changing the subject

Post submitted by AsaHopkins (On April 20, 2004 at 3:27 pm):

I had the opportunity to hear Congressman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) speak at Caltech on Thursday, the 15th. In addition to speaking about the Patriot Act (his supposed topic for the evening), he also challenged those us us in the room, and Progressives nationwide, to force issues into the national conversation. Instead of belaboring election year wedge issues, he says, we need to be addressing the shrinking (and struggling) middle class, the effective ownership of Washington by corporate lobbyists, the resulting downward sirpal of participation in politics by the poor and middle classes, and the fact that the media addresses preferentially those topics acceptable to its corporate masters.

How can we address these concerns in our statement of priciples? Should we? Is a vibrant middle class important to us as a matter of principle? How do we express that? Are the influence of lobbyists and the media best addressed here, or in the Democratic Process discussion?

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looking out for the little guy

Post submitted by AsaHopkins (On March 10, 2004 at 4:37 pm):

I want to return to the subject of “looking out for the little guy”. Earlier we came close to consensus on adding “- Provide the tools neccesary to ensure all Americans have a quality standard of living regardless of physical or economic capacity” to the statement of consensus, but there was uncertainty regarding the clause “regardless of physical or economic capacity”, while folks tended to like “provide the tools”. Bearing in mind the general desire here to create a statement with some “backbone”, can we think of a nice strong way to address “helping the least among us”?

Some language to think about, courtesy of Stan Greenberg in today’s NY Times, referring to Kennedy: “He believed that one task of government was to ensure that all shared in America’s bounty. Yet he also reminded Americans that they had an obligation to serve their country and their community.” Should we talk about it being a government responsibility to ensure a quality standard of living/”sharing in the bounty”? Is it a government responsibility to ensure the results, or only to provide the tools that make the results possible?

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statement of conviction?

Post submitted by AsaHopkins (On February 19, 2004 at 5:05 pm):

I am inspired today by Governor Dean, and by my conversations with Jesse, to wonder about the strength of our “state of consensus” in its present form.

On Monday, Dean said “You know what they learned from us? They learned that when you stand up for what you believe in, without worrying about the polls, that is a much more powerful message than a focus group-given message.”

Jesse wondered whether we are creating a “consensus statement” that no-one will object to, or whether we should in fact be creating a “statement of conviction” — a strong and precise statement that sharply defines who we are as 2020 Democrats. (A historical example of a “conviction vision” is the Sharon Statement, which served as a formative document for the modern conservative movement, but which was by no means the party consensus at the time it was conceived.)

So, is our present statement too “mealymouthed”? Are we trying to include such a broad range of opinion that we don’t have identity? Or is the breadth of the vision the source of its strength? What tone would you choose for your statement of principles?

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Vision = Electoral success?

Post submitted by AsaHopkins (On February 13, 2004 at 7:14 pm):

The three remaining serious contenders for the Democratic nomination are the three who submitted visions to 2020 Democrats. Coincidence? I’ll let you decide….

But seriously, folks. It appears that having a compelling vision for the country is attractive to voters. I’ve pulled some quotes from the candidates’ visions that I think relate to core principles. Can we find consensus by finding the common ground between the candidates?

“So too must we restore the deepest belief of our people that each generation has a responsibility to pass to our children a nation and a world that is better and stronger than the one that was passed to us.”

“They want their leaders to honor their values, have the courage of their convictions, keep their country safe and strong, and give them a chance to make the most of their future. They want to live in an America that works for all of us, both now and in the future. “

“We must regain the proud mantle of progressivism-the powerful claim to dynamism, proof that we understand the future potential of our country and are determined to marshal our resources to help our fellow citizens achieve and even exceed that potential.”

“I believe in an America where work is rewarded and opportunity is equal.”

“An America where it is not enough to proclaim the words freedom, self-government, and democracy, but where it is a duty and a responsibility to participate together in common purpose with the sacrifice required of each of us to give those words meaning.”

“We are all in this together.”

“For America now, service is not just an option, but an obligation of citizenship.”

(see the extended entry for a full selection of interesting quotes.)

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the Democratic Response to the SOTU

Post submitted by AsaHopkins (On January 24, 2004 at 7:38 pm):

Som excerpts from the Democratic Response to the State of the Union, focused on the Democratic vision for the country, and core Democratic principles. What’s missing? What’s good?


Nancy Pelosi:

The state of our union is indeed strong, due to the spirit of the American people — the creativity, optimism, hard work and faith of everyday Americans. The State of the Union address should offer a vision that unites us as a people and priorities that move us toward the best America. … But even the most powerful nation in the history of the world must bring other nations to our side to meet common dangers. … As a nation we must show our greatness, not just our strength. America must be a light to the world, not just a missile. … Democrats are committed to strengthening the state of our union, to reach for a safer, more prosperous America. Together, let us make America work for all Americans. Let us restore our rightful role of leadership in the world, working with others for the freedom of man.

Tom Daschle:

Rather than a society that restricts its rewards to a privileged few, we need an opportunity society that allows all Americans to succeed. Our opportunity society has at its foundation good jobs, a solid education and quality health care that is affordable and available. We believe that we have to honor the promises we’ve made to the millions of families who worked hard, played by the rules and have earned a retirement of dignity. … America can’t afford to keep rewarding the accumulation of wealth over the dignity of work. … The federal government would set high standards for every student and hold schools responsible for results. In exchange, schools would receive the resources to meet the new standards. … And in our vision of an opportunity society, promises made to those who have worked a lifetime will be honored in retirement. … Only when every American who wants to work can, when every child goes to a good school and has the opportunity to go further, only when health care is available and affordable for every American, when a lifetime of work guarantees retirement with dignity, and when America is secure at home and our strength abroad is respected, not resented — only then will we have a union as strong as the American people.

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shared risk vs. personal responsibility

Post submitted by AsaHopkins (On January 11, 2004 at 8:24 pm):

Hi all,

Here’s an interesting article from the NY Times:

Call It the Family Risk Factor by Jacob Hacker.

While most of it deals with “safety net” issues in broad terms, I was struck by the last paragraph about the role of government:

“Our economy is in the throes of a great transformation — from an all-in-the-same-boat world of shared risk toward a go-it-alone world of personal responsibility. Protecting families from the greatest “hazards and vicissitudes of life” — in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s still relevant words — is necessary and possible, and it offers perhaps the best hope for reviving a constructive role for government, on bold new terms, in this new century.”

At the conference and on this board, we’ve often touched on the question of how much to emphasize “personal responsibility” and “opportunity” versus a “sharing the risk”, “we’re all in this together” kind of attitude. This same distinction shows up in the rhetorical differences between “New Democrats” and more liberal Democrats. Perhaps these can be tied together by recognizing that the economy, and the personal freedoms we cherish, are going to emphasize personal responsibility, but the government can still help us “share the risk.”



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New directions

Post submitted by AsaHopkins (On January 06, 2004 at 10:24 pm):

We’re going to execute a bit of a change in how this discussion is run, in order to create a more lively discussion. Basically, this main part of the page is going to host a more free-form discussion, with links to current news and commentary, anecdotes, jokes… whatever. Ari and I will scour the web, our conversations with friends, and our minds for interesting material related to Democratic principles, and post it here when we come across it. This should happen pretty frequently. If you find anything cool that we’ve missed, or want to talk about topics we’re somehow skipping, please post it in the comments. This is your discussion!

Every week or two, Ari and I will then comb through the discussions, which will hopefully have touched on a wide variety of topics. We’ll see if there is a developing consensus on a particular issue, or more generally try to relate the free-form discussion to the search for consensus Democratic principles. Until the site is rearranged to make this a little more clear, we will run this “higher order” discussion in the Threads section over to the right (where the State of Consensus is now). Thanks for your understanding as we switch this around.

Check back often — we’re going places!


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Rephrased Safetynet Statement

Post submitted by AriRabinHavt (On October 24, 2003 at 5:57 pm):

So it has been recommended we change the safetynet statement to the following for the state of consensus:

“- Provide the tools neccesary to ensure all Americans have a quality standard of living regardless of physical or ecnomic capcity.”

Do people feel this belongs in? What changes should be made if not? Or should this topic be left out entirely?

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Principles Question #2

Post submitted by AriRabinHavt (On October 10, 2003 at 5:03 pm):

During the conference we had a short conversation regarding a social safety net. In our initial post-conference principles statement we

included the statement that one of government’s responsibilities is to:

“- Provide an adequate social safety net for those that do not have the economic or physical capacity to provide for themselves”

It was decided that the group did not discuss this topic in enough depth at the conference to include this line in the initial “state of consensus”.

Should we discuss our nation’s social safety net in the 2020 Democrats statement of principles? If so, how?

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Welcome to the 2020 Democrats Principles Group

Post submitted by AriRabinHavt (On September 24, 2003 at 3:30 pm):

Welcome to the Principles discussion. The goal of the Principles group is to author a statement of principles for the 2020 Democrats. This will be accomplished by discussing various topics related to what it means to be a Democrat. Topics of discussion will be introduced by the policy guides, Ari and Asa. The eventual goal will be to reach a state of consensus for a statement of principles. Please feel free to make recommendations and post your comments and questions.

During the next several weeks, our primary goal is to begin the discussion group and have it run smoothly. In order to accomplish this it is important that participants stay focused on the topics discussed. During the first few weeks we will all be learning weeks what works and what doesn’t in an online conversation, so be please patient and have fun as we embark in this experiment in Democracy.

An initial state of consensus was reached during the initial 2020 conference held in the beginning of August. This consensus can be viewed on the bar on the right of the screen.

At the conference we engaged in a long conversation about freedom. Does the current state of consensus adequately define freedom? Are there freedoms we are missing?

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