Monday, July 10, 2006

Unsolicited Advice For Democratic Losers

By Richard Reeves

Let's begin by stating the obvious: If the Democrats cannot win the 2006 congressional elections, they don't deserve to be a political party. They will survive as losers, of course, but only because American election laws are a contract between the Democratic and Republican parties to preserve each other no matter what happens.

Given failing wars, a failed Republican president and a deliberate betrayal of the America most of us grew up in, or thought we did -- we were taught that Americans went to war only when we were attacked, and we did not endorse torture and the murdering of civilians -- it is hard to imagine how the Democrats can lose.

The losing strategy, I think, would be to stand still in front of forests of American flags and shout: "Iraq! Iraq! Iraq!" Such a campaign would also be punctuated by more hushed mentions of Afghanistan as well.

That's a mug's game, a losing game for the Democrats. Why? If the overwhelming majority of Americans realize by the end of the year that invading Iraq was a mistake, why not round them up like so many cattle? The answer is in the question: Americans already know things went terribly wrong and we are governed by incompetent ideologues who rushed in where angels feared to tread.

The problem for the Democrats on Iraq is that they cannot or will not come up with any credible arguments about what to do next. The Republican response -- "Follow the flag! Stay the course. Support our boys and girls against the ragheads" -- will once again top Democratic mealy-mouthed confusion and political cowardice.

So, politically, I would argue the war will take care of itself. People of all political persuasions already get it. Sooner or late, many Americans will see verbal attacks as anti-American diatribes. Politicians do not always do well by doing good or being right.

The Republicans already have many institutional advantages in the coming elections: the power of incumbency, the ability to raise money, and districts across the country that have been redesigned to concentrate Democratic voters (minorities and the poor) in ways that maximize the chances of Republican candidates in areas that were once marginal. Their final advantage would be an election cast as referendum on war, easily turned into a referendum on patriotism.

My advice, unsolicited, to Democrats would be to wage a campaign on local issues and the overall national governance of Republicans these last six years.President Bush and the Republican Congresses came to power in an American superpower -- military, economic and moral -- with a balanced budget and what seemed unlimited future. Now, we are a debt-ridden country reviled around the world and scorned at home because of conservative positions and performance from stem cell research to New Orleans. The war in Iraq is only a symptom, not the cause, of the decline of the United States -- and that decline should be the Democratic issue of choice in 2006 and perhaps 2008 as well.

This guy is right and wrong at the same time, in my not-so-humble opinion. Bush's War and the Occupation of Iraq is "only" a symptom of our decline in the same way a 300-pound tumor is "only" a symptom that something may be dreadfully wrong with our health. We're not going to fix it by ignoring it while trying to deal with flat feet, body odor, flatulence, and incontinence, although those things need addressing as well.

Of all the evils perpetrated by this administration, Iraq is by far the most serious. I won't bore you with all the others. I know I could list them with one or two for each letter of the alphabet and still miss a bunch of 'em.

Where Mr. Reeves gets it right is this: The Democrats need to put aside their petty internal squabbles and consolidate their message. That's how the Republicans have done it, and they run the joint. Poorly, to be sure, but that's not the point. As stupid, incompetent, closed-minded, anti-everybody but the rich and powerful, and just plain evil as they are, they did it by getting together on one message, sticking together, kickin' ass, and lying.

The Democrats need to get together on one message, namely that the American people have been sold a bunch of snake oil by charlatans and taken for fools in the process at the hideous expense of their future if they don't act now.

They also need a plan as to how they will fix things once they are in, in easily understandable terms. A lot of people don't want to be bothered by the intricacies of dealing with complex problems, they just want the pols to "git 'er done" and leave 'em alone.

If the Dems work out a good way of getting their message across and stick together, they can kick ass by telling the TRUTH. That's the main difference between US and THEM.

'If' is a big word. 'If' Hell had ice water, I'd rather be there than Texas, just for example. While hoping and working for the best outcome this November and beyond, I'd say us reality-based folks better not hold our breath.

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