Monday, June 19, 2006

The 'Whatever' and 'Do Your Own Thing' Party

A 'common knowledge' refrain in national political circles is that American voters don't know what the Democrats stand for. This is thought to hurt Democratic electoral prospects, because voters are hesitant to vote for a party that seems to be a muddle of voices and messages.

Stepping up last week to her leadership role as House minority leader was Nancy Pelosi who responded to quite reasonable questions about where the Democrats stand on Iraq. She responded (as reported by Linda Feldman in the Christian Science Monitor on 19 June 2006) thus:
We don't even have a party position on the war. We don't ask members to do one thing or another.

It was another leading Democrat, Bill Clinton, who adopted a similar stance on a military matter of his day: the "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy regarding gays in the military. Pelosi's version appears to be:
We don't ask party members their position on the war, and we certainly don't tell!

Linda Feldman quotes pollster John Zogby as saying,
The war is the elephant in the living room. The Democrats need to have a firm position.

How can the American people trust the Democrats to lead on national security issues if they don't have a party position on the most important current security issue of all? Pelosi should try harder to get a unified position even if it is a minimalist compromise. Otherwise she isn't doing her job.

Charles Knight

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