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Kerry: No change needed in party

“We have to go out and fight for the real issues that make a difference in the lives of the American people and we don’t need some great lurch to the right or lurch to the left or redefinition of the Democratic Party. The last thing America needs is a second Republican Party.”

— John Kerry, in a speech yesterday to Dem state legislators

If he believes the Dems don’t have an identity crisis with voters, then I want this guy nowhere near the ballot in 2008. Kerry comes off as just another party hack, whining without solutions — because the Dems don’t have any problems, right? I’m glad to hear Kerry come out of the box with something to say that calls the Bush admin out for its failures, but that quote, even as it attempts to excoriate the Dems as well, says nothing. Where should the party be on issues? (crickets chirping)

What is good news is that he’s going to put the focus on state legislature candidates — the GOP is working extremely hard (and throwing money at the local level to stack state houses with wingnuts, so any help on that level is a boost.

After blistering Republicans on everything from Iraq to health care, Kerry said Democrats have an opportunity to rebuild nationally by simply addressing the concerns that affect people’s daily lives — energy, transportation, health care and security.

…Kerry spoke to 750 Democratic state legislators who were attending the National Conference of State Legislatures. He announced plans to campaign and raise money for Democratic legislative candidates across America.

His ill-fated 2004 presidential campaign was still clearly on Kerry’s mind, with an analysis and a broadside against President Bush and congressional Republicans taking up the lion’s share of his 35-minute speech to the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee’s luncheon.

Kerry said Bush and the Republicans have used the terrorism issue to divert attention from issues that favored the Democrats. In an arch comment about the president’s recent statement in favor of teaching “intelligent design” as an alternative to the theory of evolution, Kerry said, “I think we ought to be getting some intelligent design in our policy in Iraq.”

That drew a standing ovation and whoops of delight from the audience. Kerry told his audience that while Republicans dither and practice politics of “nastiness and partisanship,” Democratic legislators are showing the right stuff, connecting with people on their front porches and then going to the capitals to fix their problems.

“The states are now the laboratories, much more than before, because of the refusal of Washington to do what’s important and necessary. You’re forced to spend too much time cleaning up what Washington either messes up or leaves undone altogether.”

In another article on this speech by the Seattle Times, it’s clear Kerry doesn’t get the irony of this statement, or he wouldn’t have said it.

“America’s future is being hijacked today by a group of politicians whose interest in exercising power and presenting a narrow ideological agenda and winning elections … has taken all precedence over a legitimate effort to solve the problems of our country,” he said.

He could be talking about his own party.

It’s the reason the Democrats have been running like the house is on fire from taking a strong stand on social issues, such as gay civil rights (not just marriage) and protecting women’s reproductive freedom. Have you seen any Dems calling out black pastors responsible for taking faith-based cash and fomenting homophobia in an attempt to steer votes toward the GOP? Should be a no-brainer, but they are worried about retaining votes more than doing the right thing. Today’s Dems want to get elected, and they will shape shift to attract the votes, instead of reframing difficult issues in ways that don’t toss out core principles.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding