I make no apologies for it - I am a Democrat. I occasionally listen to Franklin Roosevelt speeches. I was inspired by President Kennedy as a junior high school student. In college, I felt the pain while reading of President Woodrow Wilson's struggles to form the League of Nations. In fact, my grandfather, a great old Southern lawyer and Shriner, attended the convention that nominated Wilson and somewhere in my mountain of junk, I have the platform and booklet from that convention.
I say all of this so when I make suggestions to strengthen the party you will know I am saying them sincerely and in the spirit of making things better.
My view is that you don't need to recraft the party to win national elections. Instead, you have to do two things. You have to nominate a candidate who is warm and fuzzy. Like it or not, we want to not only agree with that candidate on many issues, but we want to feel comfortable and warm. I saw a bumper sticker (obviously by a Republican) a few years ago after Richard Nixon's death and while Al Gore was running and it said: "Vote For Nixon. He's not as stiff as Gore."
After the worst candidate in modern history, you would think the party would have nominated another fuzzy warm candidate and yet they didn't. They nominated John Kerry who was sooooo boring and stiff. He tried, but couldn't make anyone love him.
I know that as a party, you have no control over the nominee. The process is designed to weed out the boring and not cozy candidates doesn't always work, obviously.
So the party has to admit that in a television world you need a feel-good candidate.
But more importantly, the second thing that the Democrats have to do is to stop letting their opponents define them. They have to do a better job of explaining themselves.
The Republicans have succeeded in convincing the American people that the Democrats are all pro-abortion, anti-business, anti-religion and anti-patriotic.
None of these are true, but people act on their perception rather than on the fact.
I am a pro-choice, anti-abortion Democrat. That sounds contradictory and a giant cop-out. But it is not. I think that abortions are the most heinous, awful, soul-wrenching, horrible procedures ever invented by man. I am fundamentalist in believing that life is sacred and begins at conception. But having said that, I do not believe that the government has any decision in procreation. It is just none of the government's business. It is a private decision by the woman in consultation with her doctor, her spouse or partner, her family and friends and her deity (if she is of the faith). It is the woman's choice. I hope that she makes the choice to have the child even if she plans to adopt it out. I suspect there are many Democrats like me. But to hear the opposition, we all delight in the ending of human life and are all pro-abortion.
I cherish the environment and yes, I believe the Big Guy gave it to us pristine and we should keep it that way. But I am a Democrat that believes that people working together can have business and expansion and still not spoil the environment. But to hear the opposition, we are all tree huggers who would rather live in a cave than to see one pine tree felled.
I am deeply religious and deeply resent being accused of being non-religious because I am a Democrat. The Democrats have not put forth the deeply religious Democrats. And I am also very patriotic. But patriotism doesn't mean blind obedience to any war or battle the president wants to get us involved in. It doesn't mean holding your tongue.
Yes, for a decade or two the Democrats were too slow in championing getting people off welfare, instead opting to defend welfare. I am a Democrat that believes if you are able you should work and not get a hand-out. That doesn't mean our nation isn't big enough that we can't give a hand-up.
So if we are going to win the next presidential election, we don't have to surrender our views. We just need to be better at expressing those views and knocking down the negatives that distort our views.
Bob Paslay is assistant managing editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .