The two magic words for the Democrats

While it’s easy to get caught up in the mainstream media’s focus on the latest small shiny object, Democrats should take a deep breath and ask themselves, “What do we stand for?” In our Messaging Manifesto for Democrats published over two years ago, we provided a possible answer in just two words. Here’s how Democrats can get back to basics and promote fundamental Democratic Party values in the current political and media climate:

The two magic words for the Democratic Party are “Protection” and “Security.” These words encompass Democratic policies and programs like Social Security (note the name), Medicare, Medicaid, the Voting Rights Act, Marriage Equality and the Affordable Care Act (granted, the ACA does not come close enough to the Protection and Security ideal of universal single-payer health care coverage).

Democrats can tout Protection and Security in foreign policy and national security matters too, such as President Obama‘s shifting away from George W. Bush‘s folly in Iraq and toward the targeting of Osama bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders. And if Democrats feel that their leaders are not adhering properly to the Democratic Party’s ideals of Protection and Security (for example, “chained CPI” and drone strikes), it’s up to Democrats to pressure our leaders to get back to these fundamental values. Democrats can remind Democratic politicians that good policy is good politics.

In today’s political climate, two issues immediately come to mind in which the Democrats can promote their values of Protection and Security:

1. Gun Safety

While Republicans rail about the deaths of four Americans in Libya, approximately four Americans die every hour from gun violence in the U.S. And, as the recent U.S. Senate vote on gun background checks demonstrated, Democrats in Congress are almost universally in favor of sensible gun safety steps, while Congressional Republicans almost universally oppose such steps. The 90 percent popularity of increased background checks makes it clear that Democrats can hammer Republicans on this issue, promote Protection and Security, and fight for a good policy all at the same time.

2. Oklahoma Tornado

The deadly tornado that struck Moore, Oklahoma today gave the mainstream media a break from covering so-called “scandals,” and brings several political issues to the forefront. First, the stories of courageous teachers risking their lives to protect schoolchildren and brave first responders risking their own safety to provide Protection and Security to the victims remind us that Republicans have systematically gone to war against teachers and first responders, with budget cuts, firings, failure to provide health care, and mean-spirited attacks. And if President Obama calls in FEMA or provides federal aid to Oklahoma [UPDATE: such federal help is now on its way], Americans will be reminded of the Republicans’ failures during and after Hurricane Katrina, and Willard Mitt Romney‘s statement that federal disaster relief is “immoral.” In contrast, Democrats repeatedly have stood with teachers, first responders and FEMA, promoting “good government” and the Protection and Security of our citizens.

Second, the Oklahoma tornado, possibly the worst in history and following not just other devastating tornadoes in the same area over the past 15 years but also Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy last October, reminds us that climate change is a reality and may be partly to blame for devastating weather events in recent years. This in turn brings up the sharp contrast between Republicans who think climate change is a “hoax” and Democrats who want to reduce global warming to provide Protection and Security to Americans.

In sum, getting back to basics and touting the Democratic Party’s core principles of Protection and Security will help clarify what we stand for no matter what the mainstream media happen to be focusing on this week or next.

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