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April 26, 2006


And come September, there had better be a clearer message from Democrats than we have now.

True enough, but I think it's clarifying.

The negative parts, predictably enough, are coming together first. Incompetence and corruption seem to be the winning themes, with their associations of greed, cronyism, secrecy, being the tools of business, not caring about ordinary Americans, general divisiveness and nastiness, etc.

There are a lot of positive ideas and slogans too; I think the only difficulty is that there are SO many of them, a dozen or more lists of 5 or 6 or 7 points. If the leadership can narrow it down to a Contract-With-America-esque list of 5 or 6 or 7 that everybody agrees to speak from, then they've got a pretty solid platform.

So, attention, please, Nancy and Harry and Howard: get together in a smoke-free room with good feng shui and a decent Chardonnay and some whole-grain crackers and organic cheese and GET IT TOGETHER. Pull the list together, get it out to everybody's fax machine, and make a bloody example of a couple of people who refuse to toe the line.

It's worked for the Repugs, and we don't need to be nearly as polished or lock-step as they are, because we're starting with such a big advantage. Just a little discipline, and we can actually not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

There seems to be a conflict between the policyists--things like inspect 100% of cargo, fund No Child Left Behind, ethics reform--and the visionaries--things like move toward universal health care, sustainable energy and environmental programs etc. I think the latter is what we need, but perhaps only a single individual and not a committee can come up with a vision. If that's the case, we should stick with ratchet down the war with Iraq and the war talk; make the tax code fairer; make health care more portable and more widely available; fund alternative technologies and reward sustainable resource use not extraction of unrenewables.

There needs to be a promise and a presumption that a Dem Congress needs more comity, more reaching out to the other side. That has to be clear before the election. The American voter wants grown-ups in DC for a change. That's important to people.

That doesn't preclude subpoenas. ;-)

DemFromCT: I agree with some of that, but not all of it.

Yes on grown-ups, but grown-ups who are responsible with power and try to solve problems. A necessary part of that is a message with at least some positive parts, an element on which I think everybody agrees.

But No on reaching out to the other side. Grown-ups are reasonable, but they also know when enough is enough. Turning the other cheek again and again and again is asking to be stomped by the bullies, and it leaves you looking weak. At a certain point, you stand up for what you believe, and if that means doing battle with the Forces of Evil, then battle it is, amen.

Events have the Republicans on the ropes. And pretty much their only option is to lash out wildly, dividing and inflaming, using fear and anger. It's already a standard prediction: an epidemic of flag-burning gays, led by Hillary and the feminazis, opening our borders to jihadists and other scary brown people.

The correct response to that is not kumbaya. The correct response is a crisp stinging whip to the muzzle.

I think if we articulate a clear, positive vision that is clearly distinct from the evil of the Republicans -- and doesn't shrink from calling it that -- we'll have the audience cheering for the white hats.

And if that means punching out the black hats, or even gunning them down, well, that's how the West was won.

The correct response is a crisp stinging whip to the muzzle.

I don't think that will aid getting elected.

Which one or two of the following reasons best describe why you disapprove of the job Congress is doing? (IF MORE THAN TWO, ASK:) Well if you had to choose just one or two, which would they be?


You are tired of Republicans and Democrats fighting with each other 44

Nothing seems to get done on issues that are important to you 36

Too many Members of Congress are corrupt and unethical 34
Congress simply goes along with whatever President Bush wants done 22
You disagree with specific legislation that Congress has passed 12

"But what they hate most is political bickering...Still, this is a Republican government, and this is an indictment of Republican policies. Democrats will do their best to remind people of that every day between now and November."

As an anecdote, was drinking a beer at a bar earlier and sounded out a stranger, asked: this country, right direction wrong direction...asked why he said wrong, bickering between politicos was one of the ideas that seemed most obvious to him. I went through the whole oversight, perhaps most important election, rubber stamp legislature etc, and the dude was pretty receptive. Didn't ask his party, just aired some grievance. I think a lot of people got grievances today, and it's just a matter of getting them to send a message with their vote.

After the failure of 2004, it isn't much of an exaggeration to say this is the most important election cycle of my life...and that makes it's easy to be earnest.

Thanks for the post, DemFromCT. I'm not worried about the number of people who chose the response "tired of Republicans and Democrats fighting with each other". It's an easy choice to make and doesn't require any thought ;-)

For 20 years, voters and non-voters alike have often complained about the bickering in Congress. If you ask non-voters why they don't vote, in general you'll hear that their vote doesn't matter and that nothing will change and then you'll hear about how all that the Democrats and Republicans do is bicker. It's the standard reflexive answer.

It might perhaps mean more if the Democrats controlled one branch of government. But since the Republicans controll all the branches of government and can pass legislation with Republican votes alone, then how are Democrats to blame for nothing getting done? ;-) I haven't noticed much Democrat obstruction of legislation. In fact, there's been way too little of it. ;-)

I agree with you, though, that it's important to have a well-articulated message on why people should vote for the Democrats this November. It's the Democrats best opportunity in perhaps a generation.

I am really afraid of a National Democratic theme articulated too soon. Please realize some states are still doing conventions and nominations and all -- and we should reserve the National Theme for the fall, when the candidates are nominated, the money is raised, and the organizations are in place. Mid-terms are essentially state and local races and it does not help candidates relating to local characteristics to shove them too soon into a national theme.

On the other hand there is nothing wrong with Dean and other national figures recognizing the sour mood and pointing to causes. But they need to do it in a way that does not force local candidates to run on some sort of cooked up national platform or set of slogans which may not appeal in local areas. We need to be following local races that might represent party swings -- if we do that, then we'll comprehend how you have to fit the candidate and the campaign to the district.

Sara, not to worry. Unlike us, the public really doesn't pay attention until Labor Day (although, they will pay attention to gas prices on Memorial Day).

The GOP "culture of corruption" theme is going to be heavily reinforced in the public mind come September 1 and the first anniversary of Katrina, when , I'm willing to bet, a slew of reports will come out showing vast amounts of graft, wastage and incompetence in FEMA and the DHS. Hell, they're still finding bodies in New Orleans, 10 months after the event. The only strategy the Republicans have for countering this is to competently handle any hurricanes that happen this season, but what are the odds of that happening?

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