with hope for the future from Liberal Street Fighter

Dear Governor Dean,

It wasn’t that long ago that you thrilled so many of us with the following words:

Our history has been the story of change. The struggle to live up to our founding ideals—justice and equality—has been an ongoing one. When we have seen injustice and inequality in our institutions and our laws, the American people have risen time and again to challenge them.

When the majority of Americans awoke to the injustice of slavery, our citizens decided that no moral future existed for a Republic that allowed the ownership of our fellow human beings.

And once slavery had been abolished, the country went on to guarantee the rights of women.

As America developed its industrial potential, the work of many began to yield vast riches for the few. Industrial barons began to dominate the economic and political systems, subjugating the interests of the people to their own narrow benefit.

The people again rose to the challenge with the birth of the modern labor movement. They fought to put government back on the side of the people, and passed laws to allow the government to deliver a series of landmark reforms, including child labor laws, the forty-hour work week, worker safety laws, and the minimum wage. These measures brought new meaning to the concept of equality—an equality of opportunity.

Later that century, the people came together to fight against racial segregation, joining the Freedom Ride to bring down the barriers to voting, participating in countless demonstrations to protest injustice, and gathering for the March on Washington to hear the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. dream of a day when “the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.”

And now we enter a new era. After a few decades of relative peace and prosperity, we are beginning to see that our system is once again out of balance, and the interests of the people are not being served. It should not be this way; as Thomas Jefferson said, “Public offices were [not] made for private convenience.”

Our path for the future is clear: it is the path that generations before us have taken. It is to change America the only way it can be changed—through the people.

When our country goes wrong, it is our duty to set it right.

Many of us had hope that you would bring those ideals to the DNC as our Chairman. Your fifty state strategy is a thrilling idea. Paul Hackett’s run in Ohio is just the latest example that an application of passion, of genuine commitment to our ideals can eventually help us take our party back. Many of us have allowed ourselves to hope that the Democratic Party CAN be an engine for change and a way for us to fight for our freedoms. You set that example for many of us.

Why, then, are we seeing signs that the pressure being applied by the entrenched interests of the party elite seem to be moving you away from earlier principled stands?

Why, Doctor Dean, do we hear things like this on “Meet the Press”:

You know what I’d prefer to see, frankly?  I’d prefer to see medical practice boards around the country, state by state–because people do believe different things about this in different states.  I’d prefer to see medical practice boards around the country set ethical guidelines for abortion.  I don’t have a problem with that.  You know, I don’t know of people who do third-term abortions without a moral reason for doing it, which is to save the health and life of the mother.  So let them set some ethical guidelines.  But I think this debate ought to get out of the realm of having politicians standing up and grandstanding.

Dr. Dean, many of us understand that you are under a great deal of pressure from the rightwing of our party, but how can you, as a medical doctor, endorse such a terrible imposition onto the privacy of women in states where our party might not hold the majority?  As posted at Liberal Street Fighter, and crossposted at numerous other forums, Dr. Warren Hern makes the case that this is a terrible idea:

Your idea of setting up “medical practice boards” to decide who gets late abortions was ruled unconstitutional in Doe v. Bolton in 1973. Look it up. You have no excuse for not knowing this. It is also an invitation for the anti-abortion nut case doctors to take over the process. Terrible idea. Drop it.

Doctor, I know that some in our party are bringing rightwing funded trojan horses like Democrats for Life around in the vain hope of showing that the Democratic Party has “values.” Who defines “values,” Dr. Dean? Why can’t we talk about values with religious folks who actually SHARE our values, like The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, folks who are proud to stand WITH those who know that a women’s health choices are between her and her doctor:

Today, the Religious Coalition is an alliance of national organizations from major faiths, affiliates throughout the country, and the national Clergy for Choice Network, Spiritual Youth for Reproductive Freedom, and The Black Church Initiative.

While our members are religiously and theologically diverse, they are unified in the commitment to preserve reproductive choice as a basic part of religious liberty.

Those are the kinds of bridges we need to build for a better and brighter future for our people, our party and our country.

Chairman Dean,

We must ask you to consider just WHOSE Chairman you are. Is it the elected officials in Washington DC? Do you work for the consultants who’ve led us to defeat after defeat? We’ve all heard that it’s not your job to set policy, but what if those policies serve only to appease Republican policies?

Mr. Chairman, it’s not that those of us out in the roots expect you to save us. All over this country, newly energized Democrats and revitalized old-timers, inspired by your words and your exhortations that we have the power, are working hard to bring Democratic values back to power in our government, from the school board to the city council to state legislature to Governor’s Mansions and eventually to the White House. We’re ready to fight at your side, and the side of other principled progressives in our party leadership, to build a better and stronger and more compassionate and productive America.

We can’t do that if entrenched interests continue to attack the needs of our party base to press some narrow agenda. We can’t move forward if we are moving backwards on women’s healthcare, or on full suffrage for ALL of our country’s citizens. We, and you, are presented with a false choice in places like Pennsylvania, where party insiders and dynasties insist that there has to be a choice made between labor and women, between our core values and WINNING.

A recent poll shows that women are returning to Democratic Party, and it’s vital that we don’t give them reason for second thoughts.

We won’t win if we don’t stand together, for ALL of us. Please, Chairman Dean, take a step back from this course you’re being led on. It doesn’t help us to parse language on women’s health care. We need to stand together, strong and committed, for ALL American’s privacy and autonomy. None of us are truly free as long as some of us are held hostage to some vocal group’s bigotries or religious beliefs. We can fight at your side, bring about a new, more progressive America, but know that we will fight, even if the party follows the exortations of our party’s right, even if our party leaves us behind to fight for ourselves. If you continue on this course, if you don’t find a way to say no to these relentless calls for the party to move right, to become more Republican, the party WILL split, and all of the hard work you, and so many others, have done will be for naught. We can build a new way, a way not old left, not right and certainly not “third.” An American Way, with full freedom, autonomy and respect for all of us. Our party can live up to that ideal, and you can help us get there.

also xposted at dailyKos

PHOTO SOURCES: Go here for the Common Sense historical marker.

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