FAITH: This probably bothers me more than most, as I am a man of faith. In the 60’s and 70’s, our party was considered the party of the faithful: progressive ministers marched for civil rights, peace, and economic equality. (Carter was also the only president to teach Sunday school in the White House).
But in recent decades, there have been a few intolerant, vicious hate mongers masquerading as Christians that decided to define Christianity so narrowly, they edged everyone else out as a heathen. The irony is that we win the so-called morality debate every time. We are the ones fighting for the sick (45 million who have no health care), for honesty in our public officials, for peace and diplomacy, and help for our most poor and vulnerable citizens--hurt by the very policies implemented by these so-called “moral leaders” who only fatten the wallets of the wealthy at their expense.
Fight back: It is time Democrats take back the language of passion and moral conviction. We need to get back to our roots and talk about our values and what we fight for. Finally, we also need to get over discussing our faith. There is a perception that talking about our faith will appear intolerant to those who don’t share our faith, or those with none. Well, get over it—it doesn’t. The reality is that here in the deep south we have a long cultural tradition of people expecting public officials to acknowledge their faith. (Not to say New England public officials aren’t deeply religious, but they don’t talk about it as openly—see George Sr. or Kerry).
This is a good thing! If your moral foundations stem from your faith, why not share it with our fellow Floridians! The book “How the Republicans Stole Christmas” gives three good rules:
- Let one’s faith guide and inspire political decisions.
- Religion and politics must still remain two separate realms.
- Politics cannot be used to force religion on anybody.
So speak out, you have the high ground. The book puts it bluntly: “Whose professed values are more in line with Scripture (not to mention the Constitution)?” The other party wants this fight, but this is a fight we will always win!
PATRIOTISM: I can’t think of anything more un-American than allowing constitutional freedoms to erode because of blind faith in bad leadership. I can’t imagine in 2006 the argument that we have to be so scared of something (used to be communism, now terrorism, etc.) that we have to give up our right to privacy and the fourth amendment to be safe. I can’t believe that in 2006 the Senate was actually debating on whether or not to torture people. I can’t believe that we are told that expressing our right to criticize bad leadership means we are being unpatriotic.
What kind of leadership asks its people to give up our freedoms and values that make us American? What could be more unpatriotic?
Then there is the issue of our veterans. I proudly served in the Air Force (security forces) and it bothers me dearly when certain politicians use us in speeches to help their campaigns, only to turn their back on us. I could write pages on the billions of dollars the republicans cut for funding in veterans programs during the entire time of this war, (just google “veterans benefits cuts” and be prepared). Or I could talk about the Pentagon study last January that found that at least 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to their upper body could have survived if they had extra body armor the Pentagon didn’t bother to get. (But don’t buy the armor yourself, lest your family not get any of the death benefits).
Or finally, I could talk about the disgusting tactic of tearing down the reputations of the fighting men and women by those who never even bothered to serve. (McCain, Cleland, Kerry, Murtha, etc.). No one, republican or democrat, should ever tolerate smearing a veteran’s service because of their political views. It must be demoralizing for a soldier serving right now to have to wonder if his or her service will be trashed in the future if they have political ambition. Fortunately, this tactic has already been backfiring. It is no coincidence that the overwhelming majority of Iraq war veterans running this November are Democrats.
- Challenge conservative claims that they are the sole voice of patriotism. We have more than enough ammunition to back this up. But it is not enough to point out what the current leadership is not doing, we have to say what will do. We have a plan for winning Iraq and the war on terror Speak out!
- Although it helps that we fight for those in uniform for health care, education, the tools they need, and benefits they deserve, it is important to remember that veterans are not just another special-interest group. Remember to honor them in every speech and in every dialogue. More importantly, call on young people to join the service, and if they can’t, then at least an organization committed to helping our troops. In fact, consider volunteering yourself.
This is about winning back hearts and minds from the deep red infiltration. I am talking about the rural and suburban poor and the many veterans right here in Seminole county who keep getting hurt by ridiculous and callous right-wing policies but vote for them anyway because they are being told by misguided forces it is the right thing to do.
It isn’t, and its time to bring them back home.