Wednesday, September 15, 2010

If it ain't broke, don't nix it

In Ad Wars, Democrats Shy From Ties to Own Party

The above NY Times article really grinds my gears. Why do candidates have to separate themselves from successes? It is true that we did not accomplish as much as we could have since President Obama took office. It is true that our country isn’t in the best of shape. It is not true, however, that passing health care reform and bailing out our financial system were failures.

Health care reform is extremely beneficial in the long term and on an individual level, two things that are, quite unfortunately, undervalued in our politics. The bail-out was a necessity; the planning was incomplete and the execution very rough, but we can’t forget that it saved us from a dire alternative.

I can understand distancing yourself from the party on certain issues; I’m from Minnesota where Rep. Collin Peterson defines what it means to be a blue dog. Sometimes it can help you get elected and it’s definitely possible to disagree with the party stance; the diversity of opinions in the Democratic Party is a great asset. The place where this trend loses me is when it becomes systematic across the country in this year’s campaigns. It could be that this article dramatizes the issue, but I’m concerned regardless.

My major qualm is the lack of faith in the party. The Democratic brand/ideal/message is not dead. There are plenty of people out there who still support our positions or who would if only we showed them some confidence. Backpedaling from the President and Congress might win a few cheap votes from disgruntled people, but at what cost? If we say the Democratic Party is failing we undermine our future efforts to make this country great. Destruction is always simpler than construction; it is difficult to build up people’s faith in our party and our ideals, but it is very easy to break down their faith in our ability to achieve our goals. I’m probably crazy, but I think it is possible to get elected and to stick to your guns. I think you can run as a Democrat, tell the people you are confident in the government and in your ability to improve our national situation, and win. My second concern is more existential: Why even run as a Democrat if you are going to back down from nearly the entire platform? If you aren’t advancing a single plank that agrees with the party and you’re dissociating yourself from Democrats across the board, run as an independent or even a Republican. After all the GOP is proving that yelling about the current administration and big government without solid plans on what to do about them is enough to win an election.

I’m definitely not advocating strict party loyalty, (whether of the British Parliamentary or GOP nature) I am saying let’s not give up on being the party of hope and change. Two years (not even) is not enough time to accomplish everything our party set out to do. I’m not even sure I can decide on a major in the next two years (fortunately I’m a freshman). I say every candidate should confidently run on the platform they believe best serves our country and for the party they agree most with. Whoever wins, wins. I believe that the ideals of the Democratic Party are good enough in themselves that if we campaign hard and stay with them we’ll come out ahead in the end.

No comments: