It's pretty sad when an NPR talk show gets a chuckle from the audience by joking about the lack of any organized framework for the Democratic Party platform. Which is a great opportunity for me to push a framework I've been able to use with great success. For those of you who read my diaries and have jumped on board, I know you're sick of hearing this. For those who haven't, feel free to join the movement for integrity, competence and the common good.
The joke, of course, is that Dems agree on so many things that we appear disjointed and confused. Or may 'appear' is too kind a word. We ARE disjointed and confused. And we need a simple framework for talking about we stand for. 'Wait Wait' said the Dems are working on SIX major themes for the 06 election. I can tell you with absolute confidence that six is too many. Three is the right number, and these are the right three . . .
Competence. We must lead with and embrace competence. Even from Republicans - though I don't see much out there. The right wing is great at making money, but they suck at public sector management . . . probably because they truly hate government.
Integrity is not just about laws, it is also about transparency and honesty. Having secretive people running our government and profiting personally from their jobs is wrong. Honest people know that.
Common good is where the great debate erupts -- because there can be honest disagreements about what the common good actually is. .
This framework can helps you organize your thinking and positions about any issue. In an earlier diary, I note that abortion has historically been a loaded debate about common good. But the recent emergence of the integrity issue changes the game. We will be more effective when we argue for choice from a stand for integrity. For example, if abortion truly is murder, then mothers should be executed for killing unborn children. Here in North Carolina, we have the death penalty for premediated murder. We execute murderers all the time. You cannot justify a double standard. Right to lifers who don't support death (or life imprisonment) for murdering mothers have no leg to stand on. I've had this argument with RTL's many times. You can see the panic in their eyes when they confront their own lack of integrity. They do not want to execute women for having abortions. A five-week old fetus is not the same a living human being . . . and this forces them to confront that reality.
Katrina? Easy to frame as a competence issue. Everyone knows that. Bush's War? No integrity, no competence and no regard for the common good . . . not our own national good, not the rest of the world's. Most people knows Bush manipulated the truth to get his way. Lack of integrity by a right wing machine that embraces the war trumps anything productive that might come from their actions.
Fiscal management? It is an issue of competence.
What this means in practice
We can fight 'common ground' battles when we have to, but competence and integrity are powerful promises that most people see more objectively.
When I talk about the Democratic party in North Carolina these days, I talk about Blue. And I say that Blue stands for competence, integrity and the common good.
Try it and let me know how it goes.