Saturday, November 06, 2004

Embrace Obama

I've been talking a lot about the Democrats needing a stronger party platform. Others have been talking too, and doing a more thorough job. I'm not very wonkish so I can't get too specific about issues; but I think I understand the general direction in which the party should move. Most of America isn't made up of policy wonks, so the platform has to feel good in a general way. It has to be sellable.
The Washington Monthly has an interesting article about Barack Obama. In reading some of the things Obama has said, I was struck by how clear and appealing his ideas and language are. The DNC shouldn't just tout him as a rising star, or try grooming him for the Presidency (a brilliant idea) - they should also listen to him. Here is someone who can be a powerful voice for the party; but unless the party adopts his ideas, and even his language, he will be a disembodied voice.
Again, all the Dems have to be speaking from the same basic platform.

"“Parents have to teach, that children can't achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.” Obama argued that his party could see beyond big government. “The people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don't expect government to solve all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead,” he said. “Go to the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don't want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon.” The import was hard to miss: Obama was casting himself as an unorthodox intellectual independent."

Obama - “The pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states… But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.”
This language makes so much sense. It is appealing and should be embraced by the Dems, not just given lip service. Obama's message reflects that note of personal responsibility felt by many that voted for Bush on values despite their economic circumstances (check out this post on Pandagon for more).

Let's focus on values - not on gay marriage or abortion - but on those values of responsibility. In this way, we are given a boon in the Bush Administration because even many Republicans see Bush as irresponsible.
On top of that, the Administration is one of the most secretive ever. That means it is hard to get information, but it should also be used to show that the Administration is avoiding true responsibility. That may be a stretch, but I have no doubt the Dems will be given plenty of fodder in the next two and four years. Let's use it.