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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Democratic leadership: 2006 is the Bridge

I promised I would write about what I mean by "a generational change" in Democratic leadership. Here goes.

It is my firm belief that the leaders who will carry our party forward will come to prominence over the next six-ten years. Currently, there is what I will call a "bridge generation" in Democratic leadership that will help pave the way for this next generation to emerge. The Democratic Party we are building is about this nation's future over the next 25-50 years. The "bridge generation"'s role is to make this possible, to pave the way.

There is a single standard that we can apply to judge if someone represents the change we want to see....to understand if someone is a member of the "bridge generation:"

Can you help us elect Democrats in vulnerable Republican districts nationwide in 2006?

Is your message, your ethos, your character such that if you were to show up and support a candidate like Mary Jo Kilroy or Francine Busby or Coleen Rowley or Amy Klobuchar or Heath Shuler or Diane Farrell or Lois Murphy...is your character such that you would be a welcome face? Can you win voters to our side in the districts we need to win in to take back Congress? Can you convince voters that you represent something NEW in the Democratic party?

John Kerry, though I supported him, does not pass the 2006 test. Jesse Jackson, though I love him, does not pass the 2006 test. Dianne Feinstein does not pass the 2006 test. Ted Kennedy does not pass the 2006 test. Joe Biden flunks the 2006 test. Joe Lieberman does not pass the 2006 test. They are not the "bridge generation." We thank them for their service and welcome their behind-the-scenes support of our cause. It is, however, time for us as a party to move on. There are many leaders who pass the 2006 test.

John Edwards passes this test.
Wesley Clark passes this test.
Barack Obama passes this test.
Hillary Clinton passes this test.
Evan Bayh passes this test.
Mark Warner passes this test.
Bill Richardson passes this test.
Janet Napolitano passes this test.
Russ Feingold passes this test.
Jennifer Granholm passes this test.
Al Gore passes this test.
Shirley Franklin passes this test.

The test is non-ideological. Paul Wellstone, were he alive, would pass this test. I want to be clear on this. You CAN be progressive and speak a language everyone can respect and understand. I know this to my core and will try to write about this consistently down the road. But the "bridge" isn't about ideology or age. Not at all.

The bridge is about one core criterion: you've got to be relevant in 2006. You must be about our future, about moving forward, about positivity, about reform, about how we can do better for our nation and our kids. You must be able to stand in front of an audience in a swing district, in a swing state and be able to say with conviction: "I'm a Democrat, and I'm ready to make the change we all want to see for our nation. You may not agree with me on every issue, but you know my integrity and my convictions mean that I understand the imporance of the American value of working together. That is what we Democrats are about to do in this country, and we want your help."

If I were a party poobah...and who is, really, who is?...I would send out this "bridge generation" to pave the way for a sea change in American politics.

  • I'd have John Edwards talk about Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.
  • I'd have Wesley Clark talk about building national security through true international coalitions.
  • I'd have Barack Obama talk about real bipartisan reform of Congress.
  • I'd have Hillary Clinton talk about why Health Care reform is long overdue.
  • I'd have Evan Bayh talk about the legacy of GOP corruption in our government.
  • I'd have Mark Warner talk about the "power of working together" under Democratic leadership.
  • I'd have Bill Richardson talk about the meaning of national security in the terrorist age.
  • I'd have Janet Napolitano talk about meaningful immigration reform.
  • I'd have Russ Feingold talk about how liberty, patriotism and democracy are based on our Constitution.
  • I'd have Jennifer Granholm talk about how education, for everyone, is the only answer to our changing economy.
  • I'd have Al Gore talk about why the environment matters to our economy, and about the power of big ideas.
  • I'd have Shirley Franklin talk about the power of families working together to build community with the support of local government.

  • That for me, is the "bridge generation"...that is how we have to talk. And we need those leaders, and those faces to help us cross to the promised land of a legistative majority. (Btw, I welcome your debate and suggestions on this.)

    In sum, I'd like to think that the "Generation of 2006," both those leaders who help us win and the candidates we election, will be something we talk about in years to come.

    I'd like to think that this moment in 2006 has something to do with patriotism and love of country. We are all Americans. We Democrats are willing to come together and rally around new leadership to make our country work, to make our nation strong, and to renew our committment to our core national values.

    In real ways, the generation of 2006 is about the "Spirit of 1776". It's time for us to take up that flag and make a new day for our party by making real change for Americans.


    • I like this way of thinking. A lot. It helps marry a short-term focus on 2006 to a long-term strategy of remaking the Democratic Party and, thus, the nation.

      By Anonymous eugene, at 5:31 PM  

    • I like your overall drift, but I'm not so sure you've got Clinton and Granholm in the right category. Their obsession with banning videogames would seem to put them in the Dinosaur camp.

      By Blogger Ben Masel, at 11:49 PM  

    • yeah, I was surprised to see Clinton in this batch too. I wouldn't want her anywhere near Lois Murphy, to whom I'm giving time and money...

      By Blogger ACM, at 8:02 AM  

    • Love the blog. I'm gonna link to you. C'mon by and see if I'm evil enough to be linked to

      By Blogger Ted, at 10:09 AM  

    • I'm all for new leadership in Dem party. Lord knows, the leadership we have now is principally responsible for enabling the mess the Repubs have got us in.

      Your list, however, leaves a lot to be desired, as far as I'm concerned.

      Hillary? Standing up in a swing district??????

      Bayh is relevant???

      What about John Murtha talking about Iraq?

      What about Bernie Sanders? Bernie is an avowed SOCIALIST, who consistently draws the bulk of the hard-core rural conservative vote in Vermont (no so liberal a state as some would like you to believe), who speaks frankly about how government favors the rich and the corporations over ordinary people.

      How about Schweitzer in Montana?

      Obama? My jury's still out on him. Sounded good at the convention, has seemed to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease since he got to DC

      By Blogger leftvet, at 12:12 PM  

    • re: LeftVet

      Murtha and Sanders are interesting suggestions. (They have very different politics from one another, too.) Murtha and Sanders courtesy of Progressive Punch.

      On the rest, I think we disagree. Are you suggesting NOT including Hillary, Bayh or Obama...saying that they are not relevant to help elect Democrats....and proposing Sanders and Murtha instead?

      I just don't see that. I may not agree with Hillary or Bayh all the time, but they are relevant, and have a seat at the table. Hell, my issue with them is that they aren't helping enough.

      I endorse Barack Obama and give him broad leeway to craft his own message because I like not just what he says, but how he says it.

      He'd be more popular if he didn't take any stands at all. But then he wouldn't be Barack Obama. He's building a Feingold-style track record. You can disagree with it, but it's not bought and sold.

      By Blogger kid oakland, at 2:30 PM  

    • You may be right about Bayh; frankly, I don't know that much about him, but what I just read, I liked. I was primarily judging him by his affiliation with the DLC, and the fact that he voted for the Iraq War.

      Obama, I didn't say exclude, I said, for me, I haven't formed a final judgement yet. I have slightly different criteria from you; not just that they have a place at the table, but that they come to the table with PRINCIPLES. Not ideology, and not just integrity. Obama's past seems to suggest principles, but I have not been impressed with him since he got to DC. We'll see...

      As for Hillary, I am most definitely suggesting not including her. She is a lightening rod for controversy, an unprincipled triangulator, and, in my opinion, an absolute death sentence for the Dem party if she moves into any kind of leadership position.

      Bernie will probably never leave Vermont for election season; his Vermont-cdentric view is one of the reasons those conservative rural Vermonters love him. But I think the rest of the party could learn an awful lot from him in terms of how you package a progressive message that doesn't compromise on principle but rings true to a conservative ear.

      I include Murtha, because he has shown the Dems how to get out of Iraq. I don't completely agree with the "Murtha Plan" -- I would rather see something more immediate, more permenant, and more acknowledging of the original mistake of invading -- but I'm also enough of a realist to know that that would probably never sell politically. Murtha has offered a reasonable, centrist way to extricate our national butt from the terrible mess that Bush and his chickenhawk coterie have plunged us into, and it is unfathomable to me that the Dems haven't lined up behind him.

      As you may expect, war and the war in Iraq in particular are my principal political focus. Frankly, I believe it should be -- and IS -- the principal political focus of the country.

      I absolutely believe that if the Dems as a party unite behind the Murtha Plan, they will take back the Congress in November.

      I also have little hope that they will.

      By Blogger leftvet, at 8:22 PM  

    • I absolutely love the list of message points for each of the bridge generation members. I'm going to keep those handy for political discussions that are sure to arise this year. Let's hope the DNC et al take a look at this - it's an excellent start to the tough project of crafting our message for the election and not just looking like whiners. You articulate the progressive vision very well - Cheers!

      By Anonymous Archana, at 2:57 PM  

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