Monday, March 8, 2010

Peace, Love, and Happiness...

I came across this video via BoingBoing of people in a New York subway line singing along to Hey Jude. It brought a big smile to my face and I really wish I had been there. It also brought up a couple thoughts on what the democratic party could be doing better, which I'll share after the video.

People really want to belong to something, to feel apart of a group, or feel like they are helping to benefit the greater good of human life. Think of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti: people all over the US started text messaging money to the relief effort, democrats and republicans alike. They wanted to be apart of the movement to help those in need, and even something as small as a text message made them feel as if they were apart of that bigger group.

The democrats have not done a good job of maintaining that feeling of togetherness that was so strong when Obama was elected. Over the course of a year the spirit of the democrats has dwindled. Most democrats still believe that expanded healthcare is important, that global warming is one of the most important issues that humans will ever face, that banks and financial institutions should be regulated to better protect the assets of everyone, and that civil liberties and human rights need to be better protected—but most people simply don't feel apart of the effort to make this change anymore. When Obama was running for election people felt that by campaigning and voting for him they were helping the causes that they believed in so strongly, but now the people aren't involved, they have to let congress do all the work and it seems as if no work is getting done. At the very least the ideas that were so ferociously fought for during the election campaign are being diluted into meaningless bills that no longer represent what the people originally wanted.

There is a disconnect from the government. We need to change that. We need a way to make people feel more involved with their government again. Just like the Teabagger party for the republicans, the democrats need something to rally around. If we could organize large demonstrations to show how many people really do support health care reform, and at the same time organize the people who believe global warming is a problem, and bank regulation, etc., imagine the numbers of people that would show up. We need to rally around our core values as democrats and we need it to be very public, and very positive. Think of the huge demonstrations against the Iraq war, they were a rallying point for those of us who felt we couldn't do anything else, and they helped to energize the party; we won majorities in the house and senate in 2006, and a super majority in the senate in 2008 along with the president. When people see that their beliefs are accepted by many other people they feel energized to get up and do something, to voice their opinions and make real change. Now that we see how stagnant our congress is, even with as large a majority as we have, we need to stand up and voice our opinions very publicly to let them know: we are still here, we still believe in the core values of the democratic party, and we want you to do something about it now that you can.

The election of Scott Brown in Massachusetts has reinvigorated the democrats in congress because they no longer have their magic 60 senate votes. His election, while overall bad news for democrats, has actually helped the health care reform debate because it has caused people to get passionate again about the party. Again there is that feeling that we need to get out and do something to make sure we don't lose this debate, as well as show the republicans that they cannot stop all legislation through filibuster—more than 3/5ths of the country wants these reforms to happen. It's time we started to show the rest of the people who aren't as enthusiastic yet that their beliefs are still valid, and that there are a lot of other people out there who have the same beliefs. If we can do that then maybe we can even get the reconciliation package to include a public option. It may be too late for a major push for health care reform for this year but there are still lots of other ways that we can improve this country, and getting people excited enough to voice their opinions, to show up to rallies, talk to friends and family, and call or write their senators is the first step to making it all happen.

A simple song like Hey Jude has the power to get people together to sing along and feel apart of something bigger than themselves. Can we as democrats find that note that resonates with the people well enough to bring us all together to fight for what we really believe is the right way forward for America?

Update: More public inspiration from song in the subways of NYC (again via BoingBoing)! In this video: Alice Tan Ridley, the mother of the academy award nominee Gabourey Sidibe from Precious, sings I will Survive.


  1. I would just like to make evident that when I say the democrats need something like the teabagger movement to rally around, I don't mean that we should do it in that sort of way only that we need something as public as that to rally around. The Teabaggers are not helping their party; all candidates that are part of the Teabagger revolution are doing terrible. Maybe it has something to do with the name they chose to follow. Teabagger... They should have watched some John Waters movies before deciding on that one. It's like the iPad, only worse, as far as names go.

  2. Yesterday I was slightly invigorated by President Obama's push for an up or down on Health Care, when he spoke at Glenside, PA. His message wasn't anything new, but the energy was that of Candidate Obama. The feeling last year, early in his first year, was that the campaign work had been done, and now we can sit back and watch the Democrats do what they promised they’d do. At the very least, many expected a health care bill to get through by the fall. The inability of Democrats to pass health care early has led to a lack of excitement in their base - and it's exactly because of your point: many on the left stopped feeling like they were part of something greater than themselves. President Obama still has the ability to bring back the excitement. He could motivate people to come out and demand change.

  3. Today a rally in DC for health care is happening, though it's not getting much publicity on any of the news channels apparently... more of this please!