Monday, October 11, 2010

Why Democrats Will Lose in November

To start off, let me just say that I hope I'm massively wrong about this.  I'm a Democrat and a committed progressive, and I die a little bit inside as poll after poll comes out shifting more House and Senate races towards the Republicans.  And not just the Olympia Snowe Republicans, the "yeah, it sucks that they usually vote party line, but at least they can be counted on to have common sense" Republicans.  No, these races are shifting to Rand "The Civil Rights Act is unconstitutional" Paul, Christine "I use campaign donations to pay for my house" O'Donnell, Sharron "let's allow preachers to endorse candidates from the pulpit" Angle, Jim "Single mothers and gay people shouldn't be allowed to teach in public schools" DeMint, and Joe "Social Security has stolen all my money from me" Miller.  Scared yet?  That's how they want you to feel.

Now, pop quiz: How many Democratic candidates have such easily recognizable positions?  They don't even have to be as far out as these ones, just . . . recognizable.  If you answered "none", sad to say, I'm right there with you.  Democratic candidates are unwilling to embrace with such fervor their positions and programs that they've worked on these past two years.  Why?  Because the Republicans have succeeded in spinning programs like TARP (which wasn't even an Obama program), the bailout, and the healthcare bill as evils.   People who say "TARP worked!" or "The healthcare bill is going to help bring about better lives for us and our children" aren't heard, because that's not what the public wants to hear.  It doesn't make good stories.  The airwaves are a battlefield, TV ads are skirmishes, and oftentimes I feel like Democrats have surrendered before even trying to fight.

If Democrats lose badly in November, it won't just be because the party who hold the presidency usually loses in midterms.  It will be because they have been unwilling to embrace their successes.  It will be because they have let the Republicans take their accomplishments and spin them into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves.  Republicans laugh off climate change, refuse to accept equality for gays and lesbians, paint TARP and the bailouts as failures, and flat-out lie about some of the most important issues  facing America.  And, somehow, all the Democrats can come up with is "Things are awful now, but they'll be worse with the Republicans in charge"?  Well, guess what, people should have a very clear picture of what America would be like with the Republicans in charge just based on their ads.  We don't need all the Democratic ads to be saying that.

We need Democrats to be out there counter-spinning the Republicans.  We need them to be a voice for truth, for justice.  We don't need all of their negative ads that just repeat "so-and-so outsourced jobs, so-and-so's a birther" because we already know that from said candidate's own statements.  What the Democrats should be doing is talking about their achievements.  We need Barbara Boxer talking about her environmental protection legislational achievements, Harry Reid to talk about why healthcare is good, Kirsten Gillibrand to talk about her leadership on repealing DADT.  Democrats don't need to show why Republicans are worse, they need to show why they are better.  And yes, those are two very different things.  Let the Christine O'Donnell's self-immolate on their own pyres of ludicrousness.  You don't need to do their jobs for them.

If Democrats lose in November, it won't be because the Republicans have more mainstream appeal, or better ideas on how to fix the country.  It will be because they lost the media/PR war.

No comments:

Post a Comment