Two Good Opinion Pieces

My friend Matt pointed out to me two opinion pieces in the New York Times, written by John Danforth and Bill Bradley

These are two former senators that I have always respected. They are smart and for the most part fairly centrist.

In his piece, Danforth states what everybody knows, that the Republican party has been taken over by the religious right.  He says:

As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal
deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of
gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way

In Bradley’s piece, he argues that the Democrats need a unifying strategy, vision, and mission. Bradley says:

A party based on charisma has no long-term impact. Think of our last
charismatic leader, Bill Clinton. He was president for eight years. He
was the first Democrat to be re-elected since Franklin Roosevelt. He
was smart, skilled and possessed great energy. But what happened? At
the end of his tenure in the most powerful office in the world, there
were fewer Democratic governors, fewer Democratic senators, members of
Congress and state legislators and a national party that was deep in
debt. The president did well. The party did not. Charisma didn’t
translate into structure.

If Democrats are serious about
preparing for the next election or the next election after that, some
influential Democrats will have to resist entrusting their dreams to
individual candidates and instead make a commitment to build a stable
pyramid from the base up. It will take at least a decade’s commitment,
and it won’t come cheap. But there really is no other choice.

I think the answer to Bradley’s challenge to the Democrats lies in the very concerns that Danforth is artuculating for his party.

I believe Democrats need to stand for fiscal conservatism because balanced budgets help everyone and red ink only helps the rich who are lending the federal government the money to pay the bills.

And I believe that Democrats need to stand for social pragmatism because the average american does care about morality and values, but they are also realistic and pragmatic about how these values ought to be legislated. As an example, I think most americans want abortion to be available to women who choose to have one but they also want abortions to be rare and only used as a last resort. I believe most americans support the use of birth control. I believe most americans feel that gays should be treated fairly in our society.  I believe most americans believe that stem cell research should be funded so that life saving drugs can be developed.

I think the Democrats need to become the party of the center as our country moves to the right.  They need to be the party of sensible policies, not religious fundamentalism.  That’s a winning strategy.