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Friday, November 05, 2004

[+/-]
 What the Democrats must do

Two veteran New York Times columnists have some good advice applicable not just to Democrats but to Republicans that still value democratic principles. First, Bob Hebert says, "Get back to work:"
You had a couple of days to indulge your depression - now, get over it. The election's been lost but there's still a country to save, and with the current leadership that won't be easy. Crucial matters that have been taken for granted too long - like the Supreme Court and Social Security - are at risk. Caving in to depression and a sense of helplessness should not be an option when the country is speeding toward an abyss.

Roll up your sleeves and do what you can. Talk to your neighbors. Call or write your elected officials. Volunteer to help in political campaigns. Circulate petitions. Attend meetings. Protest. Run for office. Support good candidates who are running for office. Register people to vote. Reach out to the young and the apathetic. Raise money. Stay informed. And vote, vote, vote - every chance you get.

Democracy is a breeze during good times. It's when the storms are raging that citizenship is put to the test. And there's a hell of a wind blowing right now.

In a similar fashion, Paul Krugman says, "No surrender:"

[W]hile it's O.K. to think things over, those who abhor the direction Mr. Bush is taking the country must maintain their intensity; they must not succumb to defeatism....

Democrats are not going to get the support of people whose votes are motivated, above all, by their opposition to abortion and gay rights (and, in the background, opposition to minority rights). All they will do if they try to cater to intolerance is alienate their own base.

Does this mean that the Democrats are condemned to permanent minority status? No. The religious right - not to be confused with religious Americans in general - isn't a majority, or even a dominant minority. It's just one bloc of voters, whom the Republican Party has learned to mobilize with wedge issues like this year's polarizing debate over gay marriage.

Rather than catering to voters who will never support them, the Democrats - who are doing pretty well at getting the votes of moderates and independents - need to become equally effective at mobilizing their own base....

What's at stake isn't just the fate of their party, but the fate of America as we know it.

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