Dean Urges Appeal to Moral Values. DNC Chairman Calls for Democrats to Adopt GOP's Language to Woo Voters.
Dean acknowledged that he sees his party's national campaign apparatus as being "30 years behind" the one fielded in November by the Bush-Cheney campaign, and said the solution is for Democrats to be tough, describe themselves boldly and get organized in all 50 states. [Amen I say.]
"People want us to fight, and we are here to fight," Dean said during a quarterly meeting of the party's 64-member executive committee. "We are not going to lie down in front of the Republican machine anymore."
Dean's aides said he now realizes he needs to choose his words more carefully but plans to keep the pressure on Republicans.
Several key Democrats had said early last week that Dean should resign but concluded by week's end that there was no viable movement to oust him.
The Democratic National Committee's lead pollster, Cornell Belcher, said that religious people who have been stymied economically represent a huge opportunity for the party, and that the challenge is to portray moral values as "not just gay marriage and abortion."
It amounted to a call for the party to reclaim Reagan Democrats, the blue-collar social conservatives who have voted largely Republican for the past 20 years.
"We have not spoken about moral values in this party for a long time," Dean said. "The truth is, we're Democrats because of our moral values. It's a moral value to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry at night. . . . It is a moral value not to go out on golf trips paid for by lobbyists."
Belcher, the pollster, said the emphasis that many voters placed on moral values in November is "not a call to move to the right." He said that a lot of what he called "faith voters" -- those for whom religion plays an equal or more important role in determining their vote than conventional issues such as education -- "are up for grabs." He said those voters can be reached by acknowledging their fears about raising their children.
Strategists for both presidential campaigns detected a late shift to Bush by lower-income voters who were concerned about terrorism and values. Matthew Dowd, former chief strategist for Bush-Cheney, said these voters "decided they were voting in the national interest rather than their self interest on both the economy and national security."
Belcher said his "faith voters" are among the most economically anxious voters in the entire electorate. "They are not out of reach for us," he said. "They're not the crazy, right-winger extremist voters. They're the moms and pops."
Urging that health insurance be made available for every American, Dean said the party will "stand up for what only Democrats have done in the last 40 years in this country -- we're going to have a balanced budget." He called for "a strong defense, based on international cooperation," and said Democrats will equip soldiers "properly before we send them anywhere and we will treat them with dignity, without cutting their benefits when they get home."
Dean derided the attempted congressional intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, whose feeding tube was removed in March. "Do we think the American people want to have those kinds of decisions made by families, or should they be made by Tom DeLay and the politicians in Washington?" Dean asked. "A moral value is personal responsibility and individual freedom. And that is what Democrats are going to start to stand for -- moral values."
(6-12-05, The Washington Post.)