Sunday, November 07, 2004 Article: Op-Ed Columnist: Time to Get Religion

Here is an interesting and insihtful article, that makes one think a bit. Whether or not one agrees, Kristof makes a very aticulate argument. I want to get people's views on this.

Op-Ed Columnist: Time to Get Religion

November 6, 2004

If Democrats want to know how to win again, they have a
model. It's the British Labor Party.

When I studied in England in the early 1980's, the British
Labor Party seemed as quaint and eccentric as Oxford
itself, where we wore gowns for exams and some dons
addressed the rare female student as "sir." Labor was
caught in its own echo chamber of militant unions and
anti-American activists, and it so repulsed voters that it
seemed it might wither away entirely.

Then Tony Blair and another M.P., Gordon Brown, dragged the
party away from socialism, unions, nuclear disarmament and
anti-Americanism. Together they created "New Labor," which
aimed for the center and aggressively courted Middle
Britain instead of trying to scare it. The result is that
since 1997, Mr. Blair and Labor have utterly dominated

The Democrats need a similar rebranding. But the risk is
that the party will blame others for its failures - or,
worse, blame the American people for their stupidity (as
London's Daily Mirror screamed in a Page 1 headline this
week: "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?").

As moderates from the heartland, like Tom Daschle, are
picked off by the Republicans, the party's image risks
being defined even more by bicoastal, tree-hugging,
gun-banning, French-speaking, Bordeau-sipping, Times-toting
liberals, whose solution is to veer left and galvanize the
base. But firing up the base means turning off swing
voters. Gov. Mike Johanns, a Nebraska Republican, told me
that each time Michael Moore spoke up for John Kerry, Mr.
Kerry's support in Nebraska took a dive.

Mobilizing the base would mean nominating Hillary Rodham
Clinton in 2008 and losing yet again. (Mrs. Clinton has
actually undertaken just the kind of makeover that I'm
talking about: in the Senate, she's been cooperative,
mellow and moderate, winning over upstate New Yorkers. She
could do the same in the heartland ... if she had 50

So Democrats need to give a more prominent voice to Middle
American, wheat-hugging, gun-shooting, Spanish-speaking,
beer-guzzling, Bible-toting centrists. (They can tote The
Times, too, in a plain brown wrapper.) For a nominee who
could lead the Democrats to victory, think of John Edwards,
Bill Richardson or Evan Bayh, or anyone who knows the
difference between straw and hay.

I wish that winning were just a matter of presentation. But
it's not. It involves compromising on principles. Bill
Clinton won his credibility in the heartland partly by
going home to Little Rock during the 1992 campaign to
preside over the execution of a mentally disabled convict
named Ricky Ray Rector.

There was a moral ambiguity about Mr. Clinton's clambering
to power over Mr. Rector's corpse. But unless Democrats
compromise, they'll be proud and true and losers.

So what do the Democrats need to do? Here are four

• Don't be afraid of religion. Offer government support for
faith-based programs to aid the homeless, prisoners and
AIDS victims. And argue theology with Republicans: there's
much more biblical ammunition to support liberals than

• Pick battles of substance, not symbolism. The battle over
Georgia's Confederate flag cost Roy Barnes his governorship
and perhaps Max Cleland his Senate seat, but didn't help
one working mother or jobless worker. It was a gift to

• Accept that today, gun control is a nonstarter. Instead
of trying to curb guns, try to reduce gun deaths through
better rules on licensing and storage, and on safety
devices like trigger locks.

• Hold your nose and work with President Bush as much as
you can because it's lethal to be portrayed as
obstructionists. Sure, block another Clarence Thomas, but
here's a rule of thumb: if an otherwise qualified Supreme
Court nominee would turn the clock back 10 years, approve;
back 25 years, vote no; back a half-century, filibuster.

"The first thing we have to do is shake the image of us as
the obstructionist party," notes Senator Ben Nelson of
Nebraska, who manages to thrive as a Democrat in the red
sea. He says Democrats must show a willingness to
compromise, to get things done, to defer to local
sensibilities. "We have to show the American people," he
says, "that Democrats aren't going to take away your guns,
aren't going to take away your flags."

Rethinking the Democratic Party will be wrenching. But just
ask Tony Blair - it's not as wrenching as sliding into

Link to the article (the article is here in full, Just click "The entire post". The link is just in case you want to check it out on site)

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