Monday, November 08, 2004

Ammunition for the Propaganda War

Yglesias - "[The Democrats] need to make the Republicans own the IRS, the tax code, and everything else about the government that's hateful or inefficient. . .
The Republicans have all the power, so the Democrats must make them the party of government, and make themselves the party of reform."

Atrios - "If they can get out in front of the issue they also stand a better (though not foolproof) chance of setting the terms and language of the debate."

Atrios - "Play offense, not defense. It's a propaganda war, not a legislative one, and we need to recognize that."
There is a view of the Democratic Party that persists - the party of left-wing wackos (sometimes referred to as "the Michael Moore contingent"), big government, welfare, etc. It persists for two reasons that must be addressed. First, the Democratic Party has splintered and has offered no cohesive alternative to that image. Second, the Republicans do a damn good job of leaving seeds of doubt and mistrust about the Democrats. Until this image problem is overcome, the Democrats will find it difficult to win elections and to fight more specific attacks from Republicans.
It should not have to be a choice between galvanizing the base or appealing to "middle America." The Democratic base is not that different from the great grey middle of the country. Everyone is hugely influenced by the media and most vote based on vague feelings. If the Dems want to get rid of that vague negative feeling towards the party, then they need to have a message to replace it with.

Get the government out of our churches. Get the government out of our libraries. Government is for the people, so down with government secrecy. Keep government responsible, accountable. Take of our soldiers. Let people have the opportunity to take care of their families. Make sure our children get a good education and that their education means something. Take care of the environment so that our families have a future. Promote ingenuity, science, progress.

None of these messages necessitates ignoring the Democratic base or watering down the party. In fact, if the party can include their base (that Michael Moore contingent) in their language, then they will be more successful.
I have a friend, a recovering Republican, who said that she voted for Kerry because she is concerned about the environment. There are those people who already have their issues and priorities set and will vote those issues. The Democrats should never forget their roots in the environment, in helping the poor, etc. It's part of what keeps them a separate party.
So, if we can bring these issues together in a more populist message, we can begin to set the dialogue and the priorities of the great American middle. And, let's not believe the propaganda against the Democrats - many people in middle America did vote for John Kerry.

(Incidentally, that same voter friend of mine said months ago that she would vote for Bush because someone got violent at a protest (it was mis-reported, of course) and injured a cop. She insisted that "that's who John Kerry's supporters are.")