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  xThursday, July 31, 2003

the dlc flap


Here's another recent development I'm a little late in expressing my umbrage over. As part of their apparent quest to ensure a permanent Republican majority, the so-called Democratic Leadership Committee informed all and sundry that in order to enjoy electoral success, Democrats must become Republicans.

(Of course, even Democrats-turned-Republicans would be more moderate than the gang of radicals running the White House, but I digress...)

I'm sure this dust-up delights many on the Right, but: Horse manure.

The problems aren't with the Democrats' policies, but with the public's perception of them. And conceding that the other side is right won't do anything to dispel that perception.

For Ford's sake, the DLC practically conceded that Bush is better at nation security, a premise I don't believe for a picosecond. Yes, the Democratic candidate needs to be strong on defense. No, Bush's dangerous combination of arrogance and trigger-happiness doesn't make us a whit safer.

Digby's (somewhat profane) response is spot-on:

I'd point out at this point that by perceiving the disconnect between Bush's rhetoric and the reality, public perception seems to be changing without much help from the Democrats. Quick quiz: Which tactic would increase that Democratic advantage, pointing out that Bush's policies are bad or agreeing with them? Sheesh!
...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 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 p[_]ssies ... 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 lost touch with the zeitgeist. They are as irrelevant today as the SDS.


To The Barricades! reminds us that regardless of which candidates we favor, the goal of Democrats (and anyone not caught up in the radical PNAC/Grover Norquist/Tom Delay insanity that seems to grip the radical Republicans) should be to ensure that Bush becomes the only President who was never elected. And via TTB!, we find excellent analysis (and further linkage) at Liberal Oasis. Daily Kos, Eschaton, Interesting Times, Not Geniuses, and Matthew Yglesias opine as well.





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