When the Dean speaks, the Democratic Party better listen, Part I. - Same-sex marriage & abortion. Part II is Sid's response to the Dean.
Democratic Party should work on its agenda before deciding on its candidates
By Bill Shipp
Two 800-pound gorillas sat in the room with the Georgia Democratic Executive Committee in Atlanta last weekend as it met to chart a new course in the wake of its party's devastating election losses. Most of the assembled Democrats tried to pretend the beasts were not there.
Named Gay Marriage and Abortion Rights, the gorillas remained silent wallflowers as old-timers Bert Lance and Andy Young told stories of the party's golden years. Bobby Kahn led cheers for future greatness.
Talk filled the air about targeting voters, recruiting candidates, raising money and even selecting a new national party chairman.
But no ranking Democrat addressed the gorillas and the concerns that their presence raises:
"What are we going to do about gay rights and abortions? These issues are killing our party."
No Democratic leader dared say:
"Republicans laugh at us and call us the party of the blacks because we count so heavily on the African-American vote. And we do. But, as usual, the Republicans are wrong. The Democratic Party is in danger of losing black votes by the thousands for one simple reason. We have become the party not of African Americans - but of gays and abortionists. That is how we are most identified. Those issues do not resonate in the black community any better than they work in white communities. We saw the beginning of serious slippage among black votes in last month's election. Part of the reason: Blacks object to gays and abortions."
Perhaps no one addressed the "two gorillas problem" because gay and women activists are core Democratic constituents.
Both gay and women's rights representatives attended the 40-member executive committee meeting. No modern, dedicated Democrat would suggest that the party abandon support of either group. Helping women and protecting the rights of all people are as much a part of the party's reason for existence as guarding the working classes and protecting the environment.
But "gay" and "abortion" have become luminous threads woven into the state and national Democratic banner. Mention gay rights, think Democrat. Say pro-abortion, think Democrat.
What is wrong with Democrats? Can't they see that a high-profile part of their agenda has become poison to many nonpartisan voters?
In his losing presidential bid, Democratic Sen. John Kerry spoke guardedly three times against legalizing gay marriages. Meanwhile, polls showed Americans in staggering numbers solidly opposed validating same-sex wedding vows.
Former President Bill Clinton, easily the most talented politician among Democrats, suggested Kerry would have fared better speaking 3,000 times, instead of just three, against gay nuptials.
Democrats should not blame Republicans for injecting the gay issue into the campaigns. Democrats inflicted the problem upon themselves. Just as the 2004 election campaigns heated up, some homosexual leaders - nearly all of them Democrats - decided to go for broke on gaining court approval for weddings for gay couples. It was a suicidal move. Yet no ranking Democrats ventured to suggest that organized homosexuals were undercutting the only major political force that tolerates and welcomes them.
As for abortions, Democrats have allowed Republicans to turn the issue of "a woman's choice" into an up-or-down decision on performing abortions. The abortion judgment is never that simple, as any affected woman or doctor or parent or pastor can testify.
Yet everybody in both parties speaks of being "pro-abortion" or "anti-abortion." The less definite "pro-choice" has disappeared from the 21st-century political lexicon.
Posting the Ten Commandments in public buildings raises a similar problem for the world's oldest political party. The American Civil Liberties Union, as firmly identified with the Democratic Party as the AFL-CIO, goes ballistic whenever someone suggests displaying the commandments in even a remote county courthouse.
Is the ACLU crazy or what? Voters may not live by the commandments, but they certainly believe posting them in public buildings does more good than harm. A public showing of the Ten Commandments only becomes a big deal when left-wingers decide to make it one. Legal rants against displaying biblical passages create an anti-Christian aura - not a wise move in a predominantly Christian state, regardless of First Amendment considerations.
As long as bigwigs in the state and national Democratic parties tiptoe around the far-out lefties among them, their organizations are dead ducks. Democrats have little hope of regaining power either in Georgia or the nation.
Secretary of State Cathy Cox's rejection of an invitation to join the Republican Party frankly surprised some of us. Why would she decline to become a powerful force for change in the state's dominant political party? Why would she remain active in what may be evolving into a dead-end organization of ding-a-lings who defend homosexual weddings and easy-to-get abortions and oppose publishing biblical admonitions?
At last weekend's meeting, Democrats batted around names for national chairman to be elected next year and for candidates for governor in 2006. They might be better served by putting the candidate list aside and working instead on getting their agenda in tune with the rest of the state and nation.