ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Dems - Looking Backwards

OliverWillis (loveably known here as the Twinkie-meister) has some ideas on how the Dems are going to win in 2008. His big a-ha moment: Let's do what we did in 1992! He refers to a book that he recently read, called Spin Cycle by Howard Kurtz. Now, kudos to Ollie for reading this book, as it is politically relavent - if it's 1996. I remember reading this during the Clinton Presidency, amazed that Kurtz & Co were just so tickled at how the press was being "spun." Here is Ollie's advice:

The solution to what ails the Democratic party is not lurching left or right on issues. Here’s a piece of information I’ve uncovered: people don’t vote on issues. Let me refine that - aside from partisans, Americans don’t vote on issues. On the right, you will roast if you don’t march with Dobson and the Chamber of Commerce. On the left, your goose is cooked if you don’t support Choice and worker’s rights. But beyond that, we as a nation don’t pick our presidents (or other leaders, for that matter) by stacking up the positions and choosing from “A” and “B” and adding it all up. We pick the entire package, and the winning campaign is the one who presents the best person.

The last two Democratic campaigns have failed (I say failure in the case of Gore because it should never have been close enough for the shenanigans in Florida to work) because both candidates listened to the beltway crowd and whizzed around from issue to issue. Bush won because he picked four points and repeated them until he was blue in the face and then said them again. He didn’t win because people necessarily agreed with all of those points, but because he communicated an image of control and sympathy within the box he had created for himself. If you care to go back to 1992, President Clinton did just that - relentless in his critique of the failing Bush economy and never forgetting to tell the American people that that was why they should choose him over George H. W. Bush.

Democrats keep looking to the politics of 1996 as their template, but forget that the GOP had nominated such a weak candidate (savaged by Clinton early in the race - another hint is to be the first to go negative) and that Clinton simply had to slice off a percent here or a percent there. That wasn’t the case in ‘00, ‘04 and it won’t be in ‘08.

When I read this, my immediate thought was: Wait, it's 2005... and it'll be 2008 for the next Presidential election. That's 16 years past the election template that you want to use. But then I thought - Wait, the Dems haven't won since then... they've got little recent experience with winning and have to look to '92 for an overwhelming victory. And even in that election, Ross Perot pulled double-digits. (As Ollie admits, '96 wasn't a real contest.)

This all adds up to more inconsistency in the Democratic message. They get pulled to the left by the Kossacks and DUers, they get pulled to the right by the moderates (with what little influence they still have), and now they're getting pulled into the past by Oliver Willis, who was too young to vote in 1992.

Does he have any idea how much the political landscape has changed since 1992? Or 1996? 2000? How about since September 11, 2001??? Where was the internet and the conservative voice in 1992? Rush Limbaugh had been syndicated nationally for only 4 years at that point... Where were the blogs, with the extremely effective blog swarms fact-checking candidates and pushing them to live up to their campaign promises? 1992 might as well be 1892. Unfortunately for Ollie, the Democratic candidate for President received 4% more of the popular vote than Clinton did in 1992. It seems that the Dems should look back even further to find those great electoral successes.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler