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Restore the Wetlands. Reinforce the Levees.

A Cure for “The Silence of the Dems”


What kind of future can there be for a political party that defers all its speaking roles to a conflict-averse President who does not want to be too closely identified with his party? And what future for that party’s legacy of “social contract” programs—and the people who need them?


“For too long, Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives have acted as if government programs being funded by tax dollars are either settled issues (in the case of SS, Medicare, etc) or can speak for their value themselves (NEA, Amtrak, Post Office, etc). None of those things are true.

“All the Democratic, Liberal, and Progressive analysts are sitting around scratching their heads, wondering why Perry is actually gaining support by saying things like [‘Social Security is a Ponzi scheme’].” —Pat Armstrong, aka Cousin Pat from Georgia

[ Note: The following was posted late on 9/10 as “Rx for ‘The Silence of the Dems’ ” but is being re-posted for better visibility now that 9/11’s all-eclipsing 10th anniversary has passed. ]


A Fix for the Deficit That Worries Us Most

Over the weekend, our friend Cousin Pat from Georgia (below), the Station Manager of Hurricane Radio, wrote some compelling comments in reply to “Pass This Jobs Bill” that should be taken to heart by as many readers as possible—particularly those of the liberal, progressive, Democratic stripe. Particularly the donkeys in the Democratic party machinery, who, like their G.O.P. counterparts, never listen to anyone under them. And so we’re bringing the discussion up from the basement of that post’s comments section to the front page here, which as you already know ranks somewhere between the New York Times and The Onion in influence on the thinkers and powers that be. Seriously, though, we wish the lion-hearted geniuses at the Democratic National Committee and on the committee to re-elect the president would tune in 24/7 to Hurricane Radio.

Pat, who describes himself as “a pragmatic, just-left-of-true-center Democratic voter,” debuted at Levees Not War last October when we posted a lengthy excerptfrom his hot, lucid rant titled “Why the GOP Is Going to Win in November.” Unfortunately, he was absolutely correct. Sadly, every word still rings true. See for yourself.

In reply to our account of President Obama’s “assertive, even imperative” address to the joint session of Congress Thursday night, Pat wrote:

I was wondering who that guy was giving the speech. 

What makes me angry is that, had this type of language been used in the first go-round, and these types of policies been more highlighted in the first stimulus, he may have gotten more with less drain on his political capital. 

Even with this new language and policy, he’s facing an uphill battle because the last stimulus was a modest policy win coupled with an absolute political disaster. 

But you know what they say about the best time to plant a tree.

We have complained before about “the Silence of the Dems” and said so again toward the end of “Pass This”: “The Democratic party has a serious communications deficit and had better start training its members in sharp, focused, disciplined public speaking.”

In reply to Pat we wrote:

[Obama] and his party need to emphasize repeatedly as one of their Top 3 Messages that government / public agencies serve many vital, necessary functions (safety inspections, air traffic safety, postal service, Social Security & Medicare, education, transportation, etc.), and in these essential ways “your tax dollars” are not being misspent. But many of us citizens all across the spectrum dislike gov’t in part because we feel we’re not getting much return on the taxes we pay—so much of the application of tax $ goes overseas. And because one party in particular constantly rails against the very idea of government. This may not have been your point, exactly, but do you agree? ¶ On another point, when is the best time to plant a tree?

A Pragmatic Prescription for Camera-Shy, Tongue-Tied Democrats

Here is where Cousin Pat from Georgia elaborated and elucidated with some of the points quoted at the very top. Democrats, progressives, liberals—those who believe in a round earth, gravity, and the social contract and golden rule—listen and take in what he says. Think about it. Act on it.

Taxpayers want a “return on their investment,” as they should. Not only do taxpayers need to see their tax dollars being spent wisely, they need to see the value in the programs and results.

For too long, Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives have acted as if government programs being funded by tax dollars are either settled issues (in the case of SS, Medicare, etc.) or can speak for their value themselves (NEA, Amtrak, Post Office, etc.). None of those things are true, and the right wing has spent two generations kneecapping the credibility of all these programs as part of the greater “government is the problem” narrative.

For example, Rick Perry has called Social Security a Ponzi scheme, has plans to begin dismantling that program, and that thought process has so much support he’s become the Republican front runner (and will be the nominee) for President. Meanwhile, all the Democratic, Liberal, and Progressive analysts are sitting around scratching their heads, wondering why Perry is actually gaining support by saying things like that.

That’s because they’ve always taken SS for granted, and haven’t felt the need (or had the ability) to defend the greater narrative of American historical progress that brought us the New Deal, the Marshall Plan, and the Civil Rights Act.

As for the tree analogy, “The best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is right now.” Which pretty much sums up the WHOLE Democratic, Liberal, and Progressive political narrative in an effective way.

This comment echoes points Pat made in “Why the GOP Is Going to Win in November,” and everyone who wants the remnants from the New Deal and JFK–LBJ’s Great Society—for that matter, any positive legislation since Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson—had better get this through their heads and make the Donkeys in Washington listen:

You have to learn that there are political consequences to taking votes for granted. Don’t worry, this has been a problem with Democrats for as long as I can remember. 

You have to learn that there are political consequences to letting the other side control the debate, especially when their talking points have more to do with the Land of Make Believe and Playing Revolution than acknowledging reality. It only works when there are two competing narratives. Lunacy is only exposed when placed next to reality. You won this public debate resoundingly in 2008, so I know you know how. [LNW’s emphasis]


You, gentle readers, are invited to comment on this post, speak up, share ideas about what Democrats, progressives, liberals, socialists—those who support the social contract and the golden rule—should do to counter the strong winds of falsehood and destructiveness about the good that government and public employees do (can do), and the Democratic party’s predisposition to passivity and inertia as its great legacy is being shredded by radicals. Really, we want to hear what you think. Should we start a new party? A new country-within-a-country?

We recall seeing a billboard in Berkeley sponsored by the California Dental Association: Go Ahead, Ignore Your Teeth—They’ll Go Away.

Think about that in relation to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the United States Postal Service, etc. Nothing is guaranteed except change. And what has the trend been lately? Ready to help buck the trend?


See James Carville’s advice: What Should the White House Do? Panic! “The course we are on is not working. The hour is late, and the need is great. Fire. Indict. Fight.” Fire the political team. Indict Wall Street law-breakers. Make a case like a Democrat. Hold fast to an explanation. Rinse. Repeat.

See also

Talkin’ to You, Barack (and You, America)

A Failure to Communicate—Not a Failure to Govern

The Silence of the Dems

In Defense of Liberalism and Good Government

Does Believing in Social Contract Make Us Socialists? Then So Be It.”


In Defense of Liberalism and Good Government

From Joe Conason’s bestselling book Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth

“. . . remember that America in the twentieth century was built on liberal policy, from the Progressive Era through the New Deal, the Fair Deal, the GI Bill, and the Great Society. The modern economy—a private enterprise system that relies on government safeguards against depression and extreme poverty—is the legacy of liberal leadership, from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson to Franklin D. Rooseveltand Lyndon B. Johnson. . . . Conservatism in power always threatens to undo that national progress . . .

“If your workplace is safe; if your children go to school rather than being forced into labor; if you are paid a living wage, including overtime; if you enjoy a forty-hour week and you are allowed to join a union to protect your rights—you can thank liberals. If your food is not poisoned and your water is drinkable—you can thank liberals. If your parents are eligible forMedicare and Social Security, so they can grow old in dignity without bankrupting your family—you can thank liberals. . . . If people of all races can share the same public facilities; if everyone has the right to vote; if couples fall in love and marry regardless of race; if we have finally begun to transcend a segregated society—you can thank liberals. Progressive innovations like those and so many others were achieved by long, difficult struggles against entrenched power. What defined conservatism, and conservatives, was their opposition to every one of those advances. The country we know and love today was built by those victories for liberalism—with the support of the American people.” (Big Lies, pp. 4–5)


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