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Democrats: getting the message out
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wasn't the Democratic lament last election cycle "we didn't get our message out effectively?"

If you read the Washington Post article by Shailagh Murray and Charles Babington today, nothing appears to have changed:
Democratic leaders had set a goal of issuing their legislative manifesto by November 2005 to give voters a full year to digest their proposals. But some Democrats protested that the release date was too early, so they put it off until January. The new date slipped twice again, and now House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) says the document will be unveiled in "a matter of weeks."
QandO has reported on the trial balloons the Democrats have launched since the 2004 election. In a word, they've been "unimpressive".

Here we are in March of 2006, and we're still waiting for that message to be presented. As the article points out, some Democrats are complaining of erratic and uncertain leadership. Really? How unexpected.

So where has this leadership left them at this point? Well here's a pretty good summary:
Party leaders, for example, have yet to decide whether Democrats should focus on a sharply negative campaign against President Bush and the Republicans, by jumping on debacles such as the administration's handling of the Dubai port deal — or stress their own priorities and values.

There is no agreement on whether to try to nationalize the congressional campaign with a blueprint or "contract" with voters, as the Republicans did successfully in 1994, or to keep the races more local in tone. And the party is still divided over the war in Iraq: Some Democrats, including Pelosi, call for a phased withdrawal; many others back a longer-term military and economic commitment.
Tick, tick, tick, tick. Time passes and there's no agreement on basic strategy or the issues to be focused upon or stressed? In March? In 2006?

I think Democratic governors have it figured out - not the issues, mind you, but what's going on:
According to multiple accounts from those in the room, Reid said they had narrowed the list to six and proceeded to talk about them. Pelosi then offered her six — not all the same as Reid's. Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said later: "One of the other governors said 'What do you think?' and I said 'You know what I think? I don't think we have a message.' "
Really? With Dean, Reid and Pelosi, I'm not sure that should come as any real surprise to anyone.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

It would be nice if there were a viable alternative political party to the Republicans.

I mean, other than actual conservative Republicans like the Republican Study Committee...

Will the Democrats Death Spiral be good for the country? Could it lead to a viable alternative party? The Republicans and the Democrats haven’t been around for-ever, it just seems that way.

The moderates of either party need to split off, get the real work done, and control the re-election funds. That’s all...
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Uh Keith, the "Moderates" split off, well the "Moderates" would continue on like we’ve been going. Uh that’s what "moderates" do. They might repeal some of the tax cuts, grow the government less slowly than Pelosi, they might rein in SOME spending, but mostly "moderates" will simply allow the government more tax money, either to "pay down the debt" or "reduce the Deficit." They will NOT fundamentally change the sytem... I ask you as Rush Limbaugh would ask you, "Name the great moderates of history?" or as one bumper sticker I say read, "Wel behaved women do not change history."

In short you only want moderates to leave the Democratic Party to weaken it, and more "radical" elements to increase in the Republican Party.

Oh and BTW, who ARE the "real" Conservatives you speak of? Do you mean James K Glassman "conservatives", fiscal pro-business Republicans, who don’t care about immigration, save as it affects work force issues, and who don’t worry about social issues like abortion or gay marriage? Because if that’s "conservative" to you, well we need to get back to the first cases of coalition-building, ’cuz them folks ain’t the ONLY Conservatives and you might not want to just focus on them...
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
At this point, the Ds message is "We’re not Bush". The Rs message is "We’re not Democrats." What else are the Rs going to run on? How about this, "We’ve been in control for six years, we’ve really screwed up, but we promise to do better this time." Run that over a photo of Lucy and Charley Brown with a football.

Seriously, given the gerrymandered state of House districts, I expect very little change in the House, maybe four or five seats at most. Same with the Senate, one or two seats. The wild card (although given the timing I think this will be more of an issue in 2008) is the S. Dak. abortion law. In many ways, this is the Republican Party’s worst nightmare. Once voters realize that the social authoritarian wing of the party has a chance to realize its vision, the backlash will begin and it’ll take a few years to put the pieces back together.
Written By: Steven Donegal
URL: http://
Steve Donegal, you assume that the "authoritarian wing" is the minority... what if pro-choice Republicans ARE THE MINORITY?
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
"by jumping on debacles such as the administration’s handling of the Dubai port deal

Calling the port deal a debacle is part of their problem.
"...S. Dak. abortion law. In many ways, this is the Republican Party’s worst nightmare."
Steven, do you think most Repubilicans are going to be upset about this? It may seem social authoritarian to you, but to many conservatives, it’s as authoritarian as a law against murdering you. Why oh why do pro-abortion folks forever fail to understand abortion law in that perspective?
Written By: Unknown
URL: http://
I don’t think most Republicans will be upset about it. But I think enough of them will be upset about it that it will change the political dynamic.

Written By: Steven Donegal
URL: http://
Steve, really, you mean if we pro-choice Republicans get something we want YOU’LL have to ditch us? Wow so that’s what a party means, I do for YOU and YOU dump me when I get something I want? Well Steve- ole’ man where ya gonna hie yourself off to?

Now it’s perfectly fair for you to ask US, "OK you’ve got the abortion thing going, now how about reducing certain programs in the Federal Government." See Steve THAT’S how it’s supposed to be played, unless of course you’re a single issue voter, i.e. Pro-Choice... then you’re going to be very unhappy.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Steve, you might consider the slavery example, did the "authoritarian wing" of the party then do wrong in advocating the end of slavery? What you mean by authoritarian, is the wing of the party with which it is fair to say, "I’m uncomfortable around or with whom I disagree and so I thought to label them perjoratively as, "authoritarian."" I mean ANY public policy decision is authoritarian, it tells you what you can and CAN NOT do in certain instances.

Were the folks that outlawed murder "authoritarian" or would it be "authoritarian" to outlaw voluntary human sacrifice or voluntary canibalism? Is it authoritarian to outlaw suicide and to authorize the state to prevent suicide and to forcibly prevetn and hospitalize those who attempt it? These are all normative judgements about what is "right" or "wrong" not simply tehcnocratic discussions of good or bad public policy or the efficacy of one set of policy options over another set of policy options and they constrain people’s voluntary actions...

So let’s be a little careful with the phrase, "authoritarian."
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Well, Joe, if everything the government does is a normative judgment (which I think is what you were saying), then I’m going to hie myself off to support people whose normative judgments I agree with. It doesn’t really matter to me what party that person belongs to.
Written By: Steven Donegal
URL: http://
So Steve you’re a single issue voter, pro-choice? Or is it that the religious make your palms sweat? So you’re saying that a party as a means to aggregate interests is of no importance to you? You’d join the LP, though it has no influence or the Democratic Party, even though it may not meet your needs in other policy areas either, because of abortion? OK, that makes you single-issue and to an extent then we have to let you go... Can’t keep you and me in if you’re not willing to make some concessions.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I think people are over-blowing the S.D. abortion law. I think many Republicans will think it’s their right to make their own laws. That is the nature of our Republic after all. Or at least what it used to mean.


When I was talking of "moderates" I was talking more about those not on the extremes. Either the extreme right, or extreme left.
I mean, other than actual conservative Republicans like the Republican Study Committee...
The Republican Study Committee is a group of over 100 House Republicans organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda in the House of Representatives. The Republican Study Committee is dedicated to:

a limited and Constitutional role for the federal government,
a strong national defense,
the protection of individual and property rights,
and the preservation of traditional family values.

The group has played a major role in key policy areas including budget, appropriations, taxes, education, Social Security reform, defense, deregulation, and general government reform. The Republican Study Committee is an independent research arm for Republicans.
As oppossed to people who call themselves Conservatives, or the President who is a self-described "Compassionate Conservative" which is really a newer strain, which believes in using the might of the Federal government to achieve more conservative ends.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Again Keith the RSC aren’t "moderates".
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Never said they were...

Although I don’t consider them extremist, or radical either...
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Keith what would you consider "Extreme", then? Seriously, a straight Libertarian program? They are proposing to re-enact the 1995 Republican budget! I think extreme has the same meaning in your lexicon as "Authoritarian" has in Steve’s... someone I don’t agree with.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
They aren’t trying to re-enact the 95 budget. It is a budget based on the "Contract with America"
RSC Budget:

• Balances the budget within the budget window
• Includes pro-growth tax policy (guards against automatic tax increases)
• Makes no changes to Social Security
• Makes real reductions in discretionary spending
• Includes reconciliation/entitlement reform
• Increases defense spending
• Decreases foreign aid
• Significantly restructures three cabinet agencies
• Eliminates federal programs
• Includes budget process reform
You can view details of the budget here...

I don’t see any of the following as extreme.
Top Ten Conservative Priorities for 2006

In 2006, the House of Representatives must:

1. Pass a balanced budget amendment to put our fiscal house in order.
2. Pass a budget reconciliation package, to rein in auto-pilot spending which has risen from 25% of all federal spending in 1963 to 54% today, and is expected to reach nearly 60% in 2014.
3. Offset all emergency supplemental spending with spending reductions and offset all new programs with simultaneous, equivalent reductions in, or eliminations of, existing programs.
4. Make the tax cuts permanent, including the repeal of the marriage-tax penalty and the death tax and pass fundamental tax reform
5. Pass budget process reform, which includes budgeting for emergencies with a rainy day fund, instituting a sunset commission for federal programs, instituting a constitutional line-item veto, and making the budget resolution carry the force of law.
6. Pass legislation which stops the raid on the Social Security Trust Fund and allows Americans to own a personal Social Security account.
7. Pass ethics reform that requires transparency and earmark reform which permits Members of Congress to strike earmarks on the House floor.
8. Pass the Marriage Protection Amendment, to ensure that marriage, the union of one man and one woman as husband and wife, is not redefined by activist judges.
9. Defend the sanctity of human life, which includes banning all human cloning, passing the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, promoting ethical adult stem cell research, and preventing federal funding for destructive embryonic stem cell research.
10. Pass protections for religious freedom, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments, and religious expression in the public square.
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Well Keith, your definition of "moderate" = mine and others definiton of "CONSERVATIVE." Now I don’t object to the Contract renewed, but I WILL point out that the 1995 budget was made by Mean Spirited Republican EXTREMISTS, so I’m just telling you you really ain’t a moderate.
Written By: Joe
URL: http://

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