Friday, June 09, 2006

Don't Tread on Me, Kos

Pardon the belligerent sounding title. I was referring to an old flag of the American Revolution and how it might serve as one possible banner for a renewed Democratic party.

While I enjoyed Kos' recent diary "The Libertarian Dem," his suggestion sounds like yet another semantic ploy, a way of distinguishing ourselves not from the Republicans but from other Dems by claiming to be, in the words of that old chestnut, "A Different Kind of Democrat." Haven't we been down this road before? DLC, Third Way, Blue Dog Dem, Progressive vs. Liberal? All this does is buy into the premise of our opponents, namely that there is something inherently wrong with the Democratic Party as presently constituted. It buys into the Establishment Dem idea that all we need to do to win is come up with better advertising, when what we really need are candidates unafraid to stand up for traditional Democratic values. Polls and a recent diary demonstrate that when people know where we stand, we win. Tester exemplifies this. It is not our ideology or party name that needs changing. It's our candidates. We don’t need a new Party; we need new Democrats. Proud Democrats who stand and fight can win. New labels do nothing but contribute to the idea that we are running away from who we are. If "Democrat" was good enough for Harry Truman, it's good enough for me. This might seem like nitpicking, but if we are afraid of our own name (and its proud tradition), why would anyone vote Democrat?

As for the Libertarians, can we please avoid any association with their ilk? These are people who read too much Ayn Rand as undergrads and never fully recovered. Their philosophy is slightly less coherent than Scientology. If we hope to pluck the low-hanging SOBS (which I define as moderates and conservatives who are Sick Of Bush's Shit), why not attack Republicans "from the right" by adopting the glorious motto of our own American Revolution: Don't Tread on Me.

Americans can't seem to get enough of the Founding Fathers and the Revolution they started. One of the flags of that Revolution may hold the key to a Democratic resurgence. Called a Gadsden flag, it shows a coiled rattlesnake on a yellow field with the famous motto: Don't Tread on Me. I think this is a better response to Bush's bullshit than ill-advised name games. NSA hacking your computer and listening in on your calls: DON'T TREAD ON ME. Santorum between your sheets? DON'T TREAD ON ME. Tom De Lay paying bedside visits to your dying wife: DON'T TREAD ON ME. Christianists telling you your Jesus ain't their Jesus, and their Jesus is the right one: DON'T TREAD ON ME. Isn't it simpler to say to the disaffected: Republicans may once have defended your liberties against an encroaching state, but no more. Today it is the Democratic Party which defends the traditional, "conservative" values of our Founding Fathers (who are no doubt rolling over in their graves at the mockery this administration has made of their intentions).

Remember the realignment that occurred when Southern Dems became Republicans, because that's where the racism had gone and race-baiting was their favorite sport? Imagine the realignment that will occur when people realize Republicans have abandoned the values of our Founding Fathers. It doesn't require us to change our name, only clarify that we stand for what they stood for. It's the same idea Kos is pushing, but it's simpler and strikes me as a better tactic than buying into the sham notion that there is something inherently wrong with the Democratic Party, which must now reinvent itself as a hybrid beast with the head of Brian Schweitzer and the body of the Cato Institute.