Tuesday, July 29, 2003
"The Internet may be giving angry, protest-oriented activists the rope they need to hang the party," wrote Randolph Court in the DLC's bimonthly newsletter, The New Democrat Blueprint.
I sure wish that the Republicans had believed that about talk radio because then we’d hold both houses of congress, the presidency and the courts today.
Dissing the internet’s power to organize and communicate says so much about these guys that I’d written them off even before I read about their latest bone-headed useful idiocy:
“Penn said his polling indicates that since Clinton left office in 2001, more Americans believe Democrats are the party of big government and higher taxes and he said Bush's handling of the war on terrorism has opened up a huge gap with Democrats on who is more trusted on issues of national security.”
Yah think? But, what would anyone expect average Americans to think if all they ever see or hear are Republicans --- who hold all three branches of government and therefore dominate the media? (I won’t even go into the frenzy of Bush worship the country was forced to swallow after 9/11.)
This is the reason we have election campaigns, for gawds sake --- so that there will be a debate and that the people might be educated about what the party out of power has to say. Who knows, they could even learn something important and their opinions could...change!
If all we have to do is measure public opinion a year and a half before the election and assume that these views are written in stone, I hate to remind old Al From, but Bill Clinton wouldn’t have even gotten close to being elected because George HW Bush had a 90% approval rating and Ross Perot was just a Texas freak show.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), the DLC chairman, warned that the party is "at risk of being taken over by the far left." The choice for Democrats, Bayh said, is, "Do we want to vent or do we want to govern?"
Gosh, what a thrill. After reading that brilliant quote, I got to see Bayh and Sean Hannity give each other big slurpy blow jobs right on television – so enthusiastically that even Alan Comes weakly piped up to say that Sean might endorse Ev if he decided to run. They all agreed wholeheartedly that the problem with the Democrats is that they just don't support President Codpiece heartily enough.
But, you know, I’m just a little bit skeptical of campaign advice from the likes of Sean Hannity. Call me crazy, but I don’t think he has the best interest of the Democratic party in mind. You'd think that Evan would wonder about that, too...
It seems that by the DLC’s calculation, the “far left” doesn’t consist of Green party members or anti-globalization protestors or radical groups like Earth First and Peta. According to them, middle aged, middle class Democrats like me who enthusiastically backed charter DLC favorite sons Clinton and Gore in 3 successive presidential elections, supported the wars in Kosovo and in Afghanistan, aren’t fond of bureaucrats whether they work for government or the corporations, respect the need to curb long term deficit spending and come down on the side of the CATO institute as much as the ACLU when it comes to civil liberties…are now “far left.”
This is a terrible misconception and one that will indeed “hang the party” because these guys are not only out of touch with their own party, they are obviously delusional about the opposition. They don’t recognize that the political landscape has completely changed since 1985 when the DLC was created and 1992 when it reached its zenith of power. In 2004 it is losing its relevance to many Democrats, not because of a difference in policy but because it has failed to recognize that while they have not changed, the Republican Party has undergone a complete metamorphosis. They do not seem to understand that when the competition completely changes strategy, you must be prepared to change strategy as well.
The Republican Party of George W. Bush is fundamentally different than the Party of George H.W. Bush. They are playing a form of political hardball that is completely unresponsive to the cooperative, consensus style politics that characterizes the DLC. They will not budge on policy and when it comes to tactics they are knife wielding thugs.
Dean’s early success isn’t about liberal spending programs and “far left” hatred for Junior. It’s about opening your eyes and seeing what is right in front of your face --- a dangerously radical Republican party that simply will not compromise or deal fairly.
The DLC is still saying exactly what they said back in 1985, (which should be terribly embarrassing because it indicates that they have failed spectacularly to change the party’s image.) The truth is that they succeeded quite well at first, but the result was a GOP that saw the Democrats moving their way and seized the opportunity to move the goalposts ever further to the right and also become more aggressive and hostile. They did not meet us in the middle, guys, they just kept on going in the direction they wanted to go anyway.
And they lost all compunction about tarring the opposition with outright lies and character assassination.
The fact is that it does not matter if our candidate actually supported the war in Iraq or not. If John Kerry is the nominee rather than Howard Dean, do they actually believe that the Republicans will not find a way to portray him as soft on national security? Please.
It. Does. Not. Matter. What. We. Actually. Do.
We could sign on to a 0% tax rate for millionaires, repeal of Social Security, prison terms for homosexuality and oil rigs in the middle of San Francisco Bay and they would still say we are liberal, tax and spend, tree hugging, treasonous pacifists because it is in their interest to do so. Until we stop tugging our forelocks and sniveling around like beaten dogs, thereby validating their lies, they will be believed by a fair number of Americans. People who turn the other cheek when they are being unfairly and relentlessly attacked are either saints or pussies ... and the DLC aren’t saints.
The way to change the Republican propaganda-created perception that the Democratic Party is a bunch of namby pamby, liberal, pacifist big spenders is to FIGHT BACK.
We should attack the other side with righteous indignation and illuminate for the American people the fact that George W. Bush’s GOP is radical and out of touch with America’s values. (This also has the virtue of being true.) In the hands of a skilled politician this can be done without sounding “shrill” or “hysterical”, but rather strong, reassuring and commonsensical.
Many Americans have a feeling that something is going badly wrong. The media is confusing and sensational. It’s difficult to cut through the muddy and garbled ever-changing story to get a clear sense of what exactly is causing this discomfort. The Republicans are very effective at offering a comforting narrative of strength and tradition.
But, it is the job of the Democrats to rightly identify the source of this existential unease as emanating directly from the White House and the man whom everybody knows, deep in their heart, was not qualified for the job. The Dems need to be unequivocal in their opposition to this presidency, because there is not even one small identifiable aspect of it that is in keeping with traditional Democratic values (despite Evan Bayh’s evident nostalgia for the ever so successful foreign policy of Lyndon Johnson). The working, taxpaying, regular folk of the “far left,” notwithstanding, if the Democrat can articulate this case with passion and authority, he might be able to show a few of the mushy middle that the real crazies these days are on the right --- which is the truth.
Most importantly, they need to articulate the difference between the parties, not the similarities. By attacking the Bush administration’s radical and mendacious agenda, while promoting the Democratic policies of engaged multilateralism and support for international institutions, as well as common sense tax and social spending policies and respect for civil liberties, I think it’s entirely possible that many Americans will see things our way.
Politicians, after all, are not only supposed to figure out what the people want and give it to them. They are supposed to convince the people that they want what the politicians have to give.
The Republicans have managed to persuade large numbers of middle class people that the rich not only have no obligation to ensure the continuation of the stable, decent society that enables their wealth, but that the average working stiff does. If they can do that, then surely we Democrats can educate Americans to the fact that allowing Bush and his ivory tower, think-tank radicals to turn this country into an Imperial banana republic is likely to result in a reduction in their standard of living.
The DLC has losttouch with the zeitgeist. They are as irrelevant today as the SDS.
digby 7/29/2003 08:11:00 PM