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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
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The Real "Big Tent" Party

Comment

Never known for their humility, Democrats frequently brag about their being the "inclusive "American political party. It is true that if the Democrats in Denver took a class picture, there would be more people of different racial, ethnic and national origin who look different from each other than there would be in a similar Republican photo op in St. Paul. But the truth is that Democrats at the convention "look" a lot more diverse than they think diverse.

Consider the first five announced speakers — not named Bush or Cheney — who will speak to the 2008 Republican national convention. Four of them — California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge — are pro-choice on the issue of abortion. Alone, among the five, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee agrees with the overwhelming majority of GOP delegates and the party's platform in his opposition to legal abortion.

And what about those proudly "diverse" Democrats? First-term Pennsylvania senator and Barack Obama backer Bob Casey will be the first pro-life Democrat in recent history to be given a prime speaking slot at a party convention. You tell me: Which of the two parties is more open and welcoming to being exposed to differing voices on abortion?

There is a certain measure of vindication in Casey's Denver speech. Those of us who were there still remember Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1992 and the Democratic convention that nominated Bill Clinton for the first time.

The Democratic governor of Pennsylvania, that year and from 1986 to 1994, was the late Bob Casey, the father of the current senator. And what a Democrat he was! He appointed the first African-American woman to any American state supreme court. His cabinet included more women than that of any other governor.

He was the undisputed champion in providing school-based childcare for infants and preschoolers — and poor children. This meant that teenage parents could complete their education.

T. Barry Brazelton, the nationally esteemed pediatrician, called Casey's programs that provided health insurance for all children in the state whose families were too poor to pay for it "a model for the rest of the country."

There was one U.S. governor in the recession of the early '90s who steadfastly refused to cut welfare payments to the least and the lost among us. That governor was Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who increased state spending on AIDS from $665,000 to $21 million.

With such an admirable Democratic record, Gov. Bob Casey could have reasonably expected an invitation to tell his story to the 1992 convention. But not only was Casey not invited to speak, he and his Pennsylvania delegation were banished to the most remote location in Madison Square Garden. You see, Governor Casey was strongly pro-life, and no pro-life voices were to be heard.

In fact, to drive that last point home, while the Democratic governor of Pennsylvania was not allowed to speak, Kathy Taylor, a Republican Pennsylvania state representative who had opposed and voted against Casey's progressive tax reform but who was strongly pro-choice, was given a coveted speaking assignment from the convention podium.

Whether motivated by a new broadmindedness or naked self-interest, Democratic leaders in the Senate and the House have backed winning pro-life House nominees already this year in special elections in Louisiana and Mississippi. In 2006, New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the Democrats' Senate campaign chief, boldly interfered in a Senate primary to back a pro-life candidate who was nominated and who defeated the Republican incumbent that November. The state was Pennsylvania, and the winning Democrat of course was Bob Casey. Just maybe, there is some hope for the Democrats.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.

COPYRIGHT 2008 MARK SHIELDS



Comments

5 Comments | Post Comment
Mark Shields; I would like to thank you for pointing out the obvious: that parties do not represent rights, or what is right. Do you believe there are only two issues facing America? I don't. So there should be more than two parties, or better, none at all. And to the extent that parties are keeping needs unaswered, and ideas unexamined they are ruining the place. What if you had to go through life saying no more than yes or no, black or white, right or wrong? What if it were possible for you to concieve of the world as so many single dimensions?... I am different. My life has always been different, so it is easy for my to think differently. I out smarted a lot of iron in my time, and it was not always by fetching a bigger beater. And the bigger beater mentality isn't working for this country, as it never worked with me. We have a point of agreement on many issues, but if our parties can divide us, they will. Division is the source of their power, and our puny. There is nothing stopping political parties in our constitution; but we should all realize they exist because we buy into their nonsense, and not because they are an official part of the constitution of the U.S... . When we need this government to move, not only for their interest, but for ours, long neglected; will they? We have layers of government so we can get government to move with great effort. Now; We must also make the parties move too, in order to move government, and it demands a super human effort. The thing is; even I am no more than human. I have most of my mighty deeds behind me. And so, I am in the same life boat as everyone else, trying vainly without leverage to move the great intractible wieght of inertial Government into action. There is something about this thing called America, and something about us that makes us believe everythings gonna be alright. It is not alright. And it is not getting any better. And giving the best man a job in a house of ill repute is not going to make him a better deacon.... . When we look at each other, we need to see that we are not the problem, but the solution. The actual difference between republicans and democrats is slight. The problem is that individuals can only justify power over us so long as we have enemies within, and this is a poison to the body politic; and if we can be so easily divided, sheep from goats, we will be weakened and divided in the face of all external enemies, and external reality as well. Government ought to be the place where societies talk; but because of parties, the talking is done before anyone gets to government. Wouldn't we be better off without parties? Wouldn't we do better flooding Washington with people, representatives, pledged to a single constituency? We have to get away from winner take all politics if we would choose to all be winners. The only way we can be united it to remove the only true source of our division. So; Can the Parties.
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Aug 23, 2008 5:22 AM
As democrat and pro life Catholic boomer I appreciated the story of the father and son "Casey's." Your the guy I read (well ok I sometimes read Brooks too) - Thanks for doing what you do.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Helen Green
Sat Aug 23, 2008 9:27 AM
Mark, I love ya but I'm not sure I get the point here. There is no doubt Democrats will do what they need to do to increase their numbers, and if they have to cave here and there on abortion to do it they will. They've been caving on just about everything else. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
What the Republicans are doing is trying to look kinder and gentler, because that is what serves their interests right now as they squirm under the bright light on their ongoing love-in with money and corruption and right wingers on the fringes. They're just competing for votes from the center, which they've proven over and over again they don't deserve any more than they deserve to be called a party of conservatives. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
I would be quite happy if not a single pro-lifer speaks at the Democratic Convention. I don't want to see any bible-thumping anti-evolution idiots there either, or any of the jokers who want to pump every last molecule of nature's hydrocarbons out of the ground and dump them into the air. The Dems do not need to include the kinds of minds that want to undo everything evolution and civilization have accomplished and turn the planet into a combination parking lot and garbage dump. These people do not represent the center, much as the Republicans have tried to make that so. ...............................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
The center is what it's all about, and the Dems do need to speak to and define it for this country. That's called "leadership", something in very short supply these days. That's also where the big tent comes in. There has to be room for all who represent the great racial and ethnic variety of this nation, and for rationality and the lessons of science and civilization to bind us all together there. One can't overstate the importance of that. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
What disturbs me about the Dems is lack of spine and that great self-destruction wish they seem always to harbor. This time, for example, one of the whacko subtexts we are being treated to, fully worth a chapter in the DSM IV, is sponsored by female chauvinists masquerading as feminists who want to hold a contest between white women and black men for the "who is more oppressed" prize. ................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
This is the kind of crap that does the Dems in so much of the time, and perhaps I'm really just saying the same thing you Mark, but in a less elegant way. A difference to be a difference must make a difference, as Gertrude Stein once said, but the Dems are too often swayed by those within their ranks who are willing to engage in civil war over phantoms from the deep or split hairs that should only catch the eyes of the desperately myopic.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Masako
Sat Aug 23, 2008 10:47 AM
Oh please. Haven't we been over the Gov. Bob Casey baloney a million times already?
As has been pointed out REPEATEDLY, Mr. Shields, Casey was refused time to speak in 1992 NOT because he was pro-life, but because he REFUSED to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket.
In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted on several occasions, anti-choice Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, anti-choice Sens. John Breaux and Howell Heflin, and five anti-choice state governors DID speak at the 1992 convention -- so obviously, Casey's abortion stance had nothing to do with his not being allowed to speak.
SHAME ON YOU, Mr. Shields, for repeating this classicly false piece of Republican spin. I would hope you would get the facts and correct this misinformation in a future column. But given the punditocracy's track record in admitting its mistakes, I'm not holding my breath.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Bill Hirschi
Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:41 AM
Re: Bill Hirschi
Sir; none of these people who use party to attack rights should be given a platform of any sort, let alone an office. Government is to do what no religious denomination can do; and that is to protect the rights of all. What is any community that does not protect your rights? If you say you belong to it you are a fool. Their community protects their rights, and my community is anyone who supports my rights. But if government is about protecting rights, and that is the particular good that it does; then it should not be turned into a community that trades in rights, like the parties do.... You know; if you could not take a crap without the government measuring the paper, you could hardly claim to be free. Now; I tend to look at abortion as a sin. Certainly it is a moral outrage; but that is miles away from calling it a crime. It is because if some one is not free in their person they will never be economically free, or politically free. Government must protect the privacy of people acting as individuals in order for this society to be free, and, a community of all.... You must show an injured party before seeking justice, and if those closest to the injured care not for their well being who else has the right if they have shown no caring before the fact? All that non sense about when life begins is a snake pit. We believe life is created by God. Bushet. Life is a fact that no one creates, but each hands on to another generation as it was handed to us. When does life begin? False question, since the life is not new, but older by far than everyone of us..... It is people who qualify as people who have rights; and imaginary people, or potential people do not qualify as people over people already present and recognized by law. The rights of the unborn, no matter how much weight certain groups want to give to them cannot be but by subtraction of rights from the living. It is the want of rights the living must suffer that leads to abortions. If government was working at its own accepted task, people would be happy, and happy people want to share their happiness with others, even children. It is the sad, the frustrated, the over worked, and the fearful who cannot be induced to breed and bear chidlren. If you want children, make someone happy. And; don't hold your breath unless you are under water... thanks.... Sweeney.
Comment: #5
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Thu Aug 28, 2008 12:23 PM
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