12.11.2005 | New Dem buzz word: 'community'

A sense of community. What better non-partisan way of communicating what's wrong with America today. Or as Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois put it, "striking a balance between individual and collective responsibility." He equated the GOP's plans for privatizing Social Security and an "ownership society" as "social Darwinism," probably the most stinging indictment I've yet heard of the GOP's policies – and not a moment too soon.

Really that's what it's all about: leaving people to fend for themselves. Social conservatives, who subscribe to the rags-to-riches gospel of laissez-faire capitalism, have been yearning for decades to end the semi-socialist policies of FDR's New Deal, Social Security among them. The code words of "ownership society" and "personal accounts" are just lipstick on a pig, "reform" intended to disguise the policy for what it really is: turning the clock back on a century of social progress.

It's interesting that, in searching for a message, Democrats have settled on the idea of community. After George Lakoff's call for progressives to frame their issues, progressives have been calling for a community or "strong community" theme. In this time when most Americans believe America is on the wrong track and 40 percent of children no longer believe in the American dream (I could be counted among those), maybe a sense of community is just the thing we need.

Update (12/13/05): Obama's description of the GOP's policies as "Social Darwinism" has earned its own headline.



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