The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Three Point Plan: A Democratic Plan For November Victory

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The 2006 midterm election is a do-or-die affair for the Democratic Party. Win big or face serious marginalization. Demonstrate to swing-voters and the average American that the party is serious about national security, serious about reigning in a culture of Washington corruption, serious about providing political and moral leadership, and committed to popular progressive causes such as Social Security, Medicare reform, and universal health care, or else they further risk the reputation of being out of touch, out of ideas and unelectable.

This author offers a three-point plan for Democratic success:

1. Nationalize the campaign. This is hardly a novel idea, and it was successfully implemented by Gingrich with 1994’s Republican Contract With America. The Democrats however are in far too much disarray over a host of issues to offer their own bold, national policy statements, especially during a Congressional race. The good news is that they don’t need to. They can save their lofty, bold vision for the 2008 Presidential race, once they have a nominee. On the national level, they simply need to focus their energy on turning the campaign into a referendum on Republican failures. Buy prime-time air, and offer short, forceful, and calm (see here (if you’re a subscriber)) critiques of six years worth of Republican failures, with a host of Democratic leaders that command respect, who do not provoke negative sentiment and who are skilled at selling their message wholesale. Barak Obama is a prime candidate (see his speech during the DNC convention, practically brings one to tears on paper alone), but is unlikely to want to tarnish his spotless reputation with partisan shots. That said, the Democrats do need a Gingrich-like spokesperson to spearhead a national campaign of criticism.

There does not need to be a national Democratic position on the war, there simply needs to be a consensus that the Republicans botched it and left our troops in harm’s way, and Iraq in shambles. There need not be a universal Democratic position on any issue, after all the party is a big tent of diverse groups, from students to seniors to labor to bleeding hearts and environmentalists to feminists. Its hard for such diverse groups to exists under one banner and consistently stay on one unified message. The Democratic national message simply needs to be the pervading sense that the Republicans have let the nation down, and we are on the wrong course. Above all, Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean, John Kerry, nor the Congressional Leadership should be allowed anywhere near the national spotlight on behalf of the Democrats. This campaign should be well funded, carefully focus-group tested and come about six weeks before the general election, on prime time network air. It must emphasize the idea that the Republican Party has let down America, left us weaker abroad, and created a far more dangerous world.

2.) Localize positive messages by region or district. All politics is local and each race is different. The Massachusetts’ governor’s race will be in a vastly different political climate than the Democratic attempt to unseat Tom Delay in Sugar Land, Texas. Different messages will be needed in different parts of the country. The Democratic candidates on a local level should not need to go negative; they should simply offer their compelling charismatic personalities, their intellectual honesty and their positive vision for America. In these local races, having compelling, interesting, personable, and articulate candidates who can sell their message on a retail level is far more important than rhetoric on national policy. After all, a good number of voters vote simply on personality alone. Having good candidates, who can offer positive ideas and who can sell themselves to voters on charisma is a huge step. These candidates should be aggressive in responding to Republican attacks, should be careful not to be painted into a corner by false Republican dichotomies, and should be tireless in selling themselves

3.) Excite the progressive and liberal base at the grassroots level. Witnessing drastic, well-publicized failures in 2000, 2002, and 2004, as well as possessing an almost cult-like hatred of the President and his national agenda, which they find appalling, the liberal base of the Democratic Party is bursting with angry energy. The 2004 election found the Republicans brilliantly exploiting the high-profile gay marriage controversy to send their base to the polls. However a repeat of this strategy is likely to be far less effective in this election, as the hysteria over gay marriage is rapidly dying down (recent polls put it at 51% opposed, down from 67% around the 2004 elections). Turnout for midterm elections is usually much lower than Presidential contests, and hovers between 40% and 50% of registered voters, and 40% of the eligible populations. Democrats need to excite the base into a frenzy, and this is where the traditional liberal heroes can step in. Senator Kerry and Mr. Dean maintain active mailing lists, and Mr. Dean’s Fifty-State Canvass idea, announced today, is a novel and worthwhile attempt to recruit volunteers, as is his attempts to build the party up in every single state. However, spending on the base should rank the lowest, and Mr. Dean’s national organization should not take too much away from the national campaigns. The College Democrats should be relentless in running Get-Out-The-Vote drive on campuses, and the AARP and Labor should be brought into the fold, with scores of issues to excite their own constituencies.

In short, this author fully endorses a Democratic Congressional majority. The Republicans have had twelve years in Congress and six in the Oval Office to pursue their vision of smaller government, lower taxes, supply-side economics and personal responsibility. Instead, they have destroyed the surplus, begun dismantling the social safety net, run up record deficits, pursued a reckless and short-sighted foreign policy and have not even begun to address the issues that will seriously threaten America in the long run: energy independence and renewable energy, an effective balance between liberty and security, an effective 21st century foreign policy, immigration reform, education reform, and job outsourcing. On their watch, America has become a slowly sinking ship. The Democrats deserve a chance at the helm.

-E. Desiderius

Relevent Articles:
The Nation: Censuring Censure

Full Disclosure: This author is a possible delegate for a Democratic state gubernatorial convention, a small-time contributor to a local Democratic congressman and to the 2004 Democratic Candidate for President, and supported both the Kerry and Gore campaigns for President. This author also pledges to disclose any and all information that may affect objectivity.

Posted by George Gordon | Thursday, March 23, 2006 | E-mail this post

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