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Snowden
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After losing seats in the Senate and the House,leading democratic political pundits are still missing the opportunity to frame the most potent issue in this government: Education.

Democrats are circling the wagons around security, economy, prescription drug benefits, welfare reform, but not education. It begs of the question of whether our politicians understand that crime, lawlessness, and electoral dilinquency can, and should, be addressed through educational policy.

In federalist paper 51, Madison argues that, "If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary."

Of course men are not born angels, they are born irritable, whining, self-serving animals without an awareness of the world around them and desperately in want of a tit to suckle in the name of instant gratification. The question is whether we are going to focus the upper eschelon of our government resources on curbing the animalistic impulses of criminals, blue collar or white, foreign or domestic, with regulations, jails, and the threat of force, or are we going to appeal to human mental faculties and raise the standard of what it is to be a functioning American above base animal urges, and closer to the angels. That's the debate the Democrats should introduce, along with pervasive specific measures to implement educational policy that would raise Americians awareness and knowledge of the world around them; fewer people would smoke, eat poorly, or do drugs eventually lowering the burden on health care, raise worker productivity, and bolster the pool of qualified and imaginative minds to consider the problems inherent national security.

To be sure, this is government making a concerted effort to raise the intellectual, political, and interpersonal caliber of the populace above that of an infant.

No, this is not a short term approach which will pay dividends within the fiscal quarter, but the government should not solely be in the business of short term vision.

This educational policy is invasive, almost necessarily. This is the government thinking carefully about, debating, and eventually telling parents how they should raise their kids. This isn't an NBC public service announcement; rather, it's the President using the state of the Union address to ask parents to read to their children, because that is good for America. It's an approach that will command the attention of every parent, child and student, raise voter turnout and force the party and the people to develop a concrete idea of what it is to be an educated and contemplative American while still respecting a plurality of religious and cultural beliefs, then rigorously advocate for bringing about that ideal amongst the people.

We need to further explore the slippery distinction between public and private, and think hard about how the government can aide parents and teachers in their awesome task of rearing and educating Americans. Education in terms of the practice and vigorous analytic decision making about abstract and concrete moral and social situations, exciting our naturally curious intellect, leading to lower crime, economic empowerment, and remedies to most of our national ills. Promoting this ideal should be the first, second, and third priority of a democratic govenrment. Thankfully, our government has room for more than three priorities because I do believe that security, prescription drugs, and welfare are also the business of good government, but they seem to be getting enough attention.

[This message has been edited by Snowden (edited November 09, 2002).]


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Everard
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One thing I see as positive is the possibility of the democratic party selecting a liberal house minority leader. The "left wing" party has always done better when its been a progressive party, rather then moving towards the center. In the last 10 years, the democratic party has drifted in clinton's wake.. directly towards a centrist position. If the DNP can redefine itself, again, as a progressive party, then it will likely do better in the polls, and equally as important, distinguish itself from the GOP, giving our country two different parties, something that has been lacking for the last 10-12 years, and somethign I view as important in its own right.
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Baldar
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The biggest problem in education is the lack of accountability of students and parents.
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Baldar
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I actually hope the dem's do choose Nancy Pelosi (present party ) from San Francisco. I know her politics and she is very radical, Wellstone was to the right of her position. Nothing like a little marginalization of the party to increase the House and Senate count. Historically election years have increased the presidential party's count in both houses, she should magnify the possibility with her radicalism. I would be more worried if the moderate Frost from Texas came in as minority leader in the house. For all the things you can say about Gephardt, came into the House with a 53 seat loss in 1995 and has since picked up an additional 23 or 24 seats. The extreme wing does not speak well on a national level and while it might galvanize hard core dem's it will isolate swing voters. Clinton knew that when he started dragging the party to the right. Luckily dem's have short memories.
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Snowden
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quote:
The biggest problem in education is the lack of accountability of students and parents.

I agree, but what politican is going to wage a war on parents? The trick is understanding that we are talking about parents who, through either ignorance or incompetence, are only doing a mediocre job in the toughest profession there is.

Bringing the issue to the forefront of American politics and making it salient for those who would benefit the most is a tricky endeavor, but it is good for America.

[This message has been edited by Snowden (edited November 07, 2002).]


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Pete at Home
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quote:
Of course men are not born angels, they are born irritable, whining, self-serving animals without an awareness of the world around them and desperately in want of a tit to suckle in the name of instant gratification.

I know I'm desperate right now for a tit to suckle. Maybe that's a need that the Democratic party could capitalize on. If it didn't sway my vote, it would at least sway my attention.


quote:
I actually hope the dem's do choose Nancy Pelosi (present party ) from San Francisco.

Must be a pretty generous lady if you think that she can provide the whole party with instant gratification. To get serious, though, I think that the DNP is making a mistake by losing Gephart. The recent losses would have been much more severe if Mr. G had not been at the helm. He's the best presidential figure that the DNP has, but they are squandering him if they think they can run him in 2004 against a victorious wartime president. Tsk.

Funny thing is that Jackson and Sharpton don't seem to comprehend that their strategy backfired ... harping and dwelling on the so-called mass "disenfranchisement" of black voters that they claim occurred in 2000 did NOT exactly encourage black voters to come and vote in 2002. What were they thinking -- tell the voters that their votes won't be counted, but please come out to vote anyway? When the gods wish to punish us, they make us believe our own lies. I would laugh, except that it is more sad than funny. Black Floridians were disenfranchized more thoroughly than any year since Jim Crow, by their own so-called leaders that discouraged them away from the polls.

[This message has been edited by Pete at Home (edited November 08, 2002).]


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Pete at Home
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quote:
This isn't an NBC public service announcement; rather, it's the President using the state of the Union address to ask parents to read to their children, because that is good for America.

That's a fabulous idea, Snowden. I can see how that would be managed very effectivly on both a political and social level. I don't understand though how your suggestion fits into the guidelines of "what the Democrats should do." How do you propose to get the President of the United States to switch parties?


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Everard
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I think he's describing the sort of attitude towards education the DNP should adapt, rather then explaining specific tactics for the present, in that example.
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Pete at Home
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Ah. Thanks, Ev. It's a good and noble tactic. I would suggest a second and third focus:

2. Public Transportation.
Demonstrate that a) the poor can't get jobs if they can't get TO their jobs. b) the status quo of everyone driving alone in a car to work causes polution and increases our dependence on terrorism-supporting nations.

3. Internet Access and computer literacy. How can President Bush propose that no child be left behind when the poor have little computer access in schools? Internet access should be rendered as ubiquitous as phone service.

Infrastructure to create public transportation and to lay fiber-optic line where needed in the country is expensive, but LABOR-INTENSIVE; perfect for recession times.

What does this accomplish? The Democrats would prove that they are still the party of FDR and of Kennedy (note the parallels to 1930s public works and the establishment of ubiquitous telephone availability).

UNLESS YOU MOVE QUICKLY, BUSH WILL STEAL THAT MANTLE FROM YOU.

(Incidentally ... Focusing to balancing the budget was a brilliant tactic on the part of President Clinton & Dick Morris during the 1990s, but it's a terrible and self-defeating tactic today. Only the most miserly and callous Republicans have ever obsessed on balancing the budget during a recession, and I can't think of any idiot leader in history that has obsessed on balancing the budget during a global war.)


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Everard
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pete and I are in agreement here.

As I said earlier, becoming more progressive can't do anything but help, despite Baldar's claims to the contrary. At least in MA, many people voted green or libertarian rather them democrat, because O'Brien didn't distinguish herself as progressive enough. The core democrats are, at least here and I suspect nationwide, alienated from the party because its too moderate. Regaining that core is how the party can be sucessful again. WIthout the core, the party is simply a milder version of the GOP. With the core, we have two distinct parties... and has history has shown, the people will rally to a progressive party.


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Pete at Home
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Wow. Can't believe that Ev and I are in agreement here. I'd like to expand on that second point ...

Democrats need to recognize that Americans *are* actually at least as concerned at this point with the war as they are with the economy. They need to take a page from Dick Morris on this and co-opt the Republican agenda, promoting CONSERVATION as a matter of NATIONAL DEFENSE and of patriotism. Americans have rejected gas taxes and conservation measures during peacetime, but they DID accept them from credible leaders during WWII. Contrary to world opinion, we are a people who is willing to sacrifice, when we feel that sacrifice is warranted.

Bill Clinton and Al Gore are not presently running for office -- they have nothing to lose. I propose that the Democratic party deploy them to speak around the country beating in the message that SUVs, cheap gas, and excessive petroleum consumption puts resources in the pockets of our enemies TO A GREATER DEGREE AND MORE DIRECTLY THAN CONSUMPTION OF DRUGS. I am talking about an ad blitz. Because this is clearly not a pre-election season, this blitz of publicity would not be subject to campaign finance laws, but it would seed the field for the 2004 election, planting the message that it is the DEMOCRATS who are willing to make sacrifices for the safety of the country, and that on the consumption level, it is the REPUBLICANS who are the appeasers who allow terrorism to grow.

Imagine Gore being able to say, in 2004 "President Bush opposes measures to reduce oil consumption that has bankrolled terrorist attacks from Tel Aviv to Manhattan." [Flash pictures of Osama Bin Ladin, the falling towers, etc.] "I do not question Mr. Bush's patriotism: I question his judgement."


I think that American reaction -- particularly of New Yorkers -- to 9-11 demonstrated that the Americans of the 1940s who fought the greatest war after suffering a terrible depression are not entirely lost to us as we had feared. Although spoiled as a nation and seemingly soft, when attacked by a pitiless adversary we actually RELISH giving of ourselves to protect our neighbor and to advance a noble cause. Not just relish -- we DEMAND it. Every little request that Bush has made of the people (treat Moslem neighbors with dignity and kindness, have kids send money to Afghan children, vote Republican to "send him allies") has been met beyond all reasonable expectations. In fact, where Bush has failed as a leader is that he has demanded too LITTLE of the American people during this time, hoarding the capital of patriotism rather than deploying it in a good cause. Americans are unsatisfied with the progress of this war, and feel HELPLESS ... we want to be able to DO something. People who feel unable to do anything to advance their situation, instead shrink back into apathy, and look to the government to solve their problems.

Unfortunately, since Kennedy's murder, it is the Republicans who have taken the mantle of the ones who tell the American people to ask what they can do for their country, and the Democrats who tell Americans to ask what their country can do for them. This is a time that the Democrats, if they have the courage, can seize the initiative and reclaim Kennedy's mantle. So far only Lieberman and Hillary Clinton seem to comprehend this -- that they can "support" the president while hinting that Bush is insufficiently decisive and not taking things far ENOUGH, not fully considering the fullness of the threat to the country, TOO TIMID to do what needs to be done. If the Democrats have a savvey bone in their broken body, they should make elect either Senator Clinton or Senator Lieberman to replace Tom Dashle.

quote:
WIthout the core, the party is simply a milder version of the GOP. With the core, we have two distinct parties...

Another way to look at it: Do you disagree that the finest hours of the Democratic party were under FDR and under JFK?

Note that both during FDR and during JFK, it is the Republican party that appeared to be the milder or less reliable version of the Democratic party. But both FDR and JFK managed to appear to set aside the traditional political AGENDA of the party, and focused all of their rhetoric against the SPECIFIC PALPABLE THREATS that the country was facing. Just as Lincoln was willing to de-emphasize SLAVERY (which had been his lifelong agenda up to that point) in order to prevent the nation from being torn apart. But note that after quelling the crisis of dissension, he managed to end slavery as well... because he made emancipation the MEANS to the END.

In recent years, Americans have proved too selfish to accept conservation and gasoline economy for economic reasons, but in WWII we proved willing to accept such sacrifices and much more, for reasons of patriotism and national security... and that was before gas money was used to buy the deaths of our children, countrymen, and allies. How much more would we embrace such needed measures today, IF our leaders made the necessity clear for us?

[This message has been edited by Pete at Home (edited November 08, 2002).]


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Kentuckian
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I care very little about what the Democrats should or should not do. Education policy on the other hand is fairly near the top of my priority list. On that I completely agree with Snowden.

However, I must disagree that any form of increased federal involvement in education is what we need at the moment. I think that our country does not to focus more of its energy on education, but I don't think the tool of the federal government is the one that fits.

Increased centralization in education leads to blanket solutions applied to diverse areas with diverse needs. Even if one applies a solution which causes gains for the majority of schools, one will inevitably cause problems for a minority, even reducing educational quality in some instances.

Refocusing the nations attention would be excellent... Handing control over to an all powerful centralized education authority would almost certainly be bad.


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TheSilentAssassin
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I'm just curious as to how many of the people here championing conservation are carpooling, using public transportation, or driving propane cars.
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Pete at Home
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You forgot bicycle. I had one work commute that involved a bike ride, a bus ride, and then another bike ride. Pretty tough to do in this country where public transportation is so weak. I grew up in more civilized countries, where I virtually never chose to travel by car, since I could get anywhere via bus & subway for a reasonable price, and in many cases, more quickly.

Public transportation in this benighted country is less convenient, costs more, offers inadequate coverage both geographically and in hours, etc. Of course people don't use it. For some reason we subsidize the road system, but we force public transportation to pay for itself. Just one more way that Americans use government to subsidize the rich and to screw the poor.

[This message has been edited by Pete at Home (edited November 08, 2002).]


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Dan Allen
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quote:
Public transportation in this benighted country is less convenient, costs more, offers inadequate coverage both geographically and in hours, etc. Of course people don't use it. For some reason we subsidize the road system, but we force public transportation to pay for itself. Just one more way that Americans use government to subsidize the rich and to screw the poor.

Do you have any recent examples of public transportation actually paying for itself? Without washing the costs through the public budget? There might be some back east, but how about out here in the west?
I've considered commuting on the bus system here; it would require a bike on both ends (5 mile on the work side), and about an hour on the bus, and that's the express route! It takes about 25 minutes for me to drive the same 17 miles.

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Puretext
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You need to get a new house or a new job. I don't think I'm even related to somebody who lives that far from work!

KB

ps. scratch that. I do have an uncle who does about a 30 mile commute. Everyone else is within 10 miles of work.


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Snowden
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Kentuckian, you talk about a diverse population with diverse needs, but we are one America and one people.

Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign was an attempt to build a more successful America through drug and alcohol awareness. The effectiveness of her campaign's particular approach may be called into question, but her expanding the role of government into America's classroom was spot on.

I don't care how diverse the populace is, there are some talents that every student should be taught: being able to tell difference between what they know and what they don't, being able to find out the information they need, and being able to effectively use the information that they have gained.

Whether a student is trying to learn how to fix a car or fix his/her psyche, the above principles are ubiquitous and necessary for Americans; however, they are not emphasised or articulated well in our political sphere.

I freely admit that it may be more relavent for a Californian to learn about the Mayans, and a Kentuckian to learn about Daniel Boone, but let's not throw out the idea of a federal plan for education just because of regional quirks. We ALL need to learn what it is to be a thoughtful American.

Edit:

Geez, I need to keep a part-time editor on retainer to catch all of my foibles... or just be more careful when I write. Potato, Po-tah-to

[This message has been edited by Snowden (edited November 10, 2002).]


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Baldar
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Diverse talents....diverse needs. Now thats a throw away sentence. It doesn't say anything more than send us more money.

You can stretch diverse needs to the ad nauseum level of individual teachers for each individual student, after all all students are different and have "diverse" needs.

It is better to say the following:
1-What does the student need to learn to take care of himself in society?
2-What does the student have to learn to be successful in society?
3-What does the student have to learn to feel fulfilled in society?

Finally....

What or how does the teacher meet those needs listed in priority of the order given above? The final portion should be taught mostly by the parents throughout the life of the student.


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Pete at Home
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Actually I think that made sense. While education is mostly a matter for local government (who can best ascertain and meet local needs), the Federal government is in the best position to promote points of education that should be common to the whole nation. Snowden uses Nancy Reagan's anti-drug campaign, but I think that Snowden's own proposed promotion of literacy is a much better example of bully pulpit leadership. This is the sort of thing that Republican presidents have used, from Teddy Rosevelt to George Bush Sr.'s points of light campaign.
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Dan Allen
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"You need to get a new house or a new job."

Actually, long commutes are fairly common out here. Local housing costs are all over the map depending on which community you are talking about. I first moved here to work for a small company, and ended up buying a house in an older section of Mesa that was less than a quarter mile from my office. I walked, and my officemates thought I was nuts (NOBODY goes outside for any length of time in the summer.) I didn't get along with the owners, so I changed jobs. My new company has been in this location for more than twelve years; the location was so far out when they built it that there was nothing but farms for twenty miles. There are now houses within 2 miles of the plant, but typically have less floorspace, and run about 50% more in cost - in short, I can't afford to move closer, and there are not a lot of companies hiring any closer to home.


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Brian
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quote:
You need to get a new house or a new job. I don't think I'm even related to somebody who lives that far from work!
KB

ps. scratch that. I do have an uncle who does about a 30 mile commute. Everyone else is within 10 miles of work



Wow. I currently work 22 miles (35 minutes) from home. I am very happy with this because my last job was 40 miles (55 min) away. I know several people who commute up to an hour each way.


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Baldar
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I have commuted as much as 100 miles each way. Right now I commute 20. Depends on what you do with your time while driving I guess.
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Baldar
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As to what democrats should do, here is what some in Georgia have done.

quote:
— Democratic defections are changing the balance of power in Georgia's state Senate, just days after Republican Sonny Perdue won the Georgia governor's race, putting a Republican in the state's top seat for the first time in 130 years.





State Sen. Dan Lee, formerly a Democrat, is the first lawmaker to have switched parties in the wake of Perdue's stunning victory.

"Sonny Perdue told me he wants me to help him govern Georgia whether I changed parties or not. I made this decision three or four months ago, before the end of the campaign," Lee said.

Not long after his defection on Friday, Democratic Sen. Don Cheeks also jumped onto the Republican bandwagon.

"It took me a few years to do what I'm doing today. But I do intend to be a part of the best administration I hope the state will ever see under Sonny Perdue, under Republican leadership," Cheeks said.

Prior to last Tuesday's election, Georgia's state Senate was comprised of 23 Republicans and 33 Democrats. The day after, the Democrats lost three seats to Republican gains.

With two senators switching parties, the state Senate is now evenly split — 28 Republicans and 28 Democrats.

Political analysts suggest the party switch may be a backlash to aggressive redistricting done by Democrats, which divided communities and left some party members fighting for their political survival.

"In one case, [a Democratic district] was drawn so it would remain a Democratic district, but probably become a minority district. One of the senators who switched is the representative from that district. So, it's one of those cases where they shot at the emperor, missed and wound up paying the price for it," said Jim Wooten of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The newspaper reported last week that Democratic state Sen. Rooney Bowen has announced plans to switch to the GOP, giving the Republican Party its first majority in the Georgia Senate since reconstruction.


From Fox news.

Seems to me the "big tent" as some dem's who refer to their party, is getting substantially smaller. So is it core values or politics? And if you stand for something for everyone, don't you eventually stand for nothing in particular?


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