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Can The Left Get It Right?
How The Democrats Can Lose Again in 2008

After the 2004 elections, I vowed (with a little help from my friend Terry, here at echopraxia) to move forward in a positive way. I knew the reason the Neo-Cons (there it is, right there in their nickname: Cons) were enjoying so much success was because they had a clear agenda, a simple message, and they stuck to it. They also didn't define themselves by their opponents' message, which is the strategy that made Pepsi the "other" cola, which it remains to this day.

Within a week of the elections, my progressive-minded friends (as soon as they were done crying and having nervous breakdowns) began the divisive intellectualizing that keeps important issues like jobs and the environment stalled, while people freak out about abortion and gay marriage. Don't get me wrong, I care as much as any feminist I know about a woman's right to make decisions about her body, and many of my best friends are gay; I'd love for them to be able to have their relationships acknowledged in exactly the same manner as my straight friends if they wanted to (which many don't). Regardless of all the various thoughts and feelings one may have on topics like this, if one actually cares about making changes, one will have to pick one's battles.

These are ALL important issues, but we're not going to see change through protest in this country any time soon, unless of course the government bans the private ownership of televisions or something. There isn't a single liberal/progressive issue that will bring people out in the numbers to make a difference. The anti-war movement has probably made the biggest splash recently, and in spite of 100,000 or more people turning out, the media barely batted a lash, and the Bush administration seemed to take it as reassurance that they were on the right track. The Neo-Cons have ingeniously used the pet issues amongst many liberals - gay rights and abortion - as the most powerful conservative tool for winning elections.

So what's a poor bleeding heart liberal to do? I for one, am doing my best to avoid "complaint-based" activism. I firmly believe that our government and the very spirit of our country - poisoned by lobby dollars and special interests - can only be changed from within, by playing the game to some degree, and by having vision, not spouting intellectual critiques.

In my opinion, the last democratic leader in this country with a vision (with the exception of Jimmy Carter, who apparently didn't have the necessary bloodthirst to operate in D.C.) was assassinated over forty years ago. We need a dream, not a band-aid. We need leadership - not the centrist, arrogant groaning of a John Kerry. I'm not sure whether I'll vote for a Democrat in 2008; I winced "punching the chad" reluctantly for Kerry, and won't vote simply in protest again. I WILL, however, do every thing I am able to do to support change in the election process, and gather with any other disenfranchised citizens that share the view that we'll do whatever is necessary to steer this country in a more inspired, hopeful, and human direction.

Ian Gray
February 2005

Next: If You See A Problem, Fix It

Related Links

CitizenWorks.Org has some great tips for getting organized if you want to take action on something you care about.

The Apollo Alliance is a well-organized, well-funded organization whose focus is on "Good Jobs and Clean Energy".

More Links In The Next Piece: "If You See A Problem, Fix It"

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