Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More on the State of the Democratic Pary


Mr. Russert: The Republicans control both houses of Congress, and as you said, President Bush has been encouraging spending. But the Democrats have not been standing up saying, "Wait, stop." They're still in there fighting for their own projects. David Brooks, you wrote on Thursday: "On one side are those who believe that the [Democratic] party's essential problem is with its political style. The Republicans win because they are simply rougher"--excuse me--"so the Democrats must be just as tough in response. They must match Karl Rove blow for blow. Democrats in this camp are voting against John Roberts" for the Supreme Court "just to show the world, and their donors above all, that they are willing to give no quarter. On the other side are those who believe that the Democratic defeats flow from policy problems, not from campaign style or message framing. They don't believe that Democrats can win wrapped in their own rage ...For them, the crucial challenge is to come up with policies more in tune with voters."

Who's winning that debate within the Democratic Party?

Mr. Brooks: The haters. You know what? You look across the party and you see some Democrats who really are working on policy ideas. I think of John Edwards, Steny Hoyer, one of the House leaders who had a foreign policy document come out this week. But most Democrats seem to be acting as if the main problem with the country is that the country doesn't hate George Bush enough. And if we only shout louder, they'll hate him more like tourists in Paris who think they'll understand us if we scream a little louder. And to me, it's led to the brain death of the Democratic Party. I don't know where the party stands on Iraq. I don't know where it stands on entitlement spending. On issue after issue, I really don't know where that party stands. So we're having a joint race to the bottom here between the two parties, and I think the result is what you're seeing is a dealignment. Voters flaking off the Republicans but not going over to the Democrats. They're just sort of stuck and floating in the middle. Stan Greenberg, Bill Clinton's old pollster, called them dislodged voters. And to me, that means the '08 election is gonna look very different than the '04 or '00.

Brooks has a big point here. The people who seem to be the movers within the Democratic party today are not thinkers. MoveOn.org is not known for its positions papers, but its hatred for all things Bush and Republican. The "haters" as Brooks calls them, is all about emotion and about getting people angry. People are upset at Bush and the Republicans in Congress, but they aren't supporting Democrats enmasse. Why? Because the Dems have no ideas, just a lot of fury. They have no plan for Social Security other than leave it as it is. They have no plan for Iraq or how to deal with terrorism. How would they control the deficit?

Anger can be a good thing in getting urging people to action. However, in the end, you need to give people a plan an idea instead of basically saying things will be much better when Bush leaves.

What we need come 2008 is a presidential candidate, regardless of party, that will present ideas. When Bill Clinton and Ross Perot presented plans, they got listened to and one of them made it to the White House.

Saying no to Bush is not an agenda-it's simply a feeling. Being against something or someone isn't enough-you need to state what you are for.

Until that happens the Democrats are basically what Shakesphere once said: sound and fury signifying nothing.


At 12:55 PM, Blogger halfback jack said...

How about this one for BOTH parties (from one of my faves, Sir Winston Churchill):

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

At 4:46 PM, Blogger The Truffle said...

You make some valid points. But Dennis? Asking David Brooks to define the state of the Democratic party is like asking Rick Santorum to talk about gay issues.

Here is a fact: The Democrats have tried partisanship for years and years and years. They got their butts kicked. They tried to be GOP lite. Didn't work. Do they need to take advantage of the great opportunity that the meltdown of the right provides? Yes, absolutely. But don't blame them for their anger.

At 9:30 AM, Blogger J. James Mooney said...

To paint David Brooks as extreme as Santorum is unfair and unfounded. David Brooks is a moderate conservative, the Times wouldn't hire a columnist that's as far to the right as the senator from PA.

Dems don't need to be blamed for their anger, but they certainly won't win with it.


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