Thursday, July 29, 2004
Key Themes, Core Strategy Unite Democrats
But Underlying Contradictions Remain Between Activist Base And Corporate Funders
By Frank O'Brien
Boston - July 28

Today the key themes of Democrats campaign to win back the White House came into focus.
     - Jobs
     - Health Care
     - Education

And the Iraq war.

In forums, corridor conversations, flyers, position papers and speeches from the podium, Democrats advanced the case that President Bush has failed. And not simply that Bush has made mistakes or implemented ineffective policies. The Democrat's foundation case is that Bush has fundamentally mislead the American people on core issues of economic policy and terrorism.

That is the first part of their argument. The second part is that Democrats offer hope, an affirmative solution to the concerns of all Americans.

The unanimity on this core strategy is impressive. Far from chafing under the restraint of a common message, Democrats are willingly unified in their focus on victory in November.

Yet the stump speech rhetoric and strategic assessments have a disconnect from a number of issues that concern many activists and progressives here: starting with the question of how to preserve individual liberty in a time of terrorism, and beyond that the level of corporate influence in the political decison-making system.

So great is the desire to remove Bush from power that the Democrats have willingly and with complete unanimity set aside fundamental questions of how a party with an strong progressive agenda can be funded to a great degree by the very interests they seek to reform.

Ralph Nader's name has been greeted with derision at every mention.

A number of Washington, DC think-tanks have run seminars setting out the detailed measures that would implement the agenda based on core concerns of health care, jobs and education.

The Democrats are unified. They have a solid policy foundation for core set of issues. The incumbent is vulnerable. As Sen. Diane Feinstein said at the morning breakfast for California delegates, never have the indicators looked so poor for an incumbent and so encouraging for a challenger.

Now the question for Thursday. Can John Kerry deliver?

As always, the best action is in the streets. A rally co-sponsored by the ACLU and Amnesty Intentional was held Wednesday in drizzling rain at the Copley Square Park across from the main delegate hotels.

Using art as part of the event, the organizers had set up a schematic prison, with three people lined up, each holding a panel. The first had printed the saying of Pastor Niemller (Berlin, 1939):

     First they came for the Jews
     But I did not speak out because I was not a Jew
     Then they came for the Communists
     And I did not speak out because I was not a communist
     Then they came for the trade-unionists,
     And I did not speak out because I was not a trade-unionist
     Then they came for the Catholics
     And I did not speak out because I was not Catholic
     And then they came for me
     And there was no one left to speak out for me.

The second had a woman in prison jumpsuit behind a cage and the third was a mirror.

On Wednesday night Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn spoke to the convention. The Mayor was very well received, especially by the California delegation. These were his remarks:

The Honorable James Hahn

Democratic National Convention

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

BOSTON, July 28 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a transcript of a speech by The Honorable James Hahn, before the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, July 28, 2004:

Good evening! I was ten years old when I attended my first Democratic Convention in my hometown of Los Angeles, where a son of Massachusetts was nominated to run for president. That man was John F. Kennedy.

Tonight, I am proud to be a California delegate here to nominate another son of Massachusetts to be our next President -- John Kerry.

I know that John Kerry understands one of the greatest challenges facing America's cities -- making our communities safe from crime. As Mayor of Los Angeles, I have made this my top priority. And here's why: I've talked with too many parents who have lost their children to gun violence. I've met too many mothers who make their children sleep in cast-iron bathtubs to protect them from stray bullets; too many young people who have simply given up hope.

John Kerry worked with President Clinton to put thousands more police officers on our streets. Crime went down, and our economy improved. Our country's current leadership has shifted away from that commitment. And we need it now more than ever.

Not only are cities struggling to fight crime, our local police and firefighters have become America's first responders. We're proud to be part of our homeland security efforts. But cities can't face this challenge alone. We need a president who will work with cities to prevent terrorism in our neighborhoods -- whether by foreign terrorists or local street gangs. We need a president who understands that small investments in after-school programs pay huge dividends.

In Los Angeles, we stretched our budget to put more officers on the street and to give young people opportunities to make positive choices. It paid off: violent crime was down last year. We can't afford to lose that momentum.

I'm proud to partner with the L.A.P.D. and a community that wants its neighborhoods back. I have been proud to partner with Senator Dianne Feinstein to ban assault weapons and with Senator Barbara Boxer to increase access to after-school programs. And, I'm looking forward to working with the Kerry White House.

Earlier this year, I visited the F.D.R. Memorial where the words "Freedom from Fear" are etched in stone. Freedom from fear -- what a gift that would be to our country. I know that John Kerry and John Edwards will work with every city in America to meet that goal.

We must fight like we've never fought before to put them in the White House.

I know we'll do it, and I'm looking forward to a better America!

Thank you! 


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