Skip to comments.(Former U.S. Sen. Gary) Hart: Dems Should Revisit Their Principles
Posted on 10/23/2006 6:55:57 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
Former U.S. Sen. Gary Hart has challenged the Democratic Party to redefine its soul, but said he has no plans to be the party's messiah in the 2008 elections.
The two-time presidential hopeful spoke to a capacity crowd on Sunday at the Overture Center's Promenade Hall, promoting a return to principles as outlined in his new book, "The Courage of our Convictions: A Manifesto for Democrats." The talk was part of the closing day of the Wisconsin Book Festival.
Lauding the Democratic Party's stand on civil and equal rights in the 1960s and 1970s, Hart exhorted Democrats to delineate the soul of the party in order to capture the hearts of voters in the upcoming elections.
"Before you seek the leadership of a major party in this country, and certainly the leadership of our country, you ought to be able to state as directly and simply as possible what your basic principles are," he said.
"New issues in the 21st century don't change our principles. Principles define one's soul and the soul...of the political party."
Audience member Mary Boyd of Madison said she is "dismayed" that "Democrats have knuckled under to the Bush administration for the most part, and have not spoken about issues that are important to individual citizens any more than the Republicans have.
"They have knuckled under under the guise of patriotism, and that is not patriotic, in my mind," she added.
Hart suggested that Democrats lack backbone more than heart.
"I don't think it's a lack of principle," he said. "There is a lack of courage because the courage aspect is standing by those principles when they may not be popular. It's a classic human dilemma...of people who sold their souls for power."
Some in the audience may have found it ironic to hear a speech on principles by a man whose second bid for the presidency was sunk by scandal.
Hart, who came in second to Walter Mondale in the 1984 Democratic presidential primary, was the leading contender in the 1988 primary before his campaign was derailed by scandal.
Shortly after he announced his presidential candidacy in the spring of 1987, the former Colorado senator was plagued with rumors of an extramarital affair and challenged the press to "follow me around."
The subsequent publication of photos of then-29-year-old model Donna Rice seated on Hart's lap aboard the "Monkey Business" yacht led to Hart dropping out of the presidential race.
Southern-born Kathleen Montgomery has lived in Madison for the past 50 years and hopes Hart "will take a very active part in politics now (because) we need people like him."
Montgomery was dismayed by the divisive bitterness of the recent Democratic primary for Wisconsin attorney general between incumbent Peg Lautenschlager and Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
"This is the kind of thing that happens that separates the Democrats in the party," she said. "We need to pull our wagons together. This is the most critical time that I have ever seen in my life in this country."
Attorney Fred Wade is active in the Democratic Party and said he believes that regime change begins at home.
"Democrats ought to support Russ Feingold's censure resolution, they ought to support impeachment, and they ought to use the power of the purse to limit what Bush has been doing," he said.
Isthmus News Editor Bill Lueders said he enjoyed Hart's talk but found nothing new in the "mainstream" message.
"The Democratic Party can burn in hell for all I care," he said. "I think the Democratic Party is the enemy of democracy in America, and that no good can come realistically from within the Democratic Party. I certainly didn't hear anything in Gary Hart's talk that suggested that the party was aggressively moving in bold new directions."
Hart, who ruled out future campaign bids of his own, suggested that the salvation of the Democratic Party will lie in a united party rather than in one dynamic leader.
"In an age of ego, celebrity and personality, there has been an overpowering search for a leader on a white horse, an exciting new candidate who will lead the Democratic Party out of the wilderness," he read from his book.
"Twenty-first-century Democrats cling to the hope of a messiah in the vacant centrist venue where messiahs never appear."
Hart warned against the political tendency to espouse centrist views in order to win votes at the ballot box.
"If it leads a candidate and a party to avoid standing on principle, or showing conviction, or demonstrating courage when it must be shown, then that party risks losing its soul," he said.
Democrats? Principles? Surely you jest.
They have principles? Where'd they steal them?
I am LMAO...and this coming from Gary Hart....stop, your killing me!....hehehehe
Sure, abortion on demand regardless of age. Higher taxes. Caving in to terrorists. More taxes. More entitlements. Of course, more taxes.
Whatwhatwhat? Is he watching the same political scene I am?
LOL! I couldn't get past the title! Go back to the values of the Great Society and New Deal. So much better than being anti-American scumbags and traitors!
Why not just become Republicans?
There is no point in being a Democrat unless you are going to be a liberal wacko.
Dems revisiting their principles is like me visiting my albanian aunt.
Don't have an albanian aunt.
Oh, come now. Gary's just "Speaking Truth to Pow-ah." *SNORT*
It's kind of fun to remember the Dim Bulb never-give-up losers that came before John F. Kerry, ain't it? LOL!
Pro-tax, anti-gun, pro-welfare state, anti-military, pro-abortion, etc.
Democrat principles. Wow, that OXYMORON is going into my collection. The only principle they have is POWER OVER THE PEOPLE as viewed through a hammer and sickle. The rest of it is anti-American, anti-Constitution all the way.
LOL! That didn't take long...
That article should have referred to 'the two-timing presidential candidate"!
BTW, when did Commander Hartpants run for prez after 1987?
A souless individual lecturing a souless party on the value of a soul.