New and Improved: Democrat™

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Former DNC press secretary Terry Michael's plan for re-energizing the Democratic "brand" sounds vaguely familiar:

Jefferson can be an inspiration to our candidates, who need a better way to talk about religion and politics. Instead of mumbling about restoring faith to public life, Democrats can find the courage to say what we believe: We protect religious liberty by keeping God out of government. Our Founders knew that; there is not a single reference to God in the Constitution.

We need a new story. Here's rough cut: "Government: Assure liberty by staying as far away as possible from our bank accounts, our bedrooms and our bodies. Spread pluralistic democracy and free markets by example, not by force. Restore the moral authority of the mid-20th century civil rights movement, by fashioning public policy around individuals, not tribal identity groups."

Presumably because he understands this wouldn't fly with the target audience, Michael manages to scrupulously avoid mentioning that this sounds a hell of a lot like a, well, libertarian platform, but hey, whatever. If Dems are finally desperate enough to take a shot at trying to be the pro-freedom party, more power to 'em. Incidentally guys, as long as we're rebranding, have you consided maybe a better mascot than an ass? You could probably lease rights to Pikachu or something.

NEXT: 178 Candles

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  1. Democrats as libertarians? What? Someone check the thermostat in hell, it looks like it’s getting a tad chilly.

    Now the question is, will Democrats themselves go for it?

  2. When a Democrat says he’s going to “stay as far away as possible from our bank accounts,” all that means is that when they raise taxes, they’ll say that nothing else was possible.

  3. Rather than Pikachu, how about Hello Kitty? They put her on anything.

  4. I seem to remember Republicans once sang this Siren song, and our boats were dashed on the rocks election after election after election. Now another island has set out the singers. I think I’ll plug my ears until I see some Ds get behind legislation that actually reduces the scope of government.

    Words mean nothing. Let’s see some action.

  5. Now the question is, will Democrats themselves go for it?

    I’m a Democrat and I’ll certainly go for it!

  6. Even if it *is* just words, it’s pretty significant.

    And Pikachu skews a bit young. I’d suggest Flat Eric

  7. There is a reference to God in the Constitution, which is fodder for the world’s geekiest Constitution bet. Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the
    Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth.

  8. calling the usage of the predominant calendar system a reference to god is just the kind of argument one would expect from someone desperate to prove the founding fathers meant to establish a Christian theocratic government

  9. Stop looking at my ass.

  10. As I read this: “We protect religious liberty by keeping God out of government. Our Founders knew that; there is not a single reference to God in the Constitution” all I could think of is this. Nice try, but I’m not buying “liberty” as a Democratic principle.

  11. Libertarianism is the opium of the minority party.

  12. If the Dems are serious, they should use Big Gay SpongeBob as the new mascot, just ’cause.

  13. If the Dems are serious, they should use Big Gay SpongeBob as the new mascot, just ’cause.

    Unfortunately, a talking sponge is all too appropriate a mascot for the Democratic party. They’ve already elected quite a few of them to office.

    Well, if the Dems ever make good on this Jeffersonian platform, I’d be more than happy to vote for them.

    I’m just not holding my breath.

  14. Libertarianism is the opium of the minority party.

    Add federalism to the list! The party with zero control over the central gov’t always wants a weaker central gov’t.

    If the Dems were to actually follow through on this I’d be happy to vote for them. As it is, I consider them at best a lesser evil that might bring about gridlock.

    I predict that any libertarian rhetoric from the Dems will be realized to the same extent that the GOP has realized its libertarian rhetoric.

  15. How exactly does the libertarian noise square with the authoritarian voting record of every Dem in Congress. Hell, they even vote pro-government on most civil liberties issues – the big civil liberties defender I can think of from recent Congresses is Bob Barr. I’m not denying that they may talk the talk, but it’s the polar opposite of the philosophy of the majority of Democratic primary voters so they will never walk the walk.

  16. There are so many centrist running around the chairs, just waiting for the music to stop.

    Some may vote Republican, but wince whenever the Neocons are at the podium.

    They understand the Democrats but don’t need government as babysitter.

    Lose the Ass;
    the Liberatarian party is holding your seat.

  17. That loud crash you just heard was Thomas Frank hitting the roof.

  18. It is kinda fun to tell conservatives my opinions no some social issues. They can’t fathom the possibility that you may consider some sort of behavior “wrong” or “immoral” but not advocate the use of government to limit such behavior. I’m pretty “agnostic” when it comes to homosexuality…I admit to holding some prejudices on the subject and reserve my right to freely associate (and disassociate) with whomever I wish…But I don’t think that the government should have any say in what consenting adults do on their own property. I also have some opinions on immigration that will infuriate any member of the Michael Savage wing of the Republican party…

    In a similar manner I can really piss off some leftists when I talk about economics. One time a very left-leaning co-worker looked as though he was going to hit me simply because I said something to the effect of: “I don’t really see what the big deal is with letting people keep most of their own money.” His response was: “But that’s laissez-faire!” The last word was spit out like it was something dirty. In his mind wealth can only be taken or redistributed and never created without harming others in some manner. If individuals have a lot of money then it is because it has been unfairly pilfered from others. Advocating “laissez-faire” policies to such an individual is like admitting that you think theft is a reasonable idea. I think that many in the Democratic party share these beliefs and I therefore conclude that Terry Michael’s plan would be impossible to implement without casting out a huge percentage of those individuals who will never grow beyond Marxist and Hobbesian dogma.

  19. Well…Here’s some links for groups that advocate libertarian policies within the two major parties:

    The Republican Liberty Caucus

    The Democratic Freedom Caucus

  20. I had always thought that the Democrats were supposed to be morality-right and government-wrong, while the Republicans were morality-wrong and government-right. So, Michael’s proposal doesn’t surprise me at all.

    Now that the Republicans have become morality-wrong and government-wrong, the closest thing you’ve got to an electable liberal (in the classic sense) party in the US is the Democratic Party.

    For the moment.

  21. MayDay,
    Me too on most of that. However what most of my conservative friends are not in disagreement with me in, to my surprise is the need to legalize drugs. This includes friends of mine who are cops. Some of them do balk at legalizing the harder drugs such as heroin and crack.

  22. “biologist”: “calling the usage of the predominant calendar system a reference to god is just the kind of argument one would expect from someone desperate to prove the founding fathers meant to establish a Christian theocratic government.”

    Great! When do they show up?

    (That knee hit you in the chin? I hope not, that would hurt)

  23. We shouldn’t have long to wait, to see whether this swings a single Democratic vote behind either the President’s plan to reform Social Security, or a better version of it.

    Or has Julian Sanchez redefined “Libertarianism in Action Today!” to mean keeping the current Social Security system – as the lesser of half-a-dozen evils – along with a whopping “one-time” tax increase to pay for it all?

  24. Rather than Pikachu, how about Hello Kitty? They put her on anything.

    Comment by: Franklin Harris at February 10, 2005 09:05 PM

    Like this?

  25. …I’m pretty “agnostic” when it comes to homosexuality…I admit to holding some prejudices on the subject and reserve my right to freely associate (and disassociate) with whomever I wish…

    Comment by: MayDay72 at February 11, 2005 01:54 AM

    I think the idea of sex with a man is disgusting.

    I don’t even know how women put up with it.

    (And I wish I could remember which comedian said that many, many years ago, so I could give him proper credit).

  26. Hey, the Republicans have decided to become the party of more government, less liberty, and imposed morality, so I guess anything is possible. Each party should offer an alternative to the other.

    There’s entirely too much “brand loyalty” and not enough thought in politics.

  27. How about swapping the donkey for a turkey driving a Corvette? That way they could get claim the Ben Franklin connection plus pick up some of that NASCAR redneck vote.

  28. If dems want to steal redneck vote, they should outlaw Honda and Toyota from NASCAR.

  29. Someone needs to bone up on his history:

    “We protect religious liberty by keeping God out of government.”

    In fact, Jefferson’s church/state letter warned of the dangers of government corrupting religion, as it did for the Church of England, not the other way around. Michael’s statement on its face speaks of religious intolerance, and is quite disturbing.

    As for the second paragraph, I’ll believe it when I see it in the DNC platform in 2008.

  30. I don’t even know how women put up with it>

    It’s easier if there’s a Hello Kitty vibrator involved.

  31. Hello Kitty aside, any cat would not be a good mascot for the Democratic Party. Cats are almost entirely self-interested, making them a better candidate for an LP mascot.

  32. Andrew said “We shouldn’t have long to wait, to see whether this swings a single Democratic vote behind either the President’s plan to reform Social Security, or a better version of it.”

    Why should it, The President’s plan is a huge boondoggle that increases the power and size of the Federal government immensely. It is a corpratist plan, which is what the Republican Party is today. The SS “reform” is basically the federal government buying a huge stake in the equity markets and at the same time generating huge fees for Wall Street paid for by the tax payers. You will not have title to your account. Corporatist economics, moralizing social policy and imperialist foreign policy. Why would a libertarian have any support for this platform.

  33. Andrew-

    Most of the rumblings that I’ve heard about the likely shape of the Social Security “reform” sound even worse than the current system. There would still be payroll taxes, there would still be government paying out benefits, and the “private” investments would be handled at least in part by gov’t. That sounds like an expansion of the state to benefit a constituency.

    A far more sensible solution, based on the status quo, would be to means test the benefits and beef up the tax incentives to invest in an IRA (possibly including payroll tax deductions). It’s certainly not perfect or acceptable to a libertarian purist, but it would be a way to divert more money to private hands (via IRA’s) while decreasing the amount spent by the gov’t and avoiding the creation of a new bureaucracy.

    Does that make me unrealistic or overly purist?

  34. Thoreau

    Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Bush has declared the diversion of payroll taxes into privately held accounts like IRAs off limits–it seems to me he’s excited about the possibility of the government holding votes in shareholder meetings.

  35. Hank-

    No doubt some of the Bush-bots will be able to explain to us that in spite of all of this the Bush plan for Social Security is still superior to the status quo.

  36. “Someone needs to bone up on his history:

    “We protect religious liberty by keeping God out of government.”

    In fact, Jefferson’s church/state letter warned of the dangers of government corrupting religion, as it did for the Church of England, not the other way around. Michael’s statement on its face speaks of religious intolerance, and is quite disturbing”

    Futhermore, the phrase “separation of church and state” that has been lifted from Jefferson’s writings and put forth in the 20th century as a “Constitutional principle” actually appears nowhere in the Constitution. Jefferson did not write the Constitution, it was principally written by James Madison.

    At the time the Bill of Rights was ratified, some of the states had official state regligions and continued to have them up until the 1820’s or so.

  37. as a quick aside, anyone have the full text of the quote on the jefferson memorial? it’s interesting.

  38. On party mascots: Actually, back when the Democrats were a less secular party than today, one southern Democrat made effective use of his party’s symbol:

    “An elephant is a huge animal that goes stomping through the jungle, scaring all the other animals. But the donkey is the same beast our Blessed Saviour rode into Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago.”

    Of course there is no need for either party to retain the mascots Thomas Nast gave them. Why not revive the raccoon, the old symbol of the Whig Party? http://groups-beta.google.com/group/soc.history.what-if/msg/50a50158186266de I doubt that there are any Whigs left to complain about trademark infringement…

  39. I doubt that there are any Whigs left to complain about trademark infringement…

    Given the longevity of government agencies, I have no doubt that the Whig Caucus still has office space and a staff on Capitol Hill ;->

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