To Make 1 Definition, Mix 1 Cup Simplicity and Two Cups Specifics

Sorry Kos, but this is a wholly useless distillation of the Democratic party:

Democrats are the party for people who work for a living

We're also the party of puppies, smiles, things that light up, people who do good deeds, parents who comfort their children, and those cool brown things that you wrap around a cup so you can hold your hot coffee.

And that aside, I wonder what all those folks who work for a living and don't vote Democrat, or don't always vote Democrat, are going to think? And what about students, like me -- are Democrats not for me? After all the times we've shared? What changed? And who works for a living -- is that a swipe at professionals and academics, or just at heirs?

Kos, and everyone else, says you can stop a person on the street, ask them what the Republican party is all about, and they'll say:

smaller government and lower taxes, family values, and a strong national defense.

And while I dispute that most anyone on the street could rattle off that group of responses, there's a reason that we judge them powerful: they mean something. Those responses are policies. They're not code nor platitude, they simply say that, if you elect a Republican, your government will be smaller, your taxes lower, gays won't marry, and the army will kick ass. It's an agenda, and a quickly comprehensible one.

Kos's idea, conversely, isn't an agenda. It's the same sort of thing as Kerry's ill-fated "Stronger at Home, Respected in the World", or his short-lived "Let America Be America Again". It sounds like the sort of blob-like slogan that emerges from consultant meetings -- everybody's for working people! We'll be for working people! Think some Democrat is going to step up to the debate podium, say he's for working people, and get the Republican to say "Yes, well, unlike my opponent, I'm running to represent the rich and indolent"? It'll never happen. They'll run ads attacking our policies, talking about how our environmentalism forces manufacturing jobs overseas, and that's the end of our "definition", simply because it isn't a definition, it's a platitude. And so we won't be defined, we'll be exactly where we are now.

What Republicans have, and what we envy, are a set of agreed-upon policies that comprise the spine of their legislative agenda. If Democrats want to match them, we have to be the party of "guaranteed health care, regulated corporations, a livable wage, universal day care, and a crackdown on nuclear materials", or some such combo. Then, if we want, we can append "in service of the proletariat" onto the end. The important thing is the handful of words that let voters know what we'll make happen.

Campaign slogans don't work. They're nice enough when tacked onto a poster, but they don't define anyone. Nobody voted for Bush because they liked the idea of "turning a corner", and nobody voted for Kerry because they thought "stronger at home" sounded like something they were for. Americans aren't morons -- they recognize when a sentence has no coherent meaning. If we want to define ourselves, we'll have to attach ourselves to some specifics, just like the Republicans have. Nothing else will do. And until our party figures out how to agree on five policies they can, rain or shine, support, we'll never have the "definition" we so crave.

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