News Release

20 Leading Democrats Urge Party to “Get Back on Offense”


Worried about Democratic congressional prospects this fall, 20 prominent Democrats sent an open letter — available at — to the Democratic Congressional leadership urging that they “get back on offense” by exposing the GOP as “more extreme than mainstream” and proposing a “positive program of ‘Progressive Patriotism.'”

The letter went to 10 party leaders including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and DCCC chair Steve Israel, and was signed by, among others, Norman Lear, Robert Reich, Sen. Gary Hart, Mark Green, Jennifer Granholm, Eliot Spitzer, Jim Hightower, David Dinkins, Ron Reagan and James Galbraith.

Letter organizer and signer Mark Green, former NYC public advocate, explained the group’s premise: “We think it’s crazy that reactionary Republicans can pretend to save the damsel in distress when they tied her to the tracks in the first place. Instead of only responding to the river of lies flowing out of Tampa, aggressive progressives need to fundamentally reframe the choices and offer a positive vision that can help congressional Democrats both win and govern.”

The 20 Democrats urged “Democratic Party leaders to hit the gas not the brakes and show leadership in at least three ways:”

* Frames: “Let’s reframe issues so that platitudes and metaphors don’t pass for analysis. Recall when southern racists of both parties would argue that they were only defending property rights and state rights? Today, it’s CEOs and their apologists arguing that they are just champions of the first amendment when arguing that unlimited money is speech and corporations are people. …”

* Record: “A weekly RepublicanReignofError could explain what would happen if those running on a right-wing-and-a-prayer actually got their way. Not just facts but stories: nieces without Pell Grants; class sizes of 50; women being criminally prosecuted for abortions; free riders overwhelming hospital emergency rooms; sea levels flooding coastal downtowns. Not many independent voters want that. …”

*Ideas. “Among the things that make Democrats exceptional is FDR’s axiom that we pursue ‘bold, persistent experimentation.’ Where are the successors to Social Security, GI Bill, the Americans with Disabilities Act? To help Democrats win and govern, what can be our positive mandate?”

Three of the the letter-signers are available for a limited number of interviews:

MARK GREEN, [email]
JIM HIGHTOWER, via Laura Ehrlich [email]
Green is former consumer commissioner and public advocate for New York City and was also president of Air America. Hightower is former elected commissioner of the Texas Department of Agriculture and is now editor of The Hightower Lowdown. Johnson was a commissioner of the FCC and now teaches at the University of Iowa College of Law.