Friday, April 28, 2006

Choose your poison

If Democrats expect to take back the country, they need to show voters that they can lead. By leading.

Leadership is about what you are going to do today.

Leaders aren’t just dreamers who offer perfect, but unrealistic solutions to problems, solutions available sometime in a distant future. Elections aren’t about what you propose for five years from now or ten. We could all be dead by then. You won’t be in office by then.

Leaders are people who can tell voters what they are going to do for them when they get into office in January.

Democrats have a reputation (not totally undeserved) among many voters as being dreamers, but not problem solvers. The problem Democrats have is, a) they want to take stands on issues that are sure to win public approval, and b) they want to choose among perfect solutions, not the solutions available come January.

Leadership isn’t just about being visionary and high-minded. It’s about being courageous enough to make choices, even among bad ones.

Take the energy crisis, just one example. Ask a group of Democrats (including progressives) what they propose to do about the energy crisis and you get a discussion of the merits of various options, and a litany of what they don’t want.

Fossil fuels contribute to global warming.
We don’t want more global warming.

Burning oil and gas means more drilling by oil companies.
We don’t want more drilling.

Coal is dirty and means more mining.
We don’t want more mining. We don’t want dirty air.

Hydro power means more dams.
We don’t want more dams.

Nuclear means radioactive waste.
We don’t want more radioactive waste.

Well, what DO you want? exasperated voters ask.

How about promoting clean, renewable energy? Like solar.

But today solar isn’t commercially viable for large-scale use and not practical or affordable for small-scale use.

Or wind power?

Wind energy is commercially viable, but geographically limited and not a solution where I live.

Or hydrogen fuel cells?

Not commercially viable.

Well it might be (someday), they’ll tell you, if we fund more research and promote it with tax incentives …

Yes, all those alternatives are good and worth pursuing, but what about the meantime? Gas is over $3/gal now. What solutions do you offer me today? How are you going to improve my life next year if I vote you into office this November?
"Well, it's a complex problem and it's going to take a comprehensive solution involving a raft of integrated technologies ranging from ..."
This is where Democrats fall flat.

Do something NOW. CHOOSE YOUR POISON. Literally. Don’t like your choices? Want to wait until that special technology magically appears that will make all your dreams come true? Folks, that’s the Bush plan. That’s what we have now. Why should they vote for you?

Choose your poison. Make a choice. Even a bad one. Show the voters you know how. That's leadership.

Democrats' approach to election campaigns are another example of choosing doing nothing rather than doing your best with what you have.

The problem with Democrats, a friend told me, is they need better candidates. (But she didn't offer any.)

I’d volunteer if I thought he/she had any chance of winning.

I’d volunteer if I liked their stance on
(insert your pet cause here, as Kos might say).

Why don’t voters see Democrats as strong leaders? That’s why.

And that's why we are going to be working hard on it. Watch this space.

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