YDATL Blog NOTE: The opinions expressed by our individual bloggers are their own, and not necessarily those of Young Democrats of Atlanta.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Party down, not out – Democrats must fight on
Creative Loafing had it right – Georgia Democrats need more than a pep talk. 2004 proved that rhetoric isn't enough to win an election, and neither is the looming specter of unfathomable disaster. With decades of critical national policy at stake, Democrats were outplayed, outworked, and outfoxed by Republican scum all over the country, and now we're paying for it like a sucker at one of Ralph Reed's casinos. Now, some Georgia Democrats are whistling Dixie while Georgia burns, and unless that changes 2004 and 2002 will repeat themselves.
The first thing that must happen for us to win is for everyone who's still fighting the gubernatorial primary to stop. Certain Mark Taylor supporters need to stop making snide remarks about Cathy and her supporters at every opportunity, period. Mark himself has done a good job of sounding conciliatory when I have heard him speak, and the “We beat Cathy!” gloating straight up needs to stop. On the other hand, certain Cathy Cox supporters need to come on board with their votes and their money and volunteer time, and get over the real and perceived insults that are coming from overzealous Mark people. Giving Mark your vote but saying you won't help him win is like voting for "No Child Left Behind" but then giving it no money, dooming it to failure - i.e., it's hypocrisy. Cathy Cox herself needs to return from her self-imposed exile and rejoin this party if she wants to have a future in it. (For those of you who will no doubt point out that Greg Hecht has been just as invisible as Cathy, I direct your attention to the fact that Greg already ceased to have a future in this party several months ago.)
The second thing we Georgia Democrats need to do is take another look at our message. The way I see it, we have two camps of message right now. There is the Old Message camp, including Mark Taylor, Michael Thurmond, and a lot of other candidates, which is the usual “we want jobs and health care and education” message. Then the is the New Message camp, including Jim Martin and Steve Sinton, which builds the same platform but beginning from values. Remember that great ad Jim put out right after the despicable Greg Hecht mailers came out? It didn't say “Greg is wrong” or even just “I'm tough on crime” - it was “Such-and-such happened to me and because I love and value my daughter, I will be tough on crime”. Steve Sinton isn't just for stem cell research because of the abstract principle of the thing – he has personal experience to back that up and he's not afraid to talk about it. See the difference? Look at the Georgia candidates who are doing the best in their races, and ask yourself which approach is working better. All our issues are personal to us, and the more our candidates bring that into the message the better they will do, because being right is no more important than knowing why you're right.
The last need that I will draw attention to is for a sense of real urgency. Yes, we all talk about how important this election is, and how we have to win, etc., but we said the same things in 2004 without really grasping the magnitude of the stakes. Many of us, me included, didn't translate this supposed understanding of the gravity of the situation at hand into action. Don't you wish you had gone canvassing for Howard Dean or phone banked for John Kerry now, looking back? I do. After Sonny wins and the Democratic Party in Georgia gets clocked like George Foreman fighting Muhammad Ali, don't you think you'll regret not doing more for Mark Taylor? Don't just say this election is important, believe it. That belief is what we need most, because when you really understand the situation, you won't be able to sit idle while Special Sonny turns Georgia into the Idaho of the South. Get to it.