|November 5, 2004|
A Manifest for Four More Years
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Democrats like me are at a crossroads. The election is over and I, for one, fear what the country is going to look like after four more years of Bush and the Neo-Cons. I have a 13-year-old daughter. In four years, she will be a 17-year-old driver. I understand the implications of what can happen in only four years.
We Democrats have a choice to make at this crossroad. We can either emulate Robert Johnson and sell our collective souls to win or find the strength from within our wreckage to build a party that we can love.
Over the next four years we can get back to the basics of what makes us strong as a people.
Sure, I know itís easy to want to fight fire with fire and adopt their tactics of fear and smear. My role model is Andy Griffith. When Barney Fife came to Andy and demanded that he fight fire with fire, Andy countered, "No Barney, you fight fire with water."
Let our water be actions to fight the fire of their words. Letís build,
1. Define, not redefine, Democratic Party values
Democrats must make clear who we are and what we stand for.
2. Protest with Actions
Democrats must not only visibly protest, but visibly make changes
for the better.
Let's use our combined manpower to make a difference.
3. Define ourselves Locally
Democrats need to look for the next leaders, not from great speechmakers, not from great party operatives, but from those people who make a difference in our daily lives.
Democrats should be leaders in the community, whether through churches, businesses or civic groups.
Who says we canít mass in urban areas and drive out drug dealers thought community action? Who says we canít bring the light of day on the lives of common people who are already acting in their communities to make life better. We need to recruit leaders to who hold our values, but are afraid to align with a political party. We need to make loyalty come from within, from a commitment of keeping promises and supporting our friends and fighting our enemies. We can show what it means to build coalitions. If we do good locally, we can affect change for the nation.
4. Someone's got to do it
Democrats have been defined as a paternal group that wants government to solve problems without getting our hands dirty. Thatís not right. Yes, we believe that everyone deserves dignity and government is one place where people should look for justice, but itís not the end-all be-all.
We need to organize to bring services to people who are no longer going to get them from the government. Weekend health clinics, birth control counseling, after school programs, childcare: these are the stepping stones to building a better community. Republicans can block off public funding, but they canít keep us from helping each other. Letís go out and coordinate volunteer groups to provide for those who the government is not going to help. Letís create successful pilot programs run by volunteers and show what works to legislators and communities of every stripe.
5. Remember, we aren't them
We arenít the elite. We are the people. Our differences make us stronger. We don't have to fall lock step in with the party line. We feel free enough and confident enough to debate ideas with facts and opinions. We feel brave enough to say the wrong thing, not worrying about it being taken out of context. We feel smart enough to know that everyone can get on board. Itís not just about winning; itís about how you play the game. Itís our values that make us special.
Democrats shouldnít be intimidated. We shouldnít be cowed. We need to put plans in action. We need to execute these plans. We need to organize now. We can make a difference every day we wake up.
We are the people.
Iím Reed Barker
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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