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Dear Governor Granholm,
Although I live in Chicago now, I was born and raised in Pontiac and still have family in Waterford, Pontiac, Troy, and Saginaw. Michigan is still in many ways my home, and I've been so proud to see you, another Democratic woman from Michigan, rise to such a position of state and national prominence.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed to read that, in your opinion, the new leader of the Democratic National Committee should be a red-state centrist who can "speak the language of values." I think this is entirely the wrong way to go, and I think most voters will see this appeal as nothing more than pandering for votes. I think this move toward the center-right makes us Democrats look like we don't have any strong beliefs, like our members will do or say anything to get elected. But what is the point of acquiring power if we don't have a strong vision for using it?
There has been so much public hand-wringing in the Party about one dodgy Ohio exit poll that said some people were most concerned about "moral values" in this year's election. Never mind that those "moral values" were hardly defined, or that the percentage of people voting on values has declined considerably since the 1996 election.
We are never going to out-Jesus the right wing in this country. It is pointless, counterproductive, and insulting to traditional Democratic principles to even try: The more this Party moves to the right, the more elections we lose. This creeping centrism has cost us the White House, both Houses of Congress, most of the nation's governorships, and plenty of state legislatures in the last 10 years.
I believe people don't want Democrats to be pseudo-Republicans; they want Democrats to be Democrats, to return to the principles and policies that brought this country the New Deal and the Great Society -- social justice, education, health care, a belief in the common good -- and to believe in something other than scrambling for votes.
And my belief is not faith-based; I have proof: In my new home state of Illinois, a proud, progressive Democrat ran a Senate campaign of hope through traditional Democratic policies like these, and he defeated the Republican "moral values" candidate in a landslide. He didn't pander to religious extremists or bigots or change his positions to get more votes. He reached out honestly to conservative, rural districts and liberal cities, and he won 70% of the vote. And it's not just because Alan Keyes is weird -- Barack Obama swept the primary and was leading his original opponent, Jack Ryan, by 20 points even before Ryan's personal life destroyed his campaign.
The Democratic Party needs more people like Barack Obama at every level, including the DNC. We don't need Democrats who speak about their "souls." We need Democrats who speak with their hearts, who use their brains, and who have the spine to stand up for Democratic positions without compromise.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.
Replies: 1 Confession
Jenny G. has been a good governor so far, cleaning up the serious mess that facist Engler left behind. I missed the comment that you are criticizing but I wholly agree. Pandering is bad. People think you have to be a centrist to build consensus, but you don't. You just have to be a good leader. Granholm is a good leader but she still needs to learn this lesson, apparently, so good on ya for schoolin' her.
Doug (From MICHIGAN) @ 12/09/2004 08:49 AM CST