Wednesday, March 22, 2006

In Case You Missed It...

It's pretty much agreed that Democrats aren't very good at publicizing their talking points (okay, let's just say they're terrible at it). Take for instance. Here is a website that lists not only complaints about the Bush administration's policies, but also new policies and strategies for doing things differently. But how many times have you heard lately by the media that the Democrats have no plans for what they'd do if they were the majority Party?

Here's another one of those publicity problems. Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) led a group of House Democrats in composing and releasing a Catholic Statement of Principles a few weeks ago. Signed by 55 House Democrats, it explains how their faith influences them as lawmakers and how the Church's teachings and moral leadership influence their work as legislators. Did you hear about it on February 28 when it was released? Neither did I. In fact, I came across it accidentally while searching for something entirely unrelated.

It's a fairly brief document, and I'd recommend you give it a read. It doesn't go into too much detail, but it does a good job of explaining where they stand on important social issues (including abortion) and how they balance their lives as Catholics and their duties as legislators to ensure this country remains free and fair to people of all faiths.

Before the last Presidential election, much was made of a document circulated by some Catholic laypeople "explaining" how Catholic legislators were not following several "key" tenants of the Catholic faith, and therefore couldn't be voted for without being in direct conflict with the church yourself (i.e. you'd be sinning if you voted for Kerry). This received a fair amount of publicity despite the fact that it was not created or endorsed by the Church itself. Oh, and it also turned out to be pretty much untrue as far as what it listed as key tenants of the Catholic faith, but that didn't stop it from being passed out at some churches (including one I go to occasionally in Hamilton County) before the election.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops put together their own voter's guide that was much more fair and instructed people on how to use their faith to come to their own decision in the voting booth. It wasn't nearly as sexy and did not receive any media attention (although credit goes to my church for making them available to all parishioners).

The USCCB also put together a "report card" of Catholic Senators' voting records based on how they measured up with the Church's teachings. It was shocking in that the LOWEST scoring Democrat on the list still scored higher than the HIGHEST scoring Republican. The only category the Democrats didn't match up with the Church was abortion, while it turns out that was pretty much the only category that the Republicans DID match up with. I agree that abortion is a big issue, but the fact that Catholic Republicans were ignoring Catholic teachings on EVERY OTHER ISSUE tells me a lot about who should be refused communion at mass on Sunday. Again, no mention was made of this by the media, and the Democrats either didn't know about it themselves or were typically incompetent in getting the word out.

Bringing this back around to the House Democrats Catholic Statement of Principles, they do a good job (in their brief statement) of explaining where they stand on abortion, acknowledging that they face complex issues that aren't simply black or white. I bet if the USCCB examined their voting records, they'd do about as well in measuring up to Catholic teachings as the Senate Democrats did in 2004.

But if the Democratic Party's publicity machine stays broken, you'd never hear about it.


At 3/22/2006 1:40 PM, Anonymous Katie Feltman said...

As someone who struggles to find a political party I can actually identify and get on board with (and I am more democrat in my views than anything in the literal sense of democrat), this is interesting and I am glad you provided the link to the URL. I think the disconnect with the media portrayal of the Democratic party is not an issue with the media (and the media does have bias issues to be certain) but rather an issue with those designated as the public representatives and speakers of the Democratic party. Take for example Howard Dean's performance on Meet the Press a few months ago. Not to harp on something far in the past but it's no wonder the Democratic party is getting harpooned in the media for having no clear path. When Dean was on MTP, Bush's rating was at an all-time low (i.e. Mr. Dean - the majority of this country is NOT happy with his performance - it's old news). Instead of taking this as an opportunity to position the Democrats as a party of change and improvement and speak to issues that matter, Dean participated in the tired, old let's throw stones at Bush et al game and ended up looking like quite a moron in my opinion and also doing a disservice to the Democratic party. So while the dems according to this site may have a clear(er) roadmap for how to make this country a better place, they need to do a better job of designating articulate, intelligent, credible people to convey the message, not people like Dean who clearly seem heck-bent on continuing to belabor the same tired old Bush-bashing tactics. Not to engage in Dean-bashing because I was very pro-Dean last election, but I just don't think he's the right person to be leading the Democratic party if he can't embrace the message of change and let go of the "everyone against Bush" movement. I don't like Bush's politics but I want a change-focused party, not one of finger-pointing.

At 3/23/2006 1:07 PM, Blogger Button said...

Agreed that most of the Dems image problems are their own fault. Not that the media helps -- I don't think they have much of a bias so much as they suffer from a combination of incompetence and only wanting to cover the "sexy" stories that drive ratings. But really the Dems continue to either harp on the wrong things (like you mentioned about Dean) or keep too quiet. They need to learn how to control the message themselves instead of always responding to Republican talking points.


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