If I got a dime for every time I have seen a news article/TV report/Radio report equate "inclusion" with "centrism"... well, I wouldn't be writing this blog entry if I got a dime for every time I saw that, I'll tell you that.
So what's this deal with inclusion and/or/vs. centrism? Does being a "centrist" party for the Democrats mean that it is also more inclusive? Does being inclusive necessitate being "centrist" - which too often is a code-word for Republican-lite (which is sad, really)? If you think about it logically, inclusivity is not only not the same thing as centrism, the Democrats' constant shift to the right is actually costing the Democratic party voters and supporters. In fact when in the Democrats' drunk madness of moving to the "center" they decide to abandon long-held traditional Democratic values - which are also dearly held American principles - the party becomes more exclusive, not inclusive. That is because people loyal to the party rightly feel sick to their stomach, and they decide to leave. In addition, people aren't stupid. They see a party that stands for nothing (except for "we should move here or there") and wisely avoid joining. So the Democratic party loses both its traditional loyal supporters and new people. Who's left? Washington's hollow powerhouse, and the people who are caught into this game of "Be a Republican to beat a Republican."
This is not to say that Democrats ought to become the party of the far left wingnuts. There is no reason why Democrats cannot support ingenuity, entrepreneurship, business and small, effective government. But we cannot abandon our core values and principles. What are these? Equal rights, responsibility and strength, protection, empathy, community, honesty and fairness. We need to stand up for universal healthcare because it is about family, community, and our social responsibility to each other (never mind it also means higher productivity for the work force). We're the party that protects medical privacy and reproductive freedom for men and women. We reject bigotry and discrimination in all their forms. Because we believe in fairness, we support labor's right to strike a fair bargain with their employers. We believe in preserving our ultimate inheritence - this planet - and protecting it for future generations. We believe in affordable public education because fairness directs that no one be denied equal opportunity to succeed. We believe in the strength of our ideas, and we honor the strength and contributions of those who wear the uniform of this country. And because we believe in fairness, strength, and honesty, we believe that the force of our weapons must not be used in a dishonest manner. Our soldiers fight to protect our freedoms and rights around the world; the least we can do for them is protect their right to not be used for a political agenda here at home.
On these basic values and principles, we are a united front. And on these fronts we need to be united. Nobody is insane enough to call for all Democrats vote in lockstep in all votes, but the principles that borne the party cannot be abandoned. Other than where it clashes with our deeply held moral beings as Democrats, it will be crazy for anyone to expect that Democrats will vote in lockstep.
If Democrats take these principles as given, and spoke out with the courage of their convictions, it would not only keep the loyal Democrats in the party, it will show people who are outside the party that the party has a moral convictions. People can identify with that because most Americans are also people of convictions. And they all believe in protection, liberty, equal rights, fairness, community, and honesty. As they say, the "swing voters" will swing towards those who take a stand rather than those who hang in the middle. And that's what "moving to the center" essentially means: essentially, try to find a position, not a principle that supposedly lands you in the "mainstream." Guess what, we already have mainstream principles. We just need to stop cowering and showing that we do. Otherwise, inclusivity will never become a reality - even if Democrats moved so far to the "center" they'd fall off the face of the earth. The way to win is not to play the game on their turf.
You see, "centrism" does on inclusivity make.