Monday, November 14, 2005



"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America - there's the United States of America. "
-Barack Obama, Democratic Senator of Illinois

Some of the widely discussed reasons as to why John Kerry lost the 2004 election include: no solid and defined vision, no explicable alternatives to Bush's war in Iraq, utterly lacking in message discipline, etc, etc, etc. Many will opine that swing voters felt George Bush appeared to have "stronger leadership qualities". Chris Suellentrop said it best at SLATE, "Vision without details beats details without vision. President Bush put forward a powerful and compelling philosophy of what the government should do at home and abroad: Expand liberty."

Now, while I personally believe that Bush's "compelling philosophy" is both childish and perverted, he at least is able to define what he wants point by point by point. I know that sounds simplistic but, as history shows, it works and it sells. So who in the Democratic Party is trying to rectify this? Who are the Democratic leaders? For a while, during Plamegate and the Hurricane Katrina debacle, everyone seemed to be asking, "Where are the Democrats?" Well, here they are:

1) Howard Dean, Democratic National Chairman. I was a "Deaniac" way back when and even own a "Dean For America" t-shirt. But, it's now my opinion that this guy needs to go. He misrepresents the Democratic Party by painting an angry and bitter image and is truly holding the Party back at this very crucial stage in politics. The Washington Post reported that party fundraising since Dean took over as chairman are HALF of those of the Republicans. Critics blame Dean directly, and so do I. Here are some quotes from Dr. Dean and I think they prove my point:

-He called Republicans "a pretty monolithic party. They all behave the same. They all look the same. It's pretty much a white Christian party." (While maybe statistically true, it comes off as extremely crass and immature.)

-"I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for...This is a struggle between good and evil and we're the good." (How is this different from Bush's "You're either with us or with the enemy"?

-He stated that Republicans "never made an honest living in their lives," (This is such an absurd and lazy statement.)

This is a good link of reference for the quotes. (SF CHRONICLE)

Now why he may elude to some truth in his comments, it paints the wrong picture of the Democratic Party and Republicans rejoice that he is in the position he is in. "I'm thrilled he's the DNC chair," says Tom Del Becarro, chairman of the Contra Costa County Republican Party. "Howard Dean is scaring away the middle. People don't like angry people. They like hopeful people.''

BOTTOM LINE: Civil discourse works. The American people don't like angry name-callers. The Democratic Party is better than that. Dean needs to go.(And did you see him flake out of that debate with the RNC Chair on "Meet The Press"? Jeez...)

Ok, that said, Dean is surely to be credited for "electrifying" the Democrats in early 2004. At a grassroots level, he inspired hundreds and hundreds of people to roll up their sleeves and get to work. He did this with raw passion and unrelenting energy. And those 2 qualities are a neccessity for the party to survive.

I believe the following Democratic leaders have the potential to continue the current momentum:

2) Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader. "His move to put the Senate into closed session"officially put the Democrats on the offensive. He said "Here we are." to all those asking, "Where are the Democrats?" The stereotype of Democrats being inactive or benign was suddenly shattered. This motion was widely applauded by those against the war in Iraq and it added to the mounting political pressure on the Bush Administration.

One of his famous quotes is: ""I would always rather dance than fight but I know how to fight.""

3) Hillary Clinton, Senator from New York. I'll say it: "She's going to be the Democratic Presidential Nominee in 2008." That is, unless, she has a "Dean Scream Moment" between now and then. My opinion is that she won't, though. She's smart, she's savvy, and she's damn powerful. Democrats need to prepare for this possibility right now. That means a MESSAGE. Demos need to be all singing in the same key right now. And the song needs to be original and refreshing. I don't know why this is so hard. But, there's a developing hope (see "Rahm Emanuel" below)."An article in this week's TIME" refers to Democrats as "Happy Warriors". That's what I think Clinton is, a happy warrior. She carries the nostalgia of her husband's charisma and yet creates a brand new image for America... a woman president. Oh, God! It'll be a beautful moment.

4) Rahm Emanuel, Congressman from Illinois. This guy blew the minds of Republicans when he went on "Meet The Press" and laid out 4 specific things the Democrats will emphasize in 2006:

A. universal college education B. universal health care for anyone who works C.bringing down the national debt D.cutting U.S. dependence on foreign oil in half within a decade.

Emanuel is a real postitive force for the Democrats; well spoken and organized in thought, passionate and visionary, and seemingly unintimidated. "ROLLING STONE calls him "The Enforcer"." Just watch, he's going to help raise the Democrats to power in 2006.

5) Barack Obama, Senator from Illinois and Barbara Boxer, Senator from California. These two, with Rahm Emanuel, should be used more for Democratic Public Relations. Obama and Boxer are both simply good people. They are both courteous and civil in their discussions, yet intelligent and succint. They create such a postive image of the Democratic Party and they should be urged to speak out more; have debates with Republicans on Cable News and do interviews whenever possible. Not one Republican would win against them. We saw Boxer tear into Condi Rice and we saw Obama completely smash Alan Keyes in 2004. Both Obama and Boxer were recently on "The Daily Show" and came off just beautifully. Both seem to idenitfy with the younger demographic (especially Obama) in America and I strongly believe they should be utilized more often to help energize this often forgotten crowd of young people.

BOTTOM LINE: The Democrats need to define 5-6 "figureheads" within the party and get them to be outspoken. All within the party need to be speaking "in harmony" about specific plans and alternative to the Bush Administration (i.e. Rahm Emanuel). Limit overkill of Delay, Rove, Libby criticism; it could get annoying and whiny real soon. Be ORIGINAL! Be POSITIVE! Be OPTIMISTIC!...

...TO BE CONTINUED tomorrow with Bryan's piece, "THE MESSAGE".



Bob said...

While teh DNC's fundraiing is HALF if the RNC's under Dean's watch, it's a misleading statement.

You see, before Dean took over, the DNC numbers were about A THIRD of the RNC numbers.

We are always going to be behind in money.


y-intercept said...

You are hitting a big nail on the head with this post. We keep seeing some sort of strange "personality flaws" in Democratic candidates.

IMHO, the thing that is really killing us is not the personality flaws, but the method of discourse. History has shown that people can have all sorts of quirks, and still engage in positive discourse.

Both the Neocon side of the Republican Party and the "Progressive" side of the Democratic party have pretty much denied all of the fundamentals of quality discourse. The sad result is that we are now in a Chomskian world where politicians try to sway opinion with propaganda, back stabbing and backbiting.

Sadly, even Barack Obama has been playing this game. His democratic convention speach gave me hope that the guy would lead Democratics out of their current mallaise. Unfortunately, subsequent speaches seem to be falling into the same sniping pattern as Dean.

Personally, I think the problem with the Democratic Party is that they've got themselves so tied up in modern Dialectics (dialectics with a capital D) that they've really lost the ability to engage in meaningful discourse and for developing a path for progress.

I doubt that it is even possible for the leaders of the Democratic party to debate issues.

For example, there is a very strong argument that private accounts would decrease the gap between rich and poor and give the public at large greater ownership of the economy. If done right, private accounts would fit Teddy Roosevelt's definition of progress.

You can't even say the words "private accounts" in the presence of a modern progressive without being immediately showered with invective. The idea is not rejected by putting forward arguments but by simply by antimarket sentiment. We hate property owners. Therefore broadbased ownership of the means of production is bad.

This method of discourse kills the Democrats. Much of the method of discourse come straight from The Manifesto. The modern progressive holds that "freedom is slavery and slavery freedom." .

A really funny thing from the Utah perspective is that new age progressives have started practicing polygamy. Regress is progress fits in perfectly with the belief that slavery is freedom.

PS: The NeoCons (Bush, etc.) have the same problem. They lack the skills in open discourse.

If you actually looked at the "conservative think tanks" that you despise, you would find that many of them are distancing themselves from the Republican party.

The one positive trend for Democrats is that the religious right and neocons are driving the classical liberals out of their party.

The interesting result is that if there were a democratic candidate who liked the free market and other elements of an open society, they would clean up.

Bush's narrow re-election victory shows that the majority of Americans are ready to make the jump to an alternative.

Kerry's duplicity made it clear that he was not the alternative.

Unfortunately, it appears that both the Republican and Democratic parties will take a jump to the left in the up coming years ... keeping the US on its Road to Serfdom.

PS: as for the money. I seem to recall that the Democrats were way ahead in the money game in the 60s and 70s. I remember that Republicans used to make the snippy statements about not being able to match the Democratic money raising machines. Money generally follows the political trends.

neal s said...

You know what Republicans like even more than Dean as chair? Democrats and/or people on the left who repudiate him.

... said...

Look, Dean is a loose cannon. The numbers stand as proof that he's hurting the Democratic Party. Those are the facts. I'm only repudiating Dean because of his loud mouth. Like I said, I was a HUGE Deaniac. But, I think he's in the wrong position right now.

neal s said...

The only numbers you cite are the fundraising numbers, which (as was correctly pointed out) are not as bad as they seem. Maybe you're right if your point is that he's not the best person to rep the party on Meet the Press, but that's also not his job. His job is to put an organization in place that will support competitive candidates, and there is no evidence that he is failing on that front. Indeed, the relatively successful runs Democrats enjoyed last week suggest the opposite.

What I'm expressing here is not a beef with you specifically., but with what I consider a tired position. The argument that Democrats should look to people like Harry Reid and Hilary Clinton scares the hell out of me. Do you really want the DLC back in charge? A return to the Republican-lite policies of the Clinton era? Say what you will about Dean but he is a genuine outsider, and someone whose core values are, basically, in tune with the American populace. You wouldn't guess that with the way he's generally portrayed, but it's a fact nonetheless.

All that said, the real test comes next year, so I'll look forward to revisiting this then. Should be a fun 12 months.

Unknown said...

Dean's job is to organize the party and write the platform. If he can do that capably, shift it to the left, then he doesn't need to be removed.

Also, he shouldn't be repping the party publicly. He brings out animosity in people for some reason.

I was actually glad he'd won when he did, knowing that the party would shift back to the left.

Unknown said...

Also, I think Steve missed Chuck Schumer, Dick Durbin and Charlie Rengel. These guys are very charsimatic and can bring a message to the people.

Charlie Rengel specifically can bring home the bacon when it comes to support.

... said...

Nah, I didn't forget those people (all solid Demos). I just didn't want to write a friggin novel.

But as for Dean, he's not shifting ANYTHING right now. Believe me when I say that any momentum the Democrats are having right now, Dean could easily kill with 5 minutes on "Meet The Press". Trust me, it just might happen.

And I don't think the party should be shifting to the left anyways. They need to be shifting towards what most Americans want. If that means moderation, that means moderation.


JulieB said...

I'm with you on Dean. If he can organize, fundraise, whatever as long as his mouth is closed and he's not alienating people. He doesn't speak for me and neither does anyone else who "rants".
Hilary has a similar problem - she does not have a clear vision (whatever the details) and a large number of people simply don't like her. Say what you will, people need to LIKE the candidate.
I think you're onto something with Emanuel, Obama, and Boxer as well (I'm from California and she certainly addresses my issues), altho I think Obama expresses himself extremely well and speaks to all of my issues.

Anonymous said...

Universal health care can be a major great influence on health care. It is unfortunate to hear so many lack health insurance. We really need to improve our health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many and we should help everyone get covered.