Thursday, May 12, 2005

Democrats and Jesus in Sioux Falls

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I'm supposed to like this. The billboard is a project of Grassroots Democrats in Sioux Fall, South Dakota. Executive Director Roger Berggren explained, it speaks "to those Christian progressives that have spent the last two years walking though church seeing James Dobson fliers and hearing their Priests and Ministers tell them they cannot be a good Christian and a good Democrat at the same time." I can empathize with the yearning to reclaim their faith from political rivals they believe misuse it as a weapon. Grassroots Democrats is not the state party; it consists of ordinary people who contributed small amounts of money to come up with the $1000 for the sign.

I have to like the citizen energy that got this up. I do believe that "Jesus cares for the poor" (and everybody else, even Republicans, too.) But the billboard just doesn't sit right.

For starters, they needed proof-reading and editing. How about this:

Jesus Cares for the Poor.

So Do We.

Yes, grammar and appearance do matter, as anyone who remembers the early days of "desktop publishing" should have learned. Remember when we suddenly were able to draw ovals?

And then there is the slogan: "Democrats Make America Stronger." Don't imagine Jesus cares about (or for) that at all, though I guess I know what they mean. They want people to know their policies aim to build up their community, not tear it down. Good sentiment, though the way they say it buys into the current US security-through-world-domination fantasy.

Eventually Democrats are going have to win this contest of ideas another way -- mostly by showing, not telling. Democratic office holders have to lead with policies that actually do care for the poor. Democratic candidates have to promise what they can really deliver and explain why they can't deliver everything. They have to treat the electorate as smart and responsible.

Don't know if that is what Jesus wants, but I am confident He wouldn't be against it.

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