Thursday, November 04, 2004

Some Lessons

Here are a series of lessons, in no particular order:

a) Democrats win with presidential candidates with recent experience running in red states (so Al Gore, eight years in DC, doesn't count). Clinton, Carter, LBJ--that's it back to 1960. God love them, but this doesn't describe either HRC or Obama (although the latter might be good for the bottom of the ticket).

b) Biography doesn't trump voting record.

c) Governors are better than Senators.

d) Democrats need a strategy that encourages black turnout while simultaneously appealing to moderate Hispanics and working-class whites. This means serious work in crafting a sensible package of domestic policies to increase social mobility and income security, and even more important, figuring out a clear, simple rhetorical package to communicate them with.

e) While Frymer won't like it, switching the subject to international governance is a pretty lame solution. Americans will always be suspicious of transferring power over domestic governance to international institutions (foreign policy is somewhat different, although I think the limits there are fairly significant as well). Given the Republican control of the courts (which will accelerate in the next four years), Frymer's preference for the bench over the ballot box is no solution either. The answer is to take the American people seriously enough to figure out why Democrats haven't been able to win the handful of midwestern states necessary to elect a president.

f) Blaming Kerry isn't the solution--if we should be mad at anyone, it's the people who voted for him. Just getting mad at Kerry is a strategy of evasion--"if only someone else had been the nominee!" Yes, another nominee would have performed better, but the real question is, how can we change the nomination process to ensure that a candidate who accepts points a-e actually wins.

g) Gay marriage hurt. I'm for it, but on this the Democrats made a mistake that my research on conservative organizations suggested the Republicans never would have made--pushing too hard for a change on which insufficient foundations had been laid. Gay marriage advocates overplayed their hand, and what they got as a consequence was 11 state referenda stuck in their face. The damage from this, both for the Democrats and for a cause I believe is just, is substantial, and it is not over yet.


MWS said...

i agree that gay marriage was a problem for the Democrats in the same way that any new social issue is, but I don't see how they are to be blamed for "pushing" too hard. It was the Mass. state court that created the situation and activists that tried to ride it. The Democratic Party, to my knowledge, had nothing to do with it. They just got stuck with the residue. This, in my opinion, is what happens when courts start making social policy. I do support gay marriage, but it was inevitable (and some gay activists thought so as well) that a court decision legalizing this would create an instant backlash, in the same way that Brown v. Board of Education did. Now, the cause is probably worse off than if the court had never ruled as it did.

Anonymous said...

re your point (a), is that really the only thing that unites clinton, carter, and johnson, but excludes kerry and gore? it seems kinda shady to draw that conclusion with such a small universe of cases.

Palooka said...

I have to concede some pleasure in watching the public handwringing here at Polysigh. I especially enjoy the lunatic ravings of the Dorian Warrens and Paul Frymers of your party.

A blogger friend of mine, Jeff, over at Beautiful Atrocities has a name for these liberal loons--coelacanths. Throwbacks to the failed and discredited liberalism of the 1960s, these coelacanths are impervious to reality and reason.

Here's to the coelacanths!

Anonymous said...

About the gay marriage thing--I think an up-front, Gavin Newsome-type defense of the moral imperative of tolerance & inclusion would have been better than this muddy "we're really better than them but let's be nice & throw them a few bones" bullshit. Not that it would win over great majorities in 2004, but it would have worked to Kerry's benefit in combatting the picture of him as wishy washy, relativist, sell-out, valuless, etc.

salas said...

Look, compassion and minority rights are never popular ideas. Saying/Claiming to be compassionate is always popular. Even so, I'd rather fall in the first group than the latter. So what you're doing here, trying to design some made-up character that will be elected isn't helpful. We'll know our leader when we see him because he/she will be leading us. In the meantime, we should stick to our ideals and in the end the people will see the light and the error of their ways.