I attended a talk given by Vermont Lt. Governor candidate, Matt Dunne, about a week ago. As I listened to Matt--who has led the national Americorps-VISTA program, served in the Vermont Senate for 11 years and been involved in service in many other ways--what inspired me most was his call to service for all Vermonters. I think that, as much as anything, is something we Dems can hold up and hold on to. I am not sure, yet, how to craft the right sound bite, so be patient with my in-articulation! However, I've got an image:
Move-on has started a TV ad-campaign showing Republican "leaders" with their hands dyed red. I don't think I have to explain that theme. The list is seemingly endless...Delay, Cheney, Libby, Bush, Abramoff...and growing every day.
Dems on the other hand have hands that have been used in service. I think of hands that have reached out to help others in need - helping the elderly and working with hospice patients, cleaning up natural waterways of trash and other pollutants, constructing and painting houses after Katrina, stacking donated food at food banks, teaching children, holding anti-war picket signs, and yes, writing checks to charity (which by-the-way the disappearing middle class does in far greater percentage than the upper class: "Except for seniors, upper middle class and middle rich filers are nearly half as generous as everyone else," according to at least one study I have read).
Our hands are "dirty" in a good way; they are strong, callaused, caring and stand ready for the next opportunity to serve our fellow citizens. They are ready to pick up the pieces of Iraq. They are ready to shake the hands of a new generation of activists. They are strong enough to do the hard work we need to clean this mess up!
(photo fatal Cleopatra on flikr)
I anticipate the reaction from Republicans - that they are volunteers, too. Yes. Their constituents may be. But it is not what their party is about. It is what OUR party is about. Just as the Republicans think they can co-opt Christianity, I think we can co-opt Service, connectedness, helping not only our "neighbors" but also reaching out to those who are beyond our neighborhoods.
Anyway... I have more thoughts on what we are "for" in terms of issues and platform. I too have been dissatified by our Party's lack of vision on this front. I have to admit, though, that as I work on creating positive statements about what we stand for, I find it very tough going. I'll keep you updated, if I hit on anything profound.