If you asked me to describe my ideal candidate for president, all I could really tell you is “Not Bush.” I would say more, but I can’t think of a single candidate who fits my definition of a Democrat. Or, more specifically, I don’t really know how a Democrat is defined nowadays. The Democrats have had an awful time of finding their new niche in post-9/11 America. Although they want to make sure it never happens again, they also want people to be able to still have other rights too. Although they want to increase government spending to aid in the stimulating of the economy, they don’t want all of the increases to be for defense. And most importantly, although Democrats have all these concerns, they don’t want to seem unpatriotic by going against the 9/11 mantra of “safety first.”
While the Bush administration’s rhetoric about patriotism and bringing all the evil trios of countries to justice is deeply moving, it doesn’t immediately make everyone who doesn’t think that way a traitor. The Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to question the way the administration dealt with the terrorism issue and more importantly, shouldn’t be afraid to question how much money is being dedicated to defense when other important programs many Americans enjoy, like Social Security and Medicare, slowly slip into ruin. The only way to effectively challenge the current administration is if the opposition starts acting like, well, the opposition.
Thankfully, a few candidates such as Howard Dean have had the gumption to declare their desire for drastic departure from the current administration’s course. Unfortunately, the party as a whole seems to be testing the water to see if people like Dean are what America really wants before embracing the progressive movement whole heartedly.
Although many tried and true Democrats will always vote Democrat simply because it’s the Democratic Party, name recognition can only get the party so far. If the party hopes to even stand a chance in 2004, I think the Democratic Party would be wise to redefine exactly what it is the party stands for aside from simply making it difficult for Bush get anything passed in Congress.
Elaine Ayo is a freshman majoring in Journalism. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org