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Democrats Should Lead With Their Principles

January 25, 2003

Re "Democrats May Ditch NASCAR Strategy, Beg Soccer Moms for 2nd Chance," Washington Outlook, Jan. 20: I have been a registered Democrat since age 18. Now, at 42, I find myself revolted and amused by Democrats floundering around trying to find how to "get Bush." Did they ever consider dropping the vicious, partisan, attack-dog style of politics and just stating, clearly and quietly, what it is they stand for? I certainly don't know what they represent anymore. From FDR to Jimmy Carter, Democrats stood for enhanced social safety nets, equality and fair taxation. Since Bill Clinton, however, they seem to stand for ... well, whatever the weekly poll results tell them to stand for.

There's no heart there. They've become empty vessels whose only desire is to have power. Yes, Al Gore nearly pulled it off with his barn-burning populism, but there's the rub. He had not been a populist before. It seemed to be an act.

I don't always agree with Ted Kennedy, but I respect his consistency. I don't always agree with George W. Bush, but at least he's clear about who and what he is. Hanging with NASCAR drivers? What does that have to do with anything? Targeting so-called soccer moms isn't going to get it done, either. Just be a traditional Democrat, for heaven's sake. Bush, and Reagan before him, seemed to understand that Americans respond well to someone who has a few big core principles and holds fast to them. Post-Clinton Democrats have no clarity and until they do they will most likely be backbenchers.

Kris Gilbert Tufts

Las Vegas

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Neither political party seems to be getting sensitive issues correct: Republicans with their tax cut in the middle of a recession; Democrats with their less-than-moral centerpiece -- abortion. I think the American public may be rather leery of massive tax cuts that favor the seemingly rich. Likewise, the Democrats seem to be riding the abortion wagon, thinking that it might be the distinction that will win.

I think the public is a little suspicious of the abortion-above-all attitude, especially with the price that has been paid -- over 42 million dead fetuses, women with emotional regrets and the turning against morality. Pledging to Roe vs. Wade is like walking on a rotted wooden bridge over a very deep ravine. From the public standpoint, some maybe wish to partake, but I wonder if the masses would be so gullible. As for the gun-control issue, I wonder if 9/11 will be such a distant memory in 2004. If we can be directly bombed, can we be directly invaded? Maybe guns might be useful.

Robert Keefer

Rancho Palos Verdes

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