Rep. Harold Ford Jr. (D-TN) has a good piece in today's Washington Post entitled "Keeping the Progress Going". While he doesn't have anything particularly groundbreaking to say, I was impressed with the moderate, constructive position he stakes out on a number of issues. Considering he lost out to Nancy Pelosi for the Democrats' House leadership position, I can only imagine the different position the part would be in had his agenda been in place. After all, on one hand you have the Bush administration, detached from some of the harsh realities of war and diplomacy as well as the need to respect constitutional authority at home. On the other hand, you have the Democratic party leadership of Reid and Pelosi who operate reflexively against Bush and the Republicans without offering any constructive solutions of their own.
Ford is a realist. He acknowledges progress in Afghanistan and Iraq and rejects the idea of some of his Democratic colleagues that American troops should return home immediately. Says Ford, "I want the troops home as much as anyone, but having to send another generation to that region to fight 10 or more years from now because we left too early would be a worse outcome than the situation we now face. We need to do this right the first time." Amen, brother.
His platform includes a call for Bush to end his controversial domestic spying program ("We are a nation of laws. We cannot be in the business of exporting democracy and liberty if we cannot protect it at home.") Yet Ford does not deny the president the authority needed to protect national security; he just suggests that legislation in Congress create the necessary adjustments to the current system.
Ford's also puts in a call for an increased commitment to improved foreign relations. That in itself is a generic sentiment, but I was pleasantly surprised that his affirmation of the U.N. contained a push for reform of that organization--an idea that is a staple of the right-wing.
Why aren't more Democrats putting forth definitive positions and constructive ideas instead of engaging in endless partisan sniping or self-aggrandization? Ford is running for the Senate in 2006; I hope he succeeds. The Democratic Party, if it wants the public to realize that it stands for something, should be promoting more intelligent voices like Harold Ford's. He shows us there is a viable middle ground between caving to the Bush administration and the hysteria of the extreme left-wing.