Sunday, November 07, 2004

Post-Election Musings

Ok, so a few days ago we all voted, and the results came in, and we're stuck with Bush for another 4 years. Apparently America preferred the evil we knew to the evil we didn't. And by that, yes, I mean that Kerry was in no way a desirable choice on his own. He looked ok when compared to Bush, but then again, I look tall standing next to a midget. Anyways, it was an issue of perspective - if you looked out of your right eye Bush looked slightly better, and if you looked out of your left eye, Kerry looked slightly better. And most people seem to look out of only one eye, so we had a severe divide, and most people are now either ecstatic or upset. I, personally, am neither. But I don't really care to talk about what happened (for a terrific review of the "collapse of the democrats" check out my friend Zhubin's blog: ). No, instead I want to talk about new direction.

As many commentators have suggested, the Democratic party seems to be wandering around, without a clear direction, devoid of any moral position, simply trying to win on the basis that they aren't Republicans. I don't know that these commentators are completely accurate, because I am convinced that there are plenty of democrats out there who have a focus, who understand and identify with religious and rural voters. These are people who care about the working class, who want to see farmers get subsidies and homeless get homes. They want factory workers to get better insurance and inmates to get educations. They want schools to have computers and minorities to have civil liberties. These, my friends, are the members of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party.

Now I realize that I've got a Minnesota-centric view of the world, and that your typical liberal doesn't really understand that America isn't just the coasts. But all the same, I think the DFL is where it's at, and I'd like to suggest it as the saving grace of the Democratic party.

After all, it's been strong enough to keep Minnesota voting Democrat longer than any other state in the nation. Minnesota has always had one of the better education systems in the nation. Some of the best labor and farm policies. And some of the best social programs, such as healthcare and welfare. All because of the DFL. Because these three things are the focus of the DFL and should be the focus of every Democrat. Education, Labor, and Social Programs. This is the heart of the party. Any other focus - abortion rights, anti-war, broader economic policy, etc. - needs to take a back seat.

I realize that with certain issues, for example abortion, this might be hard. It's a divisive issue which people tend to focus on because the positions are so crystallized. So what to do? Soften. Democrats need to be willing to avoid a hard-line on abortion. Accept pro-life members. I for one often feel rejected by other Democrats because I am pro-life. I often feel ostracized for being opposed to gay marriage (civil unions another story? I don't know yet, I haven't decided, and probably won't for a while. Don't rush me.). This is a huge problem with the party. Anyone who does the least bit of moralizing is either tossed out or pressured to run for cover. So I say soften. Sure, we all know the Republicans are pro-life. Why does that mean Democrats must be pro-choice?

Which brings me to another point about the contrast in parties - it seems lately the Republicans have stolen a lot of the Democrats' fire. Democrats were always the education/healthcare people. In the last 4 years, however, the Republicans pushed through major education and healthcare bills. And though neither is even close to satisfactory, the Republicans have something to point to, and the Democrats lose their strongest point of contrast. So the party needs to get back to those roots, regain a point of strength, and build from there. The DFL is the perfect place to start. Most Americans have children, work hard at their jobs, pay too much to see their doctor, and are sympathetic to the plight of the poor. Education, Labor, and Social Programs are the things that will have an effect in their daily lives.

So I say crystallize. Focus on Education, Labor, and Social Programs. Make these the big three. Soften on everything else.

The gun-totin' pro-lifer who wants his kids to get a good education will now have a home.
The poor farmer with a conscience will now know feel free to vote in his best interest because his candidate just might think gay marriage is a sin too.

There are many more out there like myself - just waiting for the Democratic party to invite us back in. Until they do, we'll be casting longing glances at their candidates and votes for Republicans.


Anonymous said...

Matt, it's Joel. I'm too lazy to actually register for a Blogger account. I figure that because you're the only person I know using Blogger, I'll just post Anonymously and sign my name. Anyway...

As I'm sure you would suspect, I've been doing quite a bit of post-apocalyptic reading these last few days. I'm as upset and frustrated and distraught as the "rest of the Democrats." But you would have guessed that. You know my political positions pretty well and understand how many issues Bushie and I agree on. Roughly two. Maybe. Anyway, I think your post here is pushing double-digits for the number of "where to go now? what to do now?" musings that I've read. Up until now, the only one I could truly understand and identify with was the one that ended like so: "I'm going to suggest something that no one else has, because I think everyone else is too scared to say it. 'I don't know what to do.'" Now, however, you've pushed through my fog of confusion and frustration. Your idea is the best one I've heard yet. And as I sit here and ponder it more and think about the logistics of it a bit more deeply, the one thing that comes to mind is this: "I miss Paul Wellstone." :-( He would have been the one person with the strength, drive, charisma, and creativity to make it work. And that's all I really have to say...


Matthew B. Novak said...

Paul Wellstone would have been a terrific leader for what I'm proposing. People always said he was too extreme, but that was back when liberals were trying to pick-off moderates one at a time. That strategy has failed, and now someone like Wellstone would be a perfect leader. Wellstone had integrity. You always knew where Wellstone stood. He was passionate and compassionate. He prioritized education, labor, and social programs. Yeah. He would have been perfect.

Anonymous said...

Wellstone was a true Statesman

Anonymous said...

Maybe, just maybe it is not too soon to start considering a career in politics?

Matthew B. Novak said...

Ok, anonymouses, please identify yourself. Also, the politics suggestion: eerily similiar to the sentiments I was discussing with Laura earlier this evening...

Anonymous said...

hey matt, its eric (i too am lazy)

I can see your point, and admit there is some appeal to it. However, is compromising core democratics values really the way to go?

In the '60s the democrats were gavinized by the civil rights movement - many if not most dems believe that abortion and gay marriage represent an important extension of this movement and its values.

I suspect your suggested path might cause serious factionalization in the democratic base, not to mention caving on from some pretty important social issues that a very large part of the population still believes in.

btw - kerry only supported civil unions, not gay marriage.

Matthew B. Novak said...

Eric - while I understand your point, I disagree fundamentally. First of all I think that "rights" like abortion and gay marriage are significantly different from the civil rights of the '60s. Most notably, giving minorities equal access to education and the political process doesn't require killing an unborn baby(yes we could debate whether it is a life, but even the fact that there is a debate is significant - the civil liberties of the 60's didn't risk the civil liberties of others). I would argue that gay marriage also has significant effects on society, and that it will damage the conception of marriage that others have, and so poses a direct threat to a valid social institution. The gay marriage movement doesn't challenge the validity of heterosexual marriage, (it only challenges that heterosexual marriage is the only valid form of marriage), yet it poses a threat to the conception of heterosexual marriage. The challenges to racism, however, were actually meant to supplant the system of segregation - those were challenging an invalid institution. The current pursuits challenge valid institutions, and therefore there is a significant difference.
(Did people follow this? It makes sense, I'm just not sure if I articulated it clearly).

More importantly than the difference in the movements is the fact that I'm not calling for people to give them up - I'm simply calling for acceptance of people who disagree. As it is now I feel rejected by the democratic party, and so do many others. Basically I've been told "you're pro-life and against gay marriage so we don't want you." And so I'm simply suggesting a reprioritization, that says Education, Labor, and Social Programs are the important stuff, and we'll take anyone who recognizes that - and we won't pass judgement on their other beliefs, because being pro-life is ok. I'm not saying Democrats should be pro-life, I'm saying they shouldn't be pro-choice. They should be open.
And yeah, this would create faction. But frankly, I think it would get out a lot of the dead wood that's holding the party back.

Madley said...

Is Wellstone the fellow who died in a plane crash? (I know I can google it right now, but hey, everyone ELSE is being lazy...)

All my friends from Minnesota are as level-headed as you are... I appreciate it, after having lived on both coasts. I've only mentioned it to ONE friend that Ia long-time Democrat voted for Bush, simply because I can see both sides and as you said, chose the guy so he could finish his work.

I did get to observe how wacked out the Democratic Party was this time around and kinda freaked me out. I admit, I'm at an age where traditionally I would be "turning Republican" because I'm supposed to have a husband, kids, be more conservative as get older, etc. But it's not about that (since I am none of those) -- I don't feel so radically opinionated on what the Democratic Party supposedly "stands" for, which is crazy when I live in Hollyweird.

I like your solution: Soften. I'm sure we can all agree on Education, Labor and Social Issues to some extent. I just don't want to be so divided on abortion, same-sex marriage ("gay marriage" is a misnomer as gays can marry if they wish... to people of the opposite sex which is beside the point, but I digress) stem cells, etc. Please, isn't that why we have STATE governments?

Anyhoo, like your blog and your writing, but mostly your opinions. Looking forward :) (And I'll be looking at the DFL party info too.)

Anonymous said...

SO what election are you running in? this is exactly what we need to push for if we want to straighten out the way America is going. I mean the middle class and lower class and farmers and ect. are people two (even though they get an ect.) and we really should start focusing on more of the social issues in our community. Really, this is what i've been preaching to my friends about everytime we discuss politics. i just never posted it on a web site. keep it up, you make people stop acting on their stupid impulses and start looking at the real issues.