2004/11/13

Some Democrats look wistfully to old, tired solutions

Now we have a group calling itself Third Way that seeks to re-create the glorious days of....well, Democrats ever since Democrats undercut and finked out on George McGovern back in 1972. Democrats grudgingly supported Jimmy Carter's presidency and yes, Clinton's was more-or-less a success, but as Republicans never tire of (correctly) pointing out, Clinton was a minority president who would have lost to either the Bush I-Perot combination or the Dole-Perot combination. Clinton's running the country sans a strong mandate meant that we progressives couldn't mount the defense of "We have to leave this Monica Lewinsky/Whitewater/Paula Jones nonsense aside and get back to the important issue." There were simply no compelling issues that Clinton had been pushing that we could seized upon.
The Third Way is a group pushing a tired, worn-out, exhausted set of ideas that proved themselves utterly incapable of succeeding in the midterm election of 2002. Electorally, Democrats didn't do much better in 2004, but at least in the last election, there was a real spirit and determination that the Democratic had never managed to summon forth in all the years since McGovern.

The following is a part of the letter I wrote to my incoming Congressperson Allyson Schwartz:

General recommendation on overall strategy for the next several years: I noticed with dismay that Al From of the Democratic Leadership Council is calling for Democrats to go backwards and to use his old 1990's Clintonian strategy of Triangulation. This was a perfectly adequate strategy for its time, but it miserably failed in the Congressional mid-term election of 2002 and is highly unlikely to be successful ever again.



The major problem with it is the rise of what we call the Republican Noise Machine, composed of. Fox News, the Washington Times, conservative bloggers, radio commentators, etc. Since the years when this machine forced the impeachment of President Clinton, it's only gotten louder and stronger. In order for a Democratic president to get anything done during all the noise, he'll need a Democratic machine of equal strength and intensity. Obviously, being lefties and liberals and progressives and Democrats, we're a lot more comfortable with telling the truth and being fair. Simply using a lot of invective or making unsubstantiated charges has no appeal for us. To use the military term, someone suggested that liberal bloggers, Air America, etc., could act as skirmishers. When we see a wild accusation arise on the Drudge Report or hear something on Rush Limbaugh, we can jump on it immediately and force the mainstream news media people to deal with both the initial report and the Democratic challenge to it in the same news cycle.

We can get the skirmishers to be taken seriously as Democratic spokespeople by having Democratic Party officials say things like “Well, as the blogger Atrios said...” or “As the Air America radio announcer Jeaneane Garofalo pointed out...”



In order for the skirmishers to be successful, the one thing we liberal citizens need is consistency from the Democratic leadership. We need to know that the position on, say, sanctions on Cuba is not going to change with every passing shift in the breeze. We need to know that the party position on gun control is consistent with what the party said a year ago. The Al From Triangulation strategy requires far too many twists and turns and reversals and backflips for anybody to follow with any success. We skirmishers have to have the feeling that every strategy has some real thought behind it and we have to have some idea as to what that thought is.



Terry McAuliffe of the Democratic National Committee has done a perfectly adequate job as a financial guy, but the campaign of 2004 shows us that money will take care of itself if the overall strategy is sound. I heard that Howard Dean is being recommended as the replacement for McAuliffe. I think that's a great idea! Let's replace the financial guy with the message guy!


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