Back when I was contributing to that OTHER SITE, I wrote this piece about what the Democratic message in 2004 might be…or should be. I looked back to 1992 to the Clinton-Gore campaign, then brought the reader back to 2003 and looked at the messages being formed by the leading candidates at the time (John Kerry hadn’t yet declared.) James Carville was discussing the type of candidate that was needed to renew the concept of “generational responsiblity,” which he called the “big issue” for Democrats in 2004. And who seemed to articulate this “big issue” most clearly during the primary season? Former Senator and Ambassador Carol Mosely Braun.
Braun, who was from Chicago, Illinois and who became the first black woman elected to the Senate, was fairly controversial (with campaign funds coming under scrutiny and a trip to NIgeria where she met with the dictator in charge). She was defeated in her 1998 re-election bid but in 2003-2004 when she ran for President, her message about “generational promise” was the most clearly articulated. (She dropped out of the race 4 days before the Iowa caucuses and supported Howard Dean.)
What’s interesting is that Barack Obama was involved in getting her elected to the Senate through his work with Project Vote. At the time he was popular for his “integrity” and “honesty” and was perceived as “not at all comfortable with the political game of getting and staying elected, of raising money in backroom deals and manipulating an electable image” Wow, have times changed! (See “HINDSIGHT” below for more on Braun and also a link to a 1995 article on the activities of Barack Obama at that time.)
So, give this blast from the past a read and think about the shift in the Democratic message since 1992. The idea of passing on a better future for the next generation is one that I’m not seeing much of this time around. Will Obama’s flirtation with some rather conservative ideas really serve the next generations well?? At the same time, we’ve also seen a sharp split being created by the Obama campaign–old vs. young. And what the older generation has done is getting short shrift. A break is being created, not a true bridging of the generations. A whole lot of older folks have been thrown under the bus.
Oh, but in his acceptance speech, Obama does give us a line, as vague as ever…
Four years ago, I stood before you and told you my story — of the brief union between a young man from Kenya and a young woman from Kansas who weren’t well-off or well-known, but shared a belief that in America, their son could achieve whatever he put his mind to.
It is that promise that has always set this country apart — that through hard work and sacrifice, each of us can pursue our individual dreams but still come together as one American family, to ensure that the next generation can pursue their dreams as well.
Does it meet James Carville’s thoughts on the type of candidate Democrats need? It seems incomplete to me…pursuing dreams is one thing, but having a better lfe than the previous generation is another. See below and and judge for yourself…
Filed under: Current Politics | Tagged: Al Gore, Ann Richards, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Carol Mosely Braun, generational responsibility, George H. W. Bush, Goerge W. Bush, Howard Dean, James Carville, Joan Walsh, John Edwards, John Kerry, Ronald Reagan | Leave a Comment »