Politics Mondays: Armstrong Williams and Donna Brazile On The Direction Of The Democratic Party
The Democrats are out of step with America, and if they want to be a long term stable governing body that is going to have to change. Just ask the party's leading populist, President Clinton. He was waddling all over town in the months leading up to the election, imploring party leaders to abandon their support of a gay marriage amendment.
Clinton knew that the vast majority of Americans did not support the homosexual agenda. He knew that large pluralities of the populace would vote Republican solely on that issue. And like all great populists, Clinton knew that in a democracy, political leaders have to ingrain themselves in the popular culture. Itâ€™s how they draw their legitimacy as a voice for the people. He could also see that the Democrats were on the verge of losing that legitimacy with their stubborn support of a gay marriage amendment.
Plainly, gay marriage is not an issue that Americans support. Despite the rhetoric that you hear from the homosexual cosa nostra, the lack of support for the gay marriage amendment has nothing to do with prejudice. It's not about trying to dictate to adults what they should do in the privacy of their own home. Let's be clear about that. Opposition to the gay marriage amendment isn't about disallowing homosexuals the same basic rights we extend to every other group in this country. It is about recognizing that marriage between man and woman is the bedrock of our society. It is about the citizens of this country saying, en masse, that they are unwilling to deconstruct certain basic and essential norms in our culture and society.
Rightly so. Heterosexual marriage is deeply ingrained in our Western value system. To abruptly break form those values, would have a disastrous effect upon our society. For starters, it would speed along the breakdown of family and society. Pushing the homosexual agenda into the mainstream would also would inevitably legitimize homosexual adoption. This is truly frightening. A child requires emotional consistency, gender stability and self-esteem. To abruptly break with social conventions by placing children in homosexual households, would create for these children the sort of gender confusion and social scrutiny that ignites a lifetime of emotional confusion. I am unwilling to martyr a generation of children just to make a political statement about homosexual rights. Nor am I willing to trash the most fundamental values of our culture of Western culture. Most Americans feel the same.
Somehow, though, the Democrats don't get this. They hang on to the gay marriage amendment with mind numbing intransigence. They say that homosexual unions cannot be disallowed simply because the state deems it immoral. Well guess what, the state can enforce a moral consensus. Otherwise this would be a land where pornography, drugs and prostitution would be unregulated, where women would be allowed to have abortions at any time during their pregnancy. If you accept that the state cannot enforce shared moral values, then you're saying that the state has no voice in any of these issues. Obviously, that's just not the case.
At bottom, most Americans simply do not agree with the homosexual agenda. So why do the Democrats continue to cram the gay marriage issue down our throats? There is no pragmatic answer to that question. After all, gay people tend to reflexively vote Democrat. So the liberals have that vote locked up regardless of whether they support gay marriages. The rest of the country, however, is staunchly opposed to homosexual unions. Many voters admitted to supporting President Bush in the last election, based on that single issue. The major implication: the only thing that the Democrats accomplish by digging their heels in support of homosexual unions is the widespread alienation of mainstream voters.
Ironically, homosexual unions aren't even a mainstream issue for the Democratic Party. Their chief concerns are welfare and a strong national government. Yet, if you ask voters what the Democrats are all about, they often say that the Democrats are about gay rights, separation of church and state, and making our culture more relativistic. The Democrats inflexibility on homosexual unions has alienated large pluralities of the voting populace.
And this is what President Clinton was trying to tell the Democrats in the months leading up to the election: if you have a political party that is viewed as fundamentally hostile to American culture and values, you're not interested in listening to them. The Democrats will never be a long term stabile governing body until they get that through their heads.
Armstrong Williams can be contacted through his website The Right Side
Remarks by Donna Brazile to Democratic Leadership Council 2004-11-09
I know some of you are checking your lenses to make sure you’re seeing right. Yes, I am Donna Brazile and I am delighted to be here this afternoon.
My presence should demonstrate that during the 2004 general election the Democratic Party was more unified, more energized than ever before. We liberals, progressives, moderates, new democrats and conservatives worked hard to put Senators John Kerry and John Edwards in the White House.
Although we fell short of our goal, Democrats must seize this opportunity to rebuild our party brick by brick and lay a strong foundation that allows voters to know who we are and what we stand for.
For starters, we did get some things right this time. After the 2000 presidential election, we knew that we would be up against an opponent with unlimited funds, unlimited resources. We knew that our Party needed to make major structural changes in order to compete. We did.
The Democratic Party’s donor base has tripled and its activist base has quadrupled. There was more passion at the grassroots level and more activists lined up to meet-up, stand up and turn out our vote targets. Together, with our strategic and political allies, Democrats mobilized more voters than any previous nominee.
There’s no doubt that had we taken our campaign into the heartland, more Americans would have given us their trust.
The President won this election – not because most Americans believed in the direction he would take us, but because they did not understand where we would lead them in the future.
In order to win future elections at the presidential, congressional and state levels, we must do more than tune in or turn up our volume, we must find the language and the words that clearly spell out who we are, where we stand and why we fight for our values.
As Democrats, we cannot mis-read this election and think we have to become Republican lite. Our message lies in what the Democratic Party has always stood for -- Liberty/Freedom, Opportunity, Security. We must have enough faith and confidence in what we stand for to clearly advocate for what we believe and not get caught up in polls and focus groups that can switch over-night.
For example, many Democrats opposed the war in Iraq because we did not believe it was an extension of the war on terror. But many of our leaders were scared to stake out a position because of poll numbers. We should have been clearer in our views on ways to win the war on terror that did not necessitate going through Baghdad.
Many Democrats thought the second, third and last round of tax cuts were bad for the economy, but were intimidated by Bush's commitment to this issue. We knew that some of the so-called tax cuts would only increase the deficit and not bring relief to hard working middle class Americans. Again, we did not fight for our principles.
While we can never forget what we stand for -- we need to learn how to frame the discussion better. We can't get trapped into 10-point plans, small little issues; we must keep basic message touchstones in place.
When asked about gay rights or abortion -- we shouldn't go into the talking points provided by the constituency groups that support these issues. We should go into our broader theme of what we stand for -- Democrats believe in liberty and freedom -- people should have the right to have their privacy protected whether it is from corporations that want your financial records or people who want to be in your bedroom.
Consistency -- our message needs to be boiled down to one sentence about what we stand for and one sentence of why we oppose them. We must remain focused and disciplined on sticking to those messages. We cannot change by the day or because of the latest polling.
Candidates -- we need candidates who can connect to voters. Presidential campaigns are essentially about leadership (a mix of character, personality, credibility, consistency, etc.). We need candidates who have the capacity to talk to everyday people about everyday issues.
Lastly, let me discuss a way to return to civility and bi-partisanship.
If the President is ready to find a way to reduce the historic deficit we’ve run up over the past four years, Democrats will work with him on that.
If the President is ready to put Americans back to work after the historic job losses of the past four years, Democrats will work with him on that.
If the President is ready to acknowledge that Iraq is a mess, and is open to discussing ways to succeed in bringing our men and women home, we’re ready to work with him on that.
But if the President just wants to swagger his way through four more years of the same, we’re not going to work with him on that. We’re going to represent the 55 million voters who rejected that path, and demanded that we take a new direction.
Our party did what it should have done in 2004 in terms of money and a ground game -- what we did not have was an effective message and a candidate capable of delivering a consistent message.
Donna Brazile is Founder and Managing Director, Brazile and Associates, LLC
Monday, November 15, 2004