The Democrats turn their lonely eyes to Hillary: Give us a message. Lead us home.
Even for the Wonder Woman of the Party of JFK, this is no easy task. How to decry the excesses of the Bush administration and the GOP Congress without validating the label "The Party of No"?
How to lure enough GOP votes to win elections at a time when Democrat means liberal and liberal is a term of derision?
A Web site set up by a minister and his daughter (www.liveliberal.com) has an answer you can wear on a T-shirt: "Liberal is not a dirty word."
Retired Lutheran minister Daniel Bruch of Live Liberal gets right to the point: "I don't know if Jesus was the first liberal, but he was an important one."
Jesus taught love, tolerance, forgiveness, charity and humility. Don't take my word for it. Read the New Testament. It's not that long. And it's not about fire-and-brimstone fundamentalism, judging one another or dominating the Earth. It outlines a philosophy based on a really radical idea: Love your creator, love yourself, love your neighbor as yourself.
When it comes to following this lesson, the current administration "is walking 180 degrees opposite of the person they call their savior," Bruch said in a phone interview.
On their Web site, Bruch and daughter Sarah offer quotes and essays on liberalism that Hillary Rodham Clinton should work into her speeches. For example, "liberals support changes that increase personal freedom and tolerance, and exercise the liberty to empower government to the extent necessary to achieve those ends."
Instead of trying to make their best candidate, Clinton, into a vanilla-flavored, inoffensive centrist, Democrats ought to boldly point out that liberals provided the impetus to move society toward acceptance of civil rights, women's rights, children's rights, consumers' rights, etc.
Liberals also deserve "family values" mantle because the 40-hour workweek, laws against child labor and other protections for workingmen and women were liberal ideas of old. High-quality childcare is a liberal idea for today's working families.
They should be "for" better wages.
They should be "for" national health care.
They should be "for" being liberals. They should point out that Jesus was a liberal, too.
Somehow, Democrats let others define them as elitist snobs. That label, not the liberal label, is the one Democrats have to shake.
Can Hillary help them do it?
She has the charisma and the intelligence -- and she has infinite patience, or Bill would be toast. She needs the guts to take a proud left turn and loudly proclaim that the United States is not a "Christian nation" in any pinched or exclusionary way. It's a nation that honors the individual rights of pagans, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and others, as well as Christians.
It is also nation that acts for the common good in ways that were meticulously outlined by a radical liberal named Jesus.
Linda Valdez is an editorial writer at The Arizona Republic. She can be reached at email@example.com.
© 2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer