Norman Sisisky on Principles & Values
Former Democratic Representative (VA-4)
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Such factors as religious service attendance, belief, practice, familiarity with doctrine, belief in certain creeds, etc., may be important to sociologists, religious leaders, and others. But these are measures of religiosity and are usually not used academically to define a person’s membership in a particular religion. It is important to recognize there are various levels of adherence, or membership within religious traditions or religious bodies. There’s no single definition, and sources of adherent statistics do not always make it clear what definition they are using.
The 32 conservative and moderate Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition hail from every region of the country, although the group acknowledges some southern ancestry which accounts for the group’s nickname. Taken from the South’s longtime description of a party loyalist as one who would vote for a yellow dog if it were on the ballot as a Democrat, the “Blue Dog” moniker was taken by members of The Coalition because their moderate-to-conservative-views had been “choked blue” by their party in the years leading up to the 1994 election.
The Coalition was formed in the 104th Congress as a common sense, bridge-building voice. Since then, the Blue Dogs have successfully injected a moderate viewpoint into the Democratic Caucus. The continuing political success of “Blue Pups” in the 1998 and 2000 elections points to the public’s approval of the centrist, fiscally responsible message represented by The Coalition.
The Coalition has been particularly active on fiscal issues, relentlessly pursuing a balanced budget and then protecting that achievement from politically popular “raids” on the budget.
The Coalition’s proposals on welfare reforms served as middle-ground markers which laid the foundation for the bipartisanship necessary to bring about fundamental reforms, and helped set into law policies reflecting the “common sense, conservative compassion” so often attached to the group’s efforts.
In the 107th Congress, the Coalition intends to continue to make a difference in Congress by forging middle-ground, bipartisan answers to the current challenges facing the Country. A top priority will be to finish the job of truly balancing the budget without counting the Social Security trust funds. Other early efforts will include campaign finance reform, strengthening Social Security, and health care reform. The group also expects to be involved in education, regulatory reform, taxes, defense and veterans affairs.
When one reads accounts of Jews in American politics, the common theme is that Jews have achieved prominence in art, literature, academia, certain businesses, and entertainment, but not in politics or government. The Jewish politician was the exception, not the rule.
In the last third of the 20th century, however, that pattern changed. By 2000, Jews had become as prominent in the political realm as they have been in other aspects of American life. And Jewish participation is accepted for the contributions these activists make, not because of their Jewishness. Nothing could symbolize this trend more cogently than the nomination of Joseph Lieberman for vice president in 2000 and the national reaction to his candidacy. [Lieberman says]:
Although politics was not exactly a Jewish profession, individual Jews did throw themsleves into the democratic process. Some were traditional politicians; others machine politicians. Many more, such as Emma Goldman and the radicals of the early 20th century, were inspired by the ideal that they had a duty to repair the world—Tikkun Olam.[This book] provides brief biographical sketches for more than 400 Jews who have played prominent roles in American political life. The roster provides much of the basic information that we felt was previously lacking in one place.
Many reasons account for the broader representation of Jews in American civic life today. The forces of antisemitism have been relegated to the extreme margins of society, the principle of meritocracy has increasingly opened the doors of opportunity. Moreover, the idealism and purpose that were spawned by the movements for civil rights, opposition to the war in Vietnam, environmentalism, and other causes drew many Jewish Americans into the political arena. Jews are admonished tp help perfect the world by the ancient wisdom of Rabbi Tarfon, who tells us, “You are not required to complete the task, yet you are not free to withdaw from it.”
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NY-25:Ann Marie Buerkle