Our 2016 Democratic Party Platform states that,
“Democrats believe that cooperation is better than conflict, unity is better than division, empowerment is better than resentment, and bridges are better than walls.”
It goes on to say that,
“As Democrats, we respect differences of perspective and belief, and pledge to work together to move this country forward, even when we disagree. With this platform, we do not merely seek common ground—we strive to reach higher ground.”
Now anyone paying any attention at all knows that we are not united. There are factions nationally and locally. I think the perception is that the divide is between "Establishment Democrats," and the "Berniecrats," or what I think of as the liberal/progressive and the even more liberal/progressive factions.
But I believe it's more than that. I believe there's a new energy within the younger generation driving towards a different philosophy of governing -- of creating a more perfect union. These young people have a fire in the belly and there are those in the Party who worry that rather than building up to reach higher ground, those with fire will burn the Party to the ground.
How we harness this new energy, how we deal with our differences, how we treat one another, will determine how successful we are in winning back our political power.
We can start by agreeing to rules of conduct,* which at first blush, seem simple common sense, but are surprisingly difficult to sustain in practice:
- Model inclusion, respect and fairness in all our actions
- Be open and above-board in all that we do — no hidden agendas
- Be courteous, patient and civil
- Keep emotions in check
- Respect other’s points of view
- Assume opponents have positive intentions
- Don’t take things personally
- Identify problems, propose solutions
- Understand before disagreeing, and disagree without being disagreeable
- Remember we are all neighbors and community members
*These rules of conduct have come from a variety of sources, including remarks by former President Barack Obama, and from Indivisible Washington.