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Gray Watson Personal Thoughts 2004.11.03
Re: Two Nations Under God

[ The following is my letter to the editor of the New York Times in response to Tom Friedman's Op-Ed column entitled Two Nations Under God. A shorter version is below to fit within the 150 word limit. ]

RE: Tom Friedman's Op-Ed column entitled "Two Nations Under God"

In response to Friedman's "Two Nations Under God" I must point out that Bill Clinton, the pro-choice, pro-gay-rights Democrat would have wiped the floor with Bush had he been able to run.

It is easy to point to a niche voting block and say that it was they who made the difference -- they who voted in the President. 59 million citizens voted for Bush on Tuesday, a relatively small percentage of which are religious or ideological zealots. If Kerry won Ohio, the papers might be talking about how Moveon.org and other progressive groups chose the President.

We must not fall prey to the typical media analysis of simplistic exit surveys as the ultimate indicator of our electorate. For me the election came down to character -- demonstrated by one statement made by each candidate. For Kerry it was his response when Jim Lehrer gave him the opportunity to address the "flip-flop" label:

"I made a mistake in how I talk about the war. But the president made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is worse?"

This was nowhere near where it needed to be to counter the stigma. For the President it was in the same debate and during the convention where he said:

"I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with the decisions I've made. And I made some tough decisions. But people know where I stand."

Exactly right on. Regardless of whether you agreed with the President, you know where he stands. Kerry at the very least was not able to communicate with the electorate and at the worst was too aware of the political winds to take a tough stand on the issues. Like Gore before him, the Democrats again put up a candidate who was unable to connect with voters to properly share their vision and counter the typical GOP attacks.

Ultimately, it was the failures of Kerry and the Democratic Party leadership to design and communicate a simple, specific, and generally convincing platform that sealed our fate on Tuesday. It is our responsibility as Americans and as Democrats to make sure that we get new, progressive party leaders who will set a direction and truly lead the party out of the fog.

Sincerely,
Gray Watson

Short 150 Word Version

[ The following is a shortened version to fly under the 150 word limit for NY Times letters. ]

It is easy to point to a niche voting-block like the "Religious Right" and say that they made the difference. However, consider that Bill Clinton, the pro choice/gay-rights Democrat would have wiped the floor with Bush had he been available. 59 million citizens elected Bush -- a relatively small percentage of whom are zealots. If Kerry won Ohio, the papers would talk about how Moveon.org chose the President.

We must not fall prey to the media analysis of simplistic exit surveys as the ultimate indicator of our electorate. For me it was a question of character. Even if you don't agree with Bush, you know where he stands. Kerry at the least was unable to communicate with the voters and at the worst was too aware of the political winds to make tough decisions.

Ultimately, it was the failure of the Democrats to communicate a simple, specific, and convincing platform.

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