Jul 272010
Howard Dean speaking at DNC event
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Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont and DNC chairman, wrote an op-ed piece on Monday where he decried conservative publicity tactics and urged Democrats to stand up for their convictions. Dean cited several recent ploys where “the Fox News Network [had] failed to report the full story or relevant facts.” With regard to instances like the new Black Panthers, Van Jones and the entire Shirley Sherrod fiasco, Dean suggests that, Fox indulged “in race baiting in order to exploit people’s fears and crank up the fringe of their audience.” But Dean’s message isn’t about the evil of these practices; it’s about the appropriate response by Democrats.

According to Dean, Democrats “are not tough enough.” Dean’s prescription for resurgence by the Democrats is to “stand up for what we believe in and stop trying to make deals with people who cannot be trusted to make deals for the good of our country.” Republicans have clearly defined themselves and taken a stand as the party of big business. If the Democrats are to avoid a one-sided loss in November, they’ll be well served to follow Dean’s advice and leave compromise at the altar of progress.

Those who think that supporting incremental change somehow moves the issues forward are sadly mistaken. All that the spirit of compromise does is move the center further to the right. Those Democrats who support this approach are responsible for the pathetic reality we now have where what the Republicans themselves would have passed 30 years ago is now celebrated as a Democratic victory.

Voters need to wake up! So long as they support this dynamic, the line will keep moving to the right. And so long as it moves right, the Republicans will retain power. What’s needed is for the Democrats to truly differentiate themselves — that’s the only way the line will ever be moved left again. Democrats need to fight on principle, EVEN WHEN THEY WILL LIKELY LOSE! This is how a platform is defined, how Democrats can communicate who they are and what they stand for.

The American middle class wasn’t created through compromise; it is being destroyed through it. Obama is compiling a great legislation record, but a brief look at the history will show that Jimmy Carter was responsible for a significant body of legislation too, yet he created the climate where Reaganomics was able to take root. By contrast, FDR took a bold stand and created the middle class.

The climate of our time begs for a little more FDR and a little less Jimmy Carter. FDR has no problem taking a stand as evidenced by the words he shared on election eve 1936:

“We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.”

It’s time the Democrats help take government back from “organized money.” And until and unless they take a real stand, they’ll just remain a bunch of Republican supporters who are helping to move all legislation to the right.

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