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.