Democrats Need to Shake Things Up After This Election's Over

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Whatever the results of the mid-term election today, and most likely they won't be great for the Democrats, I believe it's high time to shake things up at the White House, the DNC, and pretty much everywhere in the Democratic Party.  Why do I say this?  Let us count the ways. (warning: major rant ahead)1. Total Messaging FAIL
Democrats over the past 2 years haven't been able to craft a compelling narrative to save their lives, and that's utterly inexcusable. For instance, did you know that the much-reviled Stimulus Act not only helped save us from Great Depression II, it also cut taxes by $288 billion, giving just about every American a tax break? It's true, yet most voters think the opposite ("By 52 percent to 19 percent, likely voters say federal income taxes have gone up for the middle class in the past two years.")!  I'm sorry, but that's inexcusable. Anyone involved in this failure to communicate should be fired immediately. They are utterly incompetent and should never work in politics again. Period.
Continuing on this same theme, the same poll shows that voters believe - incorrectly, once again - that most TARP money has been "lost." In fact, the Treasury "expects to turn a $16 billion profit" on TARP. But again, nobody knows that. WTF?!?
Yet another example: most Americans don't remember when this recession started (under Bush), don't know what caused it (lots of factors, including Republican policies that led to the housing bubble and collapse, rapidly growing income inequality, deregulatory policies that let Wall Street run amok, etc.), and aren't aware that the economy's growing again under the Democrats. They also don't give Democrats any credit for avoiding Great Depression II. It's maddening, and it's partly the result of the lamestream media and the Republican Big Lie, but we've also got to point our fingers at Major Democratic Messaging FAIL!
lowkell :: Democrats Need to Shake Things Up After This Election's Over
2. Total Marketing FAIL
Yet another example would be Democrats' utter failure to sell health care reform or to defend themselves on clean energy/climate legislation. As always, the Republican demonization strategy was effective, and the Democrats couldn't defend themselves if their lives depended on it. For instance, on health care reform, we waited months to really respond to Republican lunacy on "death panels," "government takeover of health care," and other Big Lies. I guess the theory that this s*** was so crazy, we didn't even have to respond. Well, guess what guys - YOU DO!!!  By the time Democrats did respond, ineffectually and half-heartedly of course, it was waaaaayyy too late.  Heckuva job.  Oh, and if all that's not bad enough, Democrats couldn't even effectively push back when Republicans demonized one of their own core ideas - the "individual mandate" - as suddenly evil incarnate. That's right, let me repeat: the individual mandate was a Republican idea, as was much of the health care reform bill, yet Democrats allowed Republicans to a) redefine the bill as a core Democratic one; b) demonize it as socialist, etc.; and c) win the debate. Pathetic.It was the same thing on clean energy and climate legislation, which Republicans managed to demonize as "cap and tax." This, despite the fact that "cap and trade" was actually a conservative, "free market" Republican idea, coming out of the Reagan Administration no less. Yet Democrats were helpless, apparently, to defend themselves, even as Republicans once again demonized their own idea!  Again, it's maddening, and all of these Democratic messaging "gurus" should be on the streets looking for work tomorrow.
3. Major overpromising and political strategery FAIL
Then, there are the idiots who thought it made sense to promise the moon and stars to Democrats but then deliver only a lump of coal in our stocking. Thus, in 2006 and 2008, we were told over and over again: just get us back Congress and the White House, especially if you can get us a "filibuster-proof majority" in the Senate, and we'll deliver everything you want, from "card check" to immigration reform to comprehensive energy and climate legislation to real health care reform (with a public option, at least) to closing Gitmo to ending "Don't Ask Don't Tell" to...well, you get the message. In the end, the grassroots delivered the White House, the Congress, the 60-vote "filibuster-proof majority," everything we were asked to do.
And what did we get out of our efforts? Go down that list and decide for yourself. And yes, I am well aware that Republicans, aka "the party of no," were largely at fault. But c'mon now, let's get serious; when Republicans barely controlled Congress in 2001-2006, they rammed a LOT of Bush's agenda through. Democrats, in contrast, spent endless months waiting for "bipartisan" support for health care reform and other priorities, only to receive the cold shoulder time and time again. Overpromise, underdeliver -- a recipe for failure and pissed-off Democrats. This should be glaringly obvious, yet apparently it wasn't. Did the geniuses ever learn their lesson? Nope. Should any of these people still have jobs tomorrow? Nope.
4. Major Democratic Cojones/Disloyalty FAIL
Finally, I've got to say, too many supposed "Democrats" ran campaigns that only can be described as pathetic, pusillanimous, and principle-less.  For instance, we had one Democratic campaign in Virginia bashing health care reform in its TV ads, posing a false equivalence of blame between Republicans and Democrats, distancing themselves from Nancy Pelosi, and generally failing to stand up for Democratic core values and accomplishments.  With Democrats like this, who needs enemies, yet across the country, we saw way too much of this disloyalty and Democratic "brand" damaging. It's inexcusable, and my bet is that most of these jerks will lose anyway. Good riddance.
In sum: Yes, I'm frustrated. Yes, I'm aggravated. Yes, I'm disgusted. And yes, I could go on and on all day about all this.  For now, though, I'll spare you. However, something tells me I'll have a lot more to say about this in coming days...