Let’s Have Two Parties

The other day, I watched an episode of The West Wing with this scene:

The scene dealt with avoiding the magic words in order to rightfully use soft money for “issue ads.” But I think Bruno’s point is a salient one for our current state of affairs. For those that don’t want to watch the video, here’s the quote:

Because I’m tired of working for candidates who make me think I should be embarrassed to believe what I believe, Sam! I’m tired of getting them elected! We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said, “‘Liberal’ means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense, and we’re gonna tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn’t have to go to work if they don’t want to!” And instead of saying, “Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-education, anti-choice, pro-gun, Leave It To Beaver trip back to the Fifties…!”, we cowered in the corner and said, “Please. Don’t. Hurt. Me.” No more. I really don’t care who’s right, who’s wrong. We’re both right. We’re both wrong. Let’s have two parties, huh? What do you say?

Now more than ever, I worry that the Democrats in this country will be afraid to stand up for what they believe in. Liberalism is a dirty word. I’ve been proud to be a liberal, and in this next administration, I still will be proud to be a liberal.

I’m not ashamed in my belief that the government can be a force for good. That we should look after the poor and the needy. That we should provide paid family leave. That we should provide universal healthcare. That we should guarantee access to contraception. That we should make public college free. That we should provide child care for those in need. That we should take care of our teachers. That we should focus on better public education for all of us. That we should make it easier to vote, not harder. That affirmative action is the least we can do given the level of oppression present even today. That affordable housing is necessary given the amount of gentrification. That our criminal justice system suffers from vast discrimination. That all people deserve equal treatment under the law. That we need to invest in our infrastructure. That we should protect workers from unfair labor practices. That a progressive tax system is what’s right for our society. That we should fight for the rights of all Americans, not just those that can afford to be heard.

I’m not ashamed to stand up for those things, but we have to let our voice be heard. We shouldn’t stoop to dirty tactics, so let’s focus on the policies here. Let’s not insult huge swaths of the electorate. Let’s reach out and have an impact on the smallest of levels. Let’s go and tell the stories of those benefiting from our policies. Let’s tell the truth about who we are and what we believe. Let’s show our passion.

“Let’s have two parties, huh? What do you say?”

Originally published on the Politics for Tomorrow blog. Part of PeachPod.

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