pledge eternal enmity to any restraint on individual conscience. We pledge eternal enmity to unrestrained greed and avarice. We pledge eternal enmity to the tyrants and slave-masters who hold our fellow humans in bondage. And we pledge that we will pay any price, bear any burden, endure any hardship, support any friend, and fight any foe to advance the cause of human liberty.

1 comment:

Pat McGaha said...

Ah, yes the manifesto! Still attempting to get drummed out of the Democratic Party I see, excellant remember we have lots of room