Democrats: No message, no money Posted by: McQ
on Friday, May 19, 2006
Things like Donald Lambro has written are a dime a dozen (no disrespect meant to Mr. Lambro) among right leaning pundits.
The Democrats' election-year agenda is still a work in progress as party leaders attempt the impossible: to draft a document that appeals to all of its disparate ideological factions.
But the word coming out of the Democrats' inner sanctums is, there's deep disagreement over its contents and core message and a brewing argument over the timing of its release.
Parts of the agenda have been floated piecemeal over the past several months, but they were either boilerplate proposals, like raising the minimum wage, or an attempt to sound tough on national security, but without any specifics on how to end the insurgency in Iraq or set timetables for troop withdrawal, as their large antiwar wing demands.
The rest of the agenda being drafted in Democratic backrooms will deal with domestic issues that, once revealed, could alter the dynamics of this election in the GOP's favor.
"The Democrats don't have a message."
"The Democrats don't have an agenda."
"The Democrats don't have any new ideas."
"The Democrats don't have a clue."
Heck, I've written the same thing numerous times and I can promise you my work goes for a dime a dozen.
You have a tendency to want to discount it a bit due to some inherent bias brought on by the writers particular ideological leaning.
But when Paul Begala says pretty much the same thing, then you begin to think that perhaps Lambro's a pretty smart guy:
I am deeply frustrated with a party establishment that does everything except tell people what we stand for. They spend millions on voter files, field work, phone banks, staff, consultants, etc...and yet people don't know what we stand for. I am not opposed to hiring organizers. I'm opposed to pretending that hiring organizers is in any way a substitute for having a message.
I've lived almost my entire life in red states — not Berkeley, not Burlington — but Texas and Virginia. I know better than most how vicious these Republicans can be. And I can't bear the thought that we're going to leave these brave, ballsy challengers naked and vulnerable to the tender mercies of Mr. Rove. Ideally you'd like to make sure they have both the message and the organizers they need to win.
I strongly believe in a 50 state strategy. And I stand in awe of the Zack Exeleys of the world, who have found ways to galvanize folks into political action. But I believe that the way to build the party in all 50 states is to begin with the message. With a message - and the money to spread the word far and wide — we can attract and fund staffers in all 50 states. And they in turn can recruit thousands of volunteers - people who are energized by the party's principles and values and vision. But without a message, even the best organizers are merely clanging cymbals.
What is Begala complaining about? Well other than the usual and expected references to Rove and "vicious ... Republicans", he's talking about organization and spending without a message. In other words, he's deeply concerned that no matter how successful Howard Dean is with putting together a 50 state network to rival the one enjoyed by Republicans, it won't mean a thing unless Democrats can point out what they stand for. What they believe. What they want to do if elected.
Maybe I'm wrong, but I've always been under the impression that is how one attracts voters. Oh, I know, a slick and organized machine is a wonderful thing to behold, and, of course, it costs beaucoup bucks, but unless it is organizing voters, well, it's not much use to anyone. And voters usually don't respond well to organizations which can't tell them what they're all about. That, of course, is what has Begala concerned.
Democrats have raised a lot of money, but other than this emerging organization, they've done little to attract voters. What Begala wonders is will they have enough, if and when they do finally get a message together, to do the work necessary to attract them?
What prompted that comment was a report that the Democratic National Committee had raised $74 million, but only had $10 million cash on hand. This in contrast to a Republican National Committee with $43 million cash on hand. That disparity is a crisis.
You see, Howard Dean and the Dems are building a 50 state organization and have 10 million left, and Ken Mehlman and the Republicans already have a 50 state network and 43 million. So I can see how old Paul might be a little upset at this point, seeing as that message thing is still undecided.
But is that Dean's fault? Or guys like Begala's fault.
Do yourself a favor, folks. Read the comments in response to Begala's HuffPo article. If you think the Republicans have a constituency which is unhappy with them, they have nothing over the Democrats.
In this thread, Ornery WP saw fit to dismiss my goal of seeing the Democrats driven into the ground.
What I believe he missed is my certainty that all that needs to happen for the Democratic Party to be destroyed is merely that the people who have had in the last decade or so, a tendency to vote Republican—keep voting Republican. The Democrats don’t have to be subverted and destroyed, they are doing it themselves.
Keep voting Republican in spite of the lack of fiscal or constitutional conservatism on the part of the current crop of Republican elected nationally—this too shall pass. The Democrats, gradually unable to keep up their patronage committments, will fall apart.
The reson this is a good thing is that the duopoly of two statist parties is the problem, and that duopoly is very stable as long as people keep flopping from one of the current major parties to another. That flopping is what people who want to see one or more houses of Congress flip to the Democrats this year are trying to create—and they will perpetuate the problem.
Like an iceberg, we can see on the near horizon (historically speaking) the statist, collectivist social programs undertaken by FDR and Johnson which will sink the ship of state and to some degree drag our nation down with it. I at least, can see the entwined political machines of the duopoly running a homing algorithm slaved to that iceberg.
One machine is breaking itself right now, lets make sure it breaks. Then the other can be broken—the Republican Party.
There is no assurance that from that wreckage, a party dedicated to true federalism and the original American conservatism which stands apart from Burkean conservatism, described as:
"They are "conservative" in the sense that they cling to America’s unique pre-modern tradition—a non-feudal society with a sort of medieval liberty writ large for everyman."
Kopel & Little, Maryland Law Review 56 (1997):438.
But to maintain the course we have been on since 1900 and especially 1934 or so is folly.
We need a chance at improvement, not a sure status quo.
Even the dedicated Democrats now can see the light at the end of their tunnel is a train. We should advance the throttle.
The Democrats do stand for things but they are unpopular with the majority of the American people. They stand for: 1) Widthdrawl from Iraq 2) Unrestricted abortion on demand 3) Gay Marriage 4) Tax increases 5) Amnesty for illegals 6) Republicans suck 7) Impeachment 8) Impeachment 9) Impeachment 10) Impeachment . . . . . 100) Impeachment