Revolutionizing the Democratic Party from the inside out
In an America dominated by the Bush administration, a strengthened Republican presence both in the Senate and House of Representatives and a right-leaning Supreme Court, the Democratic Party has struggled to keep its message heard. As a party fighting for public support and an image of themselves as something besides simply the "Anti-Republican Party," the Democrats need to return to their original base of definitive liberal ideals and grassroots politics to once again make an impact on the American political spectrum. By taking definite stances on current issues, reflecting these opinions in a new platform and creating public support networks to spread their message, the Democratic Party can once again return to its standard of being a voice for the voiceless.
The Democratic Party is one defined by "prosperity, progress and peace," according to The Democratic National Platform - however, in recent years, the Party has been lacking all three of these qualities. Not only have the Democrats failed to produce any significant change for liberal Americans, they seem to be missing any political stance whatsoever, taking a backseat to the Republican Party in definitive political ideals. While the Republicans are certain of their stances - such as their support for the war in Iraq and opposition towards gay marriage - the Democrats are more tenuous and less vocal than their right-leaning competition. Concerning the war on Iraq, presidential candidate senator John Kerry flip-flopped constantly, contradicting himself on whether or not he supported the military endeavor. And, more recently, Democrats have fallen short in delivering strong opposition to the social security reforms planned by President Bush, remaining relatively quiet on an issue that will affect all Americans. Instead of staying in the political background, it is the responsibility of the Democratic Party to represent liberal America, even if this means completely rewriting the Democratic National Platform.
The rewriting of the platform is a complicated task, but one that must be attended to immediately by new Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean. Although Dean lost to Kerry in the bid for the Democratic presidential candidate, it was not for a lack of candor. Instead, it was Dean's bluntness that caused controversy for the Democrats then; nevertheless, it is just what the Party needs now. Democrats can no longer rally behind ambiguous leaders such as senator John Kerry or senator Tom Daschle. Dean's actions on American policy issues - such as signing the first American law to establish same-sex unions in Vermont and actively opposing the war in Iraq - should be examples for Democratic unity and ideological certainty. The platform for the party should reflect this same certainty by steadfastly supporting liberal agendas such as same-sex marriages and a woman's right to choose. The Democrats must provide a balance to Dean's more Republican-friendly opinions, such as support of the death penalty and prolonging the stay of American troops in Iraq; through cooperation between the two, the platform can effectively support the majority of liberal opinion. The platform must also attempt to set a firm stance on other American policy issues such as welfare reform and the war on drugs, which are also neglected in the 39-page Democratic document. By rewriting an agenda that will eliminate mixed messages and indecision, the Democrats can both present a unified image and appeal to potential voters.
When the Democrats have finally eliminated policy indecision and weak leadership from their party, they must spread their new message to the American public. To do this, the Democrats must rely on grassroots politics and local political networks. During the 2004 Presidential Election, the Republican Party was highly successful in organizing grassroots movements in key states like Ohio and Nevada. By using state-centered groups like Citizen United and Club for Growth, the Republicans were able to advertise their ideology thoroughly and effectively. The Democrats must take a page from the Republican book and work on supporting liberal grassroots organizations like Progressive Maryland or Bring Ohio Back - both state-centered groups that support the Democratic agenda. Organizations such as these can help Democrats utilize grassroots methods like public relations and media campaigns to once again garner support for their party. Only with enough public backing can the Democrats once again be a worthy opponent to the Republican party.
By redefining themselves from the inside out, the Democratic Party can finally present a unified, strong face to the American public. With definitive liberal stances on national and international policy issues, cooperation between the party and Chair Howard Dean and utilization of grassroots support, the Democrats will be able to fulfill their role as the American opposition party. But, if they aren't driven to create a revolutionized and cohesive Democratic platform, they run the risk of remaining the opposition party forever.
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