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November 20, 2006

Re: Watershed

[Submitted re: Watershed, 11/20/2006 in the Nation]

In “Watershed”, William Greider gives a great breakdown of the situation, opportunities and challenges ahead for Democrats, who were given a major political opening in the mid-terms.  But he reinforced that famous false choice of Democrats which cripples them when he wrote, “'message' should take a back seat to 'substance'.”

It isn't an either-or choice; Democrats must do both.  There's no point to winning if there isn't substance, but Democrats have not articulated their case well for years and years and it has hampered them badly.

Democrats need not only to have substantive policies that address the central concerns of American lives, but also must make their case for those better.  Democrats need to express a more shared, simple language that expresses our values and principles and draws contrasts with Republicanism ... taxes are civic investments, fair-market capitalism not free-market fundamentalism, responsible government not bigger or smaller government, open democracy not one-party rule, etc.

I would have expected more appreciation of the value of words from an author who uses them so well himself.  After all, the ringing words that open both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution still echo loudly exactly because they made their case so eloquently, and were not just, respectively, a litany of complaints and a set of organizing principles.

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