10/13/2008 01:30 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Energizing Our Core

I've always said that as a vegan, I try not to eat anything that would run away from me. But the truth is that while watching the Republican convention last week, I found myself becoming a little envious of all the political "red meat" that was getting thrown to that party's faithful. Of course I consider the Republicans' convention diet -- a big helping of fear, distrust and divisiveness served with a side of lies -- about as appetizing as a greasy Big Mac. But whatever discomfort I felt with the Republicans' message, I still couldn't help but notice how that meat seemed to have energized and motivated many of the delegates.

So as we enter the homestretch of this election, I want to encourage the Democratic Party to keep its' core similarly well fed -- albeit on a much healthier, positive and uplifting diet. Because while there might be real truth to the theory that this election will come down to who can win over America's uncommitted center, I still feel it would be a serious mistake to let our own core get too hungry.

In our quest to win over the center, let's not marginalize the beautiful coalition that brought us to this moment in the first place -- the young people inspired by a message of hope and change, the hip-hop nation, the peaceniks, the tree-huggers and those truly concerned about the plight of poor people. These people might occupy a space a little left of center, but they still have real power through their numbers. Remember, while Governor Palin might be the current flavor of the month, there are still more moms out there carrying yoga mats than hockey sticks. I understand that over 30 million people visited Oprah's website to learn about Eckhart Tolle's A New Earth. That means there are over 30 million Americans who are more interested in expanding their consciousness than looking to expand our troop presence in Iraq. Governor Palin might have energized the NRA crowd with her tales of bear hunting, but I know that there are also millions of members of the Humane Society and PETA who were just as disturbed by her heartless attitude towards animals.

And by sharing those messages, we will truly energize our base. Because our base, if properly engaged, will get out there and knock on the doors, that will make the 25 dollar donations, register new voters and drive people to the polls on Election Day. We're going to ask so much from them, and I'm confident they're going to deliver. If we keep our base energized, I believe people will come out in huge, record breaking numbers on November 4th. But in order to ensure their commitment, we need to keep feeding them their inspiration.

I concede that there is a lot of wisdom in appealing to the center at this stage of the game. But I also believe that there are still smaller opportunities out there to keep our more progressive wing engaged and energized. To talk about the need to reform our drug laws. To talk about the need to break our addiction to oil. To talk about the blood the NRA and the gun manufacturers have on their hands. To talk about the fact that almost twice as many Americans were killed in Chicago this summer as in Iraq over the same period. And even to talk about an issue that is admittedly not on most people's radar, but that is very close to my heart these days: how we contribute to the abuse of nine billion farm animals. To let people know that not only does our treatment of farm animals make us physically ill and create incredibly bad karma for humankind, but it also is a huge source of global warming, a source that far outweighs all forms of transportation put together. That's why it would be so beautiful for Americans to hear that even eating just one less hamburger a week would have an incredibly positive impact on how we feel and how we live. Again, I understand that this is far from a centrist message. But I'm still hungry for it. And I think I'm not alone.

I'm not looking for a big public hug for the progressives right now. I realize that might be too much at this stage of the game. I guess all I'm really asking for from the Democratic leadership is a little wink and nudge. Just to let us know you still love us. Because we still love you.