by Charles Lemos, Tue Apr 28, 2009 at 05:05:07 PM EDT
Throughout -- Throughout our history, when people have looked for new ways to solve their problems and to uphold the principles of this nation, many times they have turned to political parties. They have often turned to the Democratic Party. What is it? What is it about the Democratic Party that makes it the instrument the people use when they search for ways to shape their future? Well I believe the answer to that question lies in our concept of governing. Our concept of governing is derived from our view of people. It is a concept deeply rooted in a set of beliefs firmly etched in the national conscience of all of us.
Now what are these beliefs? First, we believe in equality for all and privileges for none. This is a belief -- This is a belief that each American, regardless of background, has equal standing in the public forum -- all of us. Because -- Because we believe this idea so firmly, we are an inclusive rather than an exclusive party. Let everybody come. -- Barbara Charline Jordan
In her keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in 1976, Barbara Jordan, I think, hit on what it means to be a member of the Democratic party. We are an inclusive party that believes in equality for all and privileges for none. Whether Senator Arlen Specter stands ready to embrace all the key tenets of the Democratic party remains to be seen, still this is a party of sometimes competing ideas and raucous squabbles but firmly premised on the singular belief that everyone has a seat at the table. I am not quite sure if I agree with our newest member of our party that there was a "Reagan Big Tent". If there was, it certainly didn't include me. And while I have scores galore with the Democratic party, I have always felt accepted by the party's leaders and its membership.
Even if I sometimes rather vociferously complain that the Democratic party has strayed from its working class roots, there is little doubt that the Republican party has for a generation been the party of intolerance if not hate and a party that aims to serve the narrow class interests of a privilege few. I am struck today by the response of Grover Norquist's Club for Growth that is increasingly becoming the vehicle of extinction that will drive the GOP over the cliff into complete and utter political irrelevancy.
Arlen Specter argued today in his defection announcement that the GOP has strayed too far to the right since the days of the "Reagan Big Tent." But if there was anyone who understood the importance of standing up for principle, it was Ronald Reagan who declared in 1976:
"A political party cannot be all things to all people. It cannot compromise its fundamental beliefs for political expediency, or simply to swell its numbers. It is not a social club or fraternity engaged in intramural contests to accumulate trophies on the mantel over the fireplace...No one can quarrel with the idea that a political party hopes it can attract a wide following, but does it do this by forsaking its basic beliefs? By blurring its own image so as to be indistinguishable from the opposition party?"
Some commentators suffer from "Battered Republican Syndrome" -- they cling to liberals like Specter hoping some day the betrayals will stop. Get over it. If the Republicans are going to prosper as a political party, they must offer a consistent conservative alternative.