When the Dean speaks, the Democratic Party better listen, Part II. Sid's response to the Dean concerning the issues the Dean raised.
Mr. Shipp, you suggest in your recent column that our Party will be best served if we get our agenda in tune with the rest of the state of Georgia and the nation.
Dean, please know that this is what we are about; at least it is our intent, and what we know we must do. You may call it our agenda; we consider it our working on and refining of our message.
Although I wish I could say that everyone in our Party heard the same message on Nov. 2 as you and I did, we both know this is not the case.
Many remain in denial. Others seem to think being "right" is all that matters, with of course those doing the thinking also determining what they deem to be right.
But good Sir, I do know that the leadership of the state Party, official or otherwise, recognizes that the Democratic Party in Georgia has lost some its luster and former glory as evidenced by the results of the November results in 2004 for a reason. (I do not buy into the current thinking that such reason is the same that caused our first disaster on Nov. 5, 2002. I attribute the latter loss to arrogance.)
And this leadership also recognizes that perception is important, sometimes more so than the actual facts themselves. And such leadership recognizes that our Party suffers from perceptual problems, serious perceptual problems.
This leadership also knows that the political pendulum is always swinging, and that if we awaken from our pre-Nov. 2, 2004 slumber, we are a long way from becoming a dead-end organization and joining the ranks of the Federalists and the Whigs.
As noted in my recent write up on the state Executive Committee meeting, this leadership knows that remembering from whence we came will not interfere with our being flexible, innovative, and above all, inclusive of all, including new and accomodating ideas and platforms.
And with the kind of enthusiasm that has surfaced on a statewide basis since Nov. 2 of this year, it is apparent to me that the job has begun in earnest to right the Democratic Party’s ship in this great state.
Sure we’ve got our work cut out for us, but with the interest shown before, at and after the state Executive Committee meeting about which you wrote, I feel confident that we are up to the task.
In doing this, we know we must reconnect with the voters of this state. Kerry may not have minded you and others saying he appeared to be anti-family and anti-religious, but you are not going to be talking about us if you use such language. We are in our post-Nov. 2 mode.
It seems that in the past anytime Democrats met, the first order of business was to divide us into our Party's various caucuses as we identified ourselves. There was the black caucus, the Hispanic caucus, the lesbian and gay caucus, etc.
But what happens in the future when I try to bring one of my high school buddies back into our Party's fold? He will not be accustomed to going to Democratic meetings and having to be identified as being in one of several of our Party's constituencies?
In such a situation you know what this white male voter is going to immediately wonder -- where do I fit in? Where's the white guys' caucus?
For these and other reasons, we are into a very different mode now Mr. Shipp. We are now in the process of rebuilding, and as such we are far less interested in black caucuses and white caucuses and Hispanic caucuses. We want Democratic caucuses.
And in this process of rebuilding, we are far less interested in liberal caucuses and conservative caucuses. Again, we want Democratic caucuses.
And along the same line, I will tell you that my buddy shares something in common with millions of farmers, factory workers, waitresses and just plain ole regular good people in Georgia and across our country. He ended up voting -- utterly against his own interest -- for Republican candidates. We are going to address and take care of this between now and 2006.
And since ours is the Party of hope and dreams, the Party of the People, the party of inclusion, we think there is room in our Party for beliefs that we share with most Americans, those who hold middle-of-the-road positions on abortion, guns, taxes and other issues.
Mr. Shipp, having given you our general feeling of where we want to go, please do not think we have intentionally ignored making a big deal about what you called two primary issues facing our Party -- things you said we do not want to discuss last weekend. But they just aren't primary with us, at least not in our post-Nov. 2 mode.
One of what you identified as a 800-pound gorilla -- Gay Marriage -- while inconspicuous at last weekend's Executive Committee meeting, wasn't completely silent as you noted.
Rather Mayor Andrew Young noted that "Georgia law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman, and Georgia has found a way to get along."
We think that this is a good way to address the issue, and leave it at that.
You think that is a little ambigious you say? Take it, like it or don't like it; but that is our position on the matter.
You insist on more you say. Well, because of your loyalty to our Party and because I know you are a great Democrat who often gets verbally killed and criticized as the messenger (as did I in the comment to the previous post), I will give you more.
Our position: As a Party we believe in the wisdom and legality of conventional wedlock.
Oh sure we used to go a bit further and let you know what we think about all of the fuss about same-sex marriages being nothing but gay bashing, but that's behind us.
(And this was not just put behind us by the Nov. 2 election; rather it came with the filing of the second lawsuit challenging the constitutional amendment filed post-Nov. 2. See the 11-11-04; 11-28-04; and 12-10-04 posts and posts linked therein for background to this statement.
And yes I have not forgotten and very much appreciate the post I did on 10-19-04 entitled "What a difference a word makes. -- Same-sex marriage. Hell no say 60%+ of Georgians. Same-sex union. Why not." That same theme is discussed in the 12-10-04 post noted in the previous paragraph that has as its subject a recent New York Times article that reports that the "Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian advocacy group, has . . . adopted a new, more moderate strategy, with less emphasis on legalizing same-sex marriages and more on strengthening personal relationships. The leadership of the Human Rights Campaign . . . [has] concluded that the group must bow to political reality and moderate its message and its goals. . . . Lawyers representing some gay groups have concluded that challenging antimarriage amendments in individual states is a losing proposition even if they win in some courts because American society is not yet ready to accept the idea of same-sex partners sharing the same rights as heterosexual couples.")
On the other identified 800-pound gorilla -- Abortion -- with all due respect Sir, we beat you out of the gate on this issue and have left you at the starting line.
But first, we do note that we plead guilty as charged to the following statement contained in your column:
"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."
But we also agree with your statement that "[t]he abortion judgment is never that simple, as any affected woman or doctor or parent or pastor can testify."
It is for that reason that on behalf of my Party I recently wrote -- on a Democratic blog on one of the internets -- that:
"I am pro-choice, not because I am a Democrat, but because I think it should be a woman's choice, and definitely not mine unless it happened to be my wife or daughter.
"But what if someone has religious convictions different from me; do we not have room in the Party for such person?
"Howard Dean on 'Meet the Press' just got through saying 'I have long believed that we ought to make a home for pro-life Democrats.'
"And he is taking the lead from Bush, who even as he supported an amendment to the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, emphasized tolerance, breaking with his most conservative Christian supporters to repeatedly say he favored allowing states to recognize same-sex couples in other ways, like civil unions."
And in a 12-06-04 post entitled "The issues: (1) How about a reprise from Mr. Clinton on abortion being safe, legal & rare; & (2) Let's say Demo's for planned parenthood; GOP opposes," I wrote:
"As we reach out to religious voters, we should quit arguing the legality of abortion, and rather shift the theme to abortion should be 'safe, legal and rare.' And just as we want to see fewer abortions, we want our children to learn good values -- at home, in school, at Sunday school and at church with their parents.
"(Come on now, suck it up a little; the rules of engagement changed on Nov. 2.)
"Good values, health care, jobs and sex education can reduce the number of abortion procedures, and who can be opposed to that.
"The above 'safe, legal and rare' was Mr. Clinton's formulation for abortion, and the incidence of abortion fell under President Bill Clinton and rose under President George W. Bush."
This is our position Sir. We are beyond pro-choice and into things such as planned parenthood, if this is one's desire and does not interfere with his or her religious and moral beliefs.
We are beyond letting the forces of evil continue to outmaneuver us. We are reflecting back on how we operated when we were the Big Tent Party, and how we can tolerate opinions and positions divergent from perhaps a majority of the Party.
It is not our intent in our post Nov. 2 mode to be put on the defensive. We recognize that Karl Rove, Inc. wants to force us to defend taxes and lawyers, gay rights and unfettered access to abortion.
We're not going there. We're going to the Governor's mansion and the White House, and will remember and look after those who help get us there, just as President Clinton did when he was elected in 1992.
And we do appreciate the majority of our Party, the Party faithful. It is our base, and we know that in order to win future elections, we must we expand our base and appeal to other voters without alienating our base, the Party faithful.
If we are to remain a relevant part, we must come together and stay together. As I stated in my 12-10-04 post:
"'A house divided against itself cannot stand,' said Abraham Lincoln, paraphrasing the Master's words found in Matthew 12:25. 'And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.'
"Words of wisdom for all ages, and especially appropriate for us to remember in the challenging days as we recognize and accept that we no longer are a majority party; that our base is now only 42% or less; and that we must expand on the base while being sure to keep our base."
And truthfully Sir, we are not going to get beaten up and run over by making a grand stand opposing those who what to post the Ten Commandments in public buildings. Our position on this is that it is up to the courts to determine, and we expert that this matter will be resolved by the courts sooner rather than later.
We do agree with you that we all would do better if we tried harder to live by the biblical admonitions contained therein.
And also, and even though you did not mention this Sir, please know that we strongly resist taking "under God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, and hopefully some of us will have the courage to publicly say so when this comes up again before the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. If the national Party takes a different stand, so be it.
With respect to there being any identity of interest of our Party with the American Civil Liberties Union, we thought that went down in the defeat of Michael Dukakis years ago. You must be confusing us with former Rep. Bob Barr.
And as far as organized labor is concerned, we do not deny that it has traditionally been a friend of our Party during feast and famine, although we consider it a healthy sign that it no longer dictates our positions on issues.
And also within our state, labor in Atlanta recognizes and understands that organized labor cannot always receive red carpet treatment in the Other Georgia. Organized labor in Atlanta accepts that this is reality at the present time, but still we all consider one another to be good Democrats, and will continue to work for the Party and the common good.
And finally, some of us did not understand your surprise that Secretary of State Cathy Cox would decline an invitation to join the Philistines.
In my recent write up of the state Executive Committee meeting in Atlanta, I noted that Rep. Calvin Smyre hit a grand slam talking about our Party and our future. I stressed how impressed I was with his firm grasp of and understanding the big picture, and knowing what we must do to prevail in 2006 and 2008.
I also noted that if Rep. Smyre says something, our Party "can take it to the bank."
Well, one thing I did not include in my write up of the meeting was a comment Rep. Smyre made about the relationship of the Democratic Party of Georgia and the NDC.
When he was saying that it was time for us as a state Party to make our views known to the DNC, and if we do and still we are ignored, the Democratic Party of Georgia can at least "go down in dignity."
We trust Cathy Cox has the same feeling with regard to her relationship with the Party, given the long history she and her father and family have of being one of us and us part of her.
It is a different situation from when Gov. Perdue bolted parties because of his frustration with a certain element of our Party. Today someone leaving our Party -- more often than not -- would be doing so out of his or her hopes for personal gain.
And such persons need to remember, as you have told us before Dean, that party switching can be hazardous to one's political health.
The following comes from the Web site of the Coffee County Democratic Committee. It concerns Georgia's Poster Child Party Switcher, Rep. Chuck Sims. Substitute Ms. Cox's name for that of Chuck Sims, and you have her political status and future if she jumps parties.
Recently I made the mistake of telling someone Chuck's goose was cooked. I was promptly corrected; Chuck's goose is charcoal broiled the person said. Chuck's political future is a matter of years -- two from now to be exact, unless he resigns prior to 2006.
Cathy Cox's political future too would be jeopardized, I think, if she jumped parties, her female vote getting ability and TV personality and audience notwithstanding. Just as the Poster Child Party Switcher Chuck Sims, she too would become a person without a party.
-- Did you ever read Sir Walter Scott's poem about a man without a country? If you change a few words, it very accurately describes Rep. Chuck Sims' current situation. For truly Chuck is a man without a party.
A Man Without a Party (or if you prefer),
An Ode to Chuck
Breathes there the man with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my natural group!
Whose heart no longer within him burns,
As home his footsteps he hath turn'd
From wandering on his self-made coup?
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no longer his District's raptures swell;
High though his ego, once his proud name,
Boundless his statewide publicity as wish can claim;
Despite the countless press, perceived power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust, from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
-- Since most the words of our Ode to Chuck are those of Sir Walter Scott, how fitting it is to note that this Scottish author also wrote the following well-known verse that also describes Chuck's course of action:
"Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practise to deceive!”
Chuck has made his own bed, and Chuck will have to lie in it.