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Manipulating Symbols
By Ed Driscoll · December 16, 2004 12:25 AM · The Holiday That Dare Not Speak Its Name · The New Puritans

Ever since the election, Democrats have been trying to find a way to bridge the gap between the left and the right, and the blue states and the red ones. And to try to and erase the stigma, as Rod Dreher of The Dallas Morning News dubbed them, of being The Godless Party.

Peggy Noonan has an excellent first step:

Always in politics it comes down not to words but to actions. It's not poetry but policy that claims support and wins. Allow me to prove this, for I think I can. I know something the Democratic Party can do right now that will improve its standing and increase its popularity. It can be done this week. Its impact will be quick and measurable.

It is this: Stop the war on religious expression in America. Have Terry McAuliffe come forward and announce that the Democratic Party knows that a small group of radicals continue to try to "scrub" such holidays as Christmas from the public square. They do this while citing the Constitution, but the Constitution does not say it is wrong or impolite to say "Merry Christmas" or illegal to have a crèche in the public square. The Constitution says we have freedom of religion, not from religion. Have Terry McAuliffe announce that from here on in the Democratic Party is on the side of those who want religion in the public square, and the Ten Commandments on the courthouse wall for that matter. Then he should put up a big sign that says "Merry Christmas" on the sidewalk in front of the Democratic National Committee Headquarters on South Capitol Street. The Democratic Party should put itself on the side of Christmas, and Hanukkah, and the fact of transcendent faith.

This would be taking a stand on an issue that roils a lot of people, and believe me those people don't think conservatives are scrubbing America of Christmas, they think it's liberals; and they don't think it's Republicans, they think it's Democrats. Confound them, Terry! Come forward with a stand. It is the stand that is the salvation, not mysterious words or codes or magic messages.

Do this, Democrats. Announce you will apply pressure to antireligious zealots throughout the country. You have nothing to lose but a silly and culturally unhelpful reputation as the party that is hostile to religious expression. What you could gain is respect and gratitude. Pick up that Christmas tree, Terry, take it outside and put a star on top, stand next to it, yell Merry Christmas and ring a bell. That's a manipulation of symbols that would actually make sense.

As David Brooks wrote in June, even if he didn't practice what he preached, Bill Clinton understood how seriously most Americans take religion. Too bad so many others on the left don't--or why it costs them big at the ballot box.



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