Post Election Strategy Memo, Part Two

In Tuesday's wake, there has been a lot of talk about the need for Democrats to develop a unified message, and/or to start developing a more faith-bases message. However, I think we need to immediately slow down on these discussions, because they ignore who we are, and how our coalition is formed.

If I may start this line of argumentation elliptically, let me first note that according to exit polls, around three-quarters of the electorate does not consider itself Catholic. That vote was split almost equally, with a very slight edge in favor of Bush. However, the way that vote split is eye-popping. The two coalitions that Bush and Kerry put together out of the three-quarters of the electorate that are not Catholic broke as follows:

Composition of the two non-Catholic Coalitions
		  Bush	   Kerry
White Protestant     82.7     39.1
Black Protestant      2.7     21.9
Secular 		   8.3	   18.5
Other Religion	   4.3	   14.3
Jewish		   2.0	    6.1
While nearly five out of every six non-Catholic votes Bush received came from white Protestants, Kerry's non-Catholic coalition is extraordinarily diverse. In fact, not only does no group make up 40% of Kerry's non-Catholic vote, the fourth largest group, the internally diverse "Other religion" makes up 14.3% of Kerry's vote.

Coming up with some unifying narrative for Kerry's coalition is not only going to be difficult, it may in fact be impossible. The fact is that the Republican Party represents the interest of the nation's white Protestant plurality, while the Democratic party represents the necessarily diverse interests of everyone else. It is in this sense that we are inherently a negative party, an anti-Bush party, an anti-Republican party, and not a party that can be summed up in a quick and convenient message narrative. Our coalition has more Black Protestants than their coalition has Black Protestants, Jews, Secularists and people of other religions combined. Our coalition has more Secularists than their coalition has Black Protestants, Jews, Secularists and people of other religions combined. Our coalition has almost as many people of religions other than Christianity or Judaism than their coalition has Black Protestants, Jews, Secularists and people of other religions combined. And, to top it all off, we have three times as many Jews in our coaltiion as they have in their coalition. In the face this, we are not going to come up with much of a unifying message, except, as I describe below, perhaps a negative one.

All of these calls for Democrats to become more religious are ignoring the obvious. Republicans are not that much more religious than Democrats, they are just way more white and Protestant. They represent the interests of white Protestants, while we represent the interests of the vast majority of everyone else. However, because white Protestants are not enough to win, Republicans have begun to make an alliance with devout Catholics in order to maintain their majority. Eventually, as national demographics continue to change and as an alliance is formed between white Protestants and devout Catholics, the two parties may become white Christians versus non-Whites and non-Christians. This, of course, assumes that we are able to reverse our slide among Latinos, and thus prevent sinking back into near-permanent minority status ala the 1980's and 1990's.

Either way, the difficulty of our position is obvious. Whether the two coalitions are white Christians versus everyone else or white Protestants and devout Catholics versus everyone else, we always remain the "everyone else." Our coalition is an amalgamation of minorities, while their coalition represents the national ethnic and religious plurality. It is precisely because we are a diverse amalgamation of minorities that we are more anti-them than we are pro-anything else. Being anti-them is inherently our unifying theme--it is the only thing that keeps us together. They can have a coherent agenda because they represent a fairly monolithic constituency. We do not even come close to representing anything remotely monolithic, including a "nurturing parent" view of the world.

When we actually stop and take stock of who we are, it becomes pretty obvious that we already have a unifying message. We do not like, nor do we agree, with the worldview put forth by the vast majority white protestants, especially the worldview of those on the reactionary religious right. We are anti-them. We do not have a unifying worldview to counter that worldview, and in fact we may never have one. Instead, we have around fifty different alternatives that we believe deserve a chance. This is probably going to make it impossible for us to develop any "new unifying message," but just in case we can come close we should at least keep working on it.

We cannot hope, through some new faith based message and/or faith based candidates, to take a significant bite out of the national religious and ethnic plurality that Republicans currently represent. They are simply too good at it, and have worked too many years at it, for us to realistically expect to be able to peel away a significant number of white Protestants. We will have about as much success trying to do that as Republicans would if they tried to peel away noticeable numbers of African-Americans from our coalition. We might get two or three percent, but generally it ain't gonna happen.

However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. While we should not hope to develop the same level of unifying message and religious appeal that Republicans have spent decades cultivating, we do have other options. Specifically, we do have the option of completely boxing them into their current worldview, while simultaneously tarnishing the public perception of that worldview. This is exactly what Republicans have done to our coalition for decades, by pumping up the anti-black, anti-gay, anti-secular, anti-jewish, and, most recently, anti-Muslin rhetoric that has tipped minority after minority into our coalition while simultaneously, and more rapidly, increasing their own share of the national ethnic and religious plurality. In 2000, Bush nearly won a super-majority among Muslims, but in 2004 he won less than 15%. However, Republicans managed to make up more ground than they lost in forfeiting the Muslim vote by fueling the fires of anti-Muslin bigotry among the national religious and ethnic plurality. In the sixties, when Nixon, in the "original Southern Strategy," began demonizing African-Americans, our coalition gained blacks but lost southern whites in droves. Republicans did the same thing with rural voters by developing a culture war narrative, accurately described by Thomas Frank, which is rife with anti-Semitism. They are now in the process of making up the ground they are rapidly losing among Secularist voters by bringing in devout Catholics. The only minority they stopped demonizing are Latinos because, well, Latinos tend to be devout Catholics.

What I am hinting at here, and it is certainly not the nicest or most progressive thing I have ever written, is engaging in a strategy to demonize the religious right in the same way Republicans have demonized liberalism. As a recent diary at Dailykos concerning the demographics of national religious belief points out, we can do this and get away with it. Less than one-quarter of the country is actually a part of the cultural warrior religious right. We label them theocrats. We label them homophobes (and yes, we can and should use the word homophobe). We label them anti-freedom. We label them out of touch with our values. We do this because they are these things. We could label them as terrorists, because as lot of them are. We could label them corporate socialists, because they are. We label them regional bigots, because they are. We should label them anti-American, because they are, and because they have done the same to us. We destroy conservatism itself by defining it as being a member of the reactionary religious right. We tarnish the notion of being conservative to the entire nation. We trap all conservatism inside the reactionary right-wing ideology of the Christian Coalition with a permanent campaign that seeks to define that ideology as negative to the vast majority of the country that does not hold that ideology (it doesn't). Thus, our amalgamation of minorities will become the mainstream, while their homogenized national plurality becomes fringe.

As they continue to solidify and homogenize their base (with the exception of Latinos), we attack them precisely for being homogeneous. That is our unifying theme: anti-reactionary religious right, but pro-freedom, pro-good works, and pro-American. We drive a wedge straight into their coalition, and watch in delight as every libertarian Republican in sight comes over to our side. We decrease their already small share of minorities even further and humiliate them for their bigoted homogeny. We define and tarnish conservatism, and make our natural unifying theme that we are not them.

Wow, I almost feel dirty just for writing that, but I think it is what has to be done. I can't wait to see the comments on this one.

Tags: Demographics (all tags)



I'm impressed
By God, Chris Bowers, you've been posting with uncommon good sense post-election.  You're about the only Dem blog worth reading this week.

Bravo, sir!

by Mary Mary 2004-11-05 10:52AM | 0 recs
Can't edit
So I'll write another post.

Might I respectfully suggest you guys cease to  open your primary season with white white white Protestant Iowa and New Hampshire?

by Mary Mary 2004-11-05 10:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Can't edit
Agree. Start with florida and then go to NH then california.
by skatch 2004-11-05 11:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Can't edit
Agreed. A very, very good idea. I suggest New York. If NY is too big for people, I suggest Illinois. If that is still too big for people, I suggest they suck it up.
by Chris Bowers 2004-11-05 12:05PM | 0 recs
IL or MI more representative?
NY might be too northeast??? It is probably most representative of the party's membership, however.
by gregbillock 2004-11-05 01:00PM | 0 recs
Re: IL or MI more representative?
How about regional primaries whose order is rotated each year?  You know, of course, this is just idle speculation because the Dem Powers That Be would never allow it.
by Mary Mary 2004-11-05 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Primaries.
I would prefer to see newer, different primaries - I like the rotation idea - but promoting the idea would alienate Iowans and New Hampshire...ites?  Whatever you call them: the primaries may be annoying, but they are also undoubtedly important to the economies of these small states.  Also, I think mucking with the primary schedule might mess up other state races.  Maybe we can trick the GOP into reinventing the primaries process itself?
by liz 2004-11-05 04:53PM | 0 recs
Re: Can't edit
THAT is an excellent suggestion, but not simply due to Iowa's religious/ethnic demographics.

Let's face it, any candidate who wins Iowa & New Hampshire is perceived as having "momentum," and voters quickly jump on that person's bandwagon, leading to an almost inevitable win of the nomination. Even when there's real competition for a while during primary season, the race is often wrapped up before most states ever get a chance to vote!

One could solve that by having all primaries on a single day, but I don't think that's the solution either. It would require tons of money and a huge organization for a candidate to compete nationwide simultaneously, and few could manage that so early in the race.

We could also have party leaders choose someone for us.  But the "smoke-filled room" method is not appreciated by many, for obvious good reasons.

I don't know the solution, but it seems like a popularity contest in Iowa & NH locking us in to a nominee isn't the way to do it.

by Horq 2004-11-05 02:17PM | 0 recs
The Right Is Wrong and Dangerous
"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists, is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents."
                   -- Robert F. Kennedy

"People say I am ruthless. I am not ruthless. And if I find the man who is calling me ruthless, I shall destroy him."
                   -- Robert F. Kennedy

"Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly."
                   -- Robert F. Kennedy

This is how we bludgeon the right.  Make it about them, not us.

by LionelEHutz 2004-11-05 11:00AM | 0 recs
Re: We have to change the debate
I agree with much of what you are saying Chris.  To me it comes down to re-framing the debate.  I've heard a lot of stuff over the past 4 days about how we need to accomodate the religious or lean more to the right, but then all we do is become an annex of the Republican Party.  We need to change the way we present our ideas and we need to follow Lakoff's lead on this.

First thing's first: the term liberal, if it's not dead, is on life support.  They've killed it, or at least mortally wounded it (for now at least).  When we've gotten to the point that the Bush campaign can just throw that word in an attack ad and it comes off as a natural pejorative (I wanted to throw things at my TV when I saw those "John Kerry and his Liberal Allies" ads), then we've got a problem.  To me, the term progressive is outstanding, it's a great frame; who isn't against progress?  This idea that we just show people the facts and let them speak for themselves is not working.  People don't respond to that because that philosophy has, at it's roots, the underpinnings of what Voltaire and Locke and others in the enlightenment believed, that people are, at heart ruled by reason.  I know that, for me, it's enough to see the facts and it probably is for most people on this board, but for people in general it's not.  Just look at the PIPA study that showed that 75% of people who were voting for Bush believed that Iraq was supporting Al-Qaeda.  You can't reach these people with facts and reason.

I believe that we have great ideas for this country, our problem is this: we can't sell it the way they do (at least not yet).  They've painted liberals as the people who want to take away all your money through taxes and give them to someone who is just sitting at home not earning it.  There's a reason Bush has referred to his tax cuts as "Tax Relief".  It's a much better context by which to sell it.  We need to frame taxes as "Tax Investment", which really makes sense when you think about it:  when you pay taxes you are investing in the roads and schools and towns you live in.  This is an investment because the better those things are, the higher home values and such are. You can attack conservatives on this and portray them as greedy by asking, "why do you want to get all of the benefit of good schools, good, roads, high property values, without paying your share?" Now, I'm overall neutral on taxes, sometimes they need to raised, sometimes they need to be lowered, but the problem I have with what's going on is that this conservative context that taxes are bad because it's your money and the government shouldn't take them away is becoming accepted as doctrine.

All of these things may not have been enough to replace a sitting wartime President (no matter how incompetent he is).  However, we need to take a long-term, movement-oriented approach to this.  This election, to me, symbolizes the ascendancy of the Religious Right, a movement that started to really catch some steam in the 90's.  But we have the opportunity to make it mean something much, much more: That this was the election that the sleeping giant finally woke up and began to really fight conservatives to take back the national debate.  In that sense, this "loss" could eventually lead to victory, but it's up to us.

by 2manyids 2004-11-06 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: We have to change the debate
I mean to say "who is against progress?"  But I'm sure you knew what I meant.
by 2manyids 2004-11-06 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: We have to change the debate
However much we may try to "reframe" the issue, we're not going to be able to get away from the "L-word."  We tried this election. (Did anyone ever see Kerry refer to himself as liberal?  Did you see anyone in the Democratic campaign do so?  Neither did I.)  As a matter of fact, we've been running away from the "L-word" ever since at least 1984, and  probably 1976.  Has the image gone away, even after all this time?

We may try to call ourselves "progressive" or any other such term, but you can be sure any Republicans running against us will be quick to label us as "liberal, liberal, liberal," just as they always do.  Unless we jettison all our core beliefs and turn into, not "Republican-Lite," but "Republican-HEAVY," there's no way we'll be able to convince voters that we really aren't liberal after all -- which makes us look not only liberal but deceptive, and implies that we, too, secretly believe that being liberal is something shameful.

No, however we may try to evade it, the "L-word" is going to be stuck on us for the indefinite future, at least until it stops being effective as a smear.  It seems to me that the only choices we have are a) determining that there's no way to win if we're considered liberal, and therefore move so far to the right that we bear no resemblance to any Democratic Party of the past 140 years, or b) determine to embrace and defend the "liberal" label until it ceases to be an insult and once again becomes merely a value-neutral description.

by JDWalley 2004-11-06 04:51PM | 0 recs
Re: We have to change the debate: the L-word
(replying to JDWalley)

This just might work. Taking over a pejorative label has been done many times before. I remember when "conservative" (not even ultraconservative or radical conservative or neo-conservative) was a dirty word. Now the conservatives rule most branches of government. But notice how right-wing organizations seldom call themselves conservative, although sometimes republican.

by Hong Kong Chevy 2004-11-07 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: We have to change the debate: the L-word
Didn't Clinton in 1992 take George HW. Bush head on duing the debates about the liberal label and laugh at him for using it as a negative?
by LionelEHutz 2004-11-07 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: We have to change the debate
Stop some of that religious talk, i'm 70 yrs old & the democratic party used to be considered the "party of the people".  By the time bush get's through putting the knife in the people we may be seen again as "the party of the people".   We just need to relearn how to sell it.  I've never heard so much talk about religion since JFK ran and it was feared the Pope would run the country. Push bush to do his gay marriage amendment, it won't happen & it will kill all the talk & make him look insincere. I think our proplem is not so much religion as a blustery attitude that America has developed that we should run the world & wipe out all the "bad guys". Until Fox I never heard the term bad guys used indiscussions on TV. Just shows how base our national debate has become. Like 10 year olds playing cops & robbers/cowboys & indians that's where the bad guy talk always was until the last few years. I contend the Iraq thing has nothing to do with anything other than Americans feel Saddam stuck his thumb in our eye in '91 & have been itching to get him ever since. Bush could have left off all the WMD talk and just said lets sic'em & 60% of American would have said yeah lets go. I think we have to come down off our high horse & learn to be citizens of the world again.  Maybe a serious defeat in Iraq is in store for us & we will again be chastised as we were following the Vietnam debacle. It's taken all these years to develop hubris again.
Also stop some of gnashing of the teeth, the Democrats are the party of the Marshall Plan, the GI bill, social security, and on & on. Go back & study the history of the party for guidance as to where to go with it,perhaps remind people where we might be without the dems. Keep the baby, throw out the bathwater.
by floridawave 2004-11-07 08:48PM | 0 recs
This feels right
Of all the suggestions I've been reading, your comments about re-defining conservatism strike the right chord. Self-identified conservatives gained in the 80s due to the wonderful job the right did defining us liberals as pansies, socialists, and welfare-lovers.  We need to turn it around.

I talked to my sister, who has found God in her life and become quite religious, about the election and she's upset about the Christian right and their intolerance. She hates how they've ignored Christ and gone for the hellfire. She's who we reach out to.

Due to your posts I've been using the phrases "intolerant conservatives," "homophobic Republicans," "hate-filled and greedy conservatives" - using the word conservative or Republican with a negative word, but there's got to be some terms we can come up with that hit them right where it hurts. Terms that make "tax and spend liberal" seem rather benign.

by Erin in Flagstaff 2004-11-05 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: This feels right
We call them nose-poking Republicans around here.  Meaning there isn't anything about your private life they don't want to poke your nose into.
by Mary Mary 2004-11-05 11:11AM | 0 recs
"...they don't want to poke THEIR noses into"  
by Mary Mary 2004-11-05 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: This feels right
radical right
by Carol 2004-11-05 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: This feels right
Works for me and you, but not for everyone. These people are reactionary, but lots of people may not understand what the word reactionary means.  As for radical right, I think it makes it seem like only a small extreme group of people are radical.  

The word conservative needs to be hurt just as the word liberal was harmed. We need to frame the issues as conservatives are BAD - be a good person and join us.

by Erin in Flagstaff 2004-11-05 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: This feels right
I really like reactionary, but Erin might be correct as well. Its something we need to keep working on.
by Chris Bowers 2004-11-05 12:05PM | 0 recs
Re: This feels right
I prefer Radical Right. The people who hijacked the Republican party are the radicals, and they're indoctrinating the moderates.

It's important not to call every religious person intolerant. Only to make them see that hatred is a radical, extremist, ugly thing they should recoil from.

At worst, I guess we can remind people to "hate the sin, love the sinner". You don't have to agree with homosexuality, but you do have to accept people as individuals deserving of civil rights.

by Green Irishboy 2004-11-05 12:21PM | 0 recs
I agree
What lost us the election wasn't the fact that the GOP appealed to the homophobes and other bigots, but the fact that we haven't forced them to face the consequences of making that appeal.  We let them make their appeals to the Christian right under the radar, while the frontman (Bush) talks on TV and in the newspapers about tax cuts and tort reform.  

We can't be afraid to make the debate about gay rights and other minority issues.  Instead, we must embrace that debate and make it clear just how different we are from them and how offensive their positions are.  We can't let them get away with having it both ways -- appealing to both the bigots and to a sizable portion of people who are appalled by bigotry.  We must make the latter group truly get their heads around how much the party is controlled by the former.  The fact that 8% of the GOP's coalition is secular, for example, is unacceptable.  We must make it so that all secular people vote for us as long as the GOP embraces an explicitly Christian and intolerant worldview.  And that won't happen if we're content to argue about health care and taxes and terrorism and leave all the talk about "moral values" to them.

by SamCham 2004-11-05 11:11AM | 0 recs
Non-Hateful People of Faith
Chris is absolutely right. Now all we have to do is get this point through to the press, which treats even the most extreme fundegelical zealot around as a spokesperson for all organized religions in America (and for some of the disorganized ones as well).

The religious right is a big bully these days, so we need to cut them down to size by working with mainstream churches of the National Council of Churches strain, plus all these non-crazy Catholics, and Reform Jews, and so on.

And we MUST get it into some very thick skulls of the press and in politics that not all people of faith are homophobic people of hate. Because, the way things are going, the current bunch is not terribly far away from gaining major power. Once they're entrenched, we can look forward to many years under the thumb of the American Taliban.

by S1 2004-11-05 11:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Non-Hateful People of Faith
I think a large portion of the politicos and press are not so much thick-skulled as scared out of their skulls of the conservative Mafia.
by Hong Kong Chevy 2004-11-07 09:12AM | 0 recs
The Christian Right is inherently anti-American
because their willingness to fundamentally alter the relationship between the individual, government,and religion, essentially forcing religion into the dominant role.  

Bush's words yesterday essentially told the 49% thatdidn't vote for him to submit.  

That's autocratic. That's fundamentally anti-American.

by LionelEHutz 2004-11-05 11:14AM | 0 recs
Them vs. not-them
You need to re-frame in order to not simply be the not-them party.

Whites have always framed the discussion in terms of white and non-white.  Oddly enough, even as the majority shrinks, that's still how it's framed.

How about instead, we represent humanity.  They represent:
a) non-humanity
b) inhumanity
c) absence of humanity
d) overlords of humanity

by technomage 2004-11-05 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Them vs. not-them
Sounds good. I think that we being "not them" works for internal discussions though, at least at the beginning of our new rhetoric. We can adjust as time goes on.
by Chris Bowers 2004-11-05 12:12PM | 0 recs
I agree/disagree
I agree that we should -- as clauswitz would recommend -- attack their base.  

However, I think that you're being glib about "White Protestants" -- you're putting Methodists, Lutherans and Presybertarians in with Evangelicals. This is not a monolithic group.  For example, there is a huge rift in the Presbertarian national church on the issue of gay elders.

My point is that I think we should

  1. try to organize in the white protestant churches.  It is a much more reliable base.  They go to the polls in higher numbers and typically have phone numbers, emails, etc. and are already organized.  Labor Unions and Black Churches are either declining in influence or are suddenly getting competing resources (that's what the faith based initiative is all about -- GOP street money)  We haven't even tried to compete for the Protestant vote (and they are going after our religious base - Black congregrations and Latino Catholics).  The good news is that -- thanks to the GOPs -- white churches are now available targets for our organizers (they weren't before).

  2. Separate and divide the most extreme part of the White Protestant base (really hard core evangelicals) from the more traditional/tolerant base.  And, we should demonize the radicals who are giving Christianity a bad name within that group. Believe me, many White Protestants already feel this way.

  3. Go after the Catholic church with a permament campaign.  The US church is out of the mainstream.  We can put pressure on it from abroad and also try to separate out the Latino community (which -- remember -- is primarily Mexican American) from the conservative set of priests.  

  4. Get a more liberal pope elected when JP kicks it!
by lojo 2004-11-05 11:17AM | 0 recs
Re: I agree/disagree
the democrats lost southern states during/shortly after the civil rights movement in the 60s.

now im a simple man... but if those there racists in them thar southern states werent voting for democrats... then surely they have found  a home in the republican party ...

now my guess is .. that many of those (most?) white protestants in the south is the progeny of long lost  racists... yes folks i believe those god a fearin protestants is closet rascists.... i say smoke em out

by bluebudda 2004-11-05 03:01PM | 0 recs
What about the middle ground
The problem with this analysis is that it emphasises being 'other' all the time.

What Kennedy managed to do was appeal to the democratic 'American' within everyone. He did this without recourse to religious faith.

There are others - Martin Luther King is a supreme example, Clinton as lesser one, and Barack Obama a potential speaker - who use their beliefs in an inclusive way.

I am not a believer but I do believe that, as well as intolerance and bigotry, there is a great sense of inclusiveness in ALL the world religions.

So the question is less - do you (I only say 'you' because I'm a Londoner) try to capture the language of the religious right. The bigger question is how do you match the emotional impact of that appeal.

Leadership, in a representative democracy, is visceral aswell as cerebral. You elect someone you feel you can 'trust' to make the right decisions without having to go through every policy yourself. The electorate 'outsources' the decision making, and in times of crisis or on complex moral issues, you want someone who can 'feel' for a right solution as well as calculate the different interest groups. Somehow Bush managed to capture this voice in a way which Kerry never quite did.

The Democrats will never win Utah, but they must find a way of (genuinely) engaging heart and head. This doesn't mean cute photo opportunities or last minute appeals to the Catholic base, it has to do with believing that complex issues CAN be explained in clear language, and also not being afraid of passion in politics.

From my observations as a Brit, married to an American, this is the clear distinction between the US and all other European countries, despite all our cultural differences. You are still a nation of believers. The figures, and they are everywhere, bear this out.

I wish California, New England, Illinois could join the EU, but for the foreseeable future you'll have to live with this fact - America is a faith based society.

That doesn't mean faith should have a priority. Or that creationism should be given a place in school curricula. Or that bigotry and theocracy should hold sway.

But it does mean you have to appeal to some of the better 'social' values of soft Christians and reform Jews for that matter, and secular Muslims.

I don't think this is so hard... As I said I'm not a believer myself, but my mother was, and her faith drove her to become a social worker, and to fight poverty, inequality and distress.  It still baffles me how Jesus has been co-opted with guns, attacks on gays and the death penalty? How did Christianity come to express itself with the right to hunt, drill oil in Alaska, and drive SUV's?

It doesn't mean the Democrats have to pretend to be something they are not. But what is wrong with pointing out how venal, uncharitable and bigotted - in other words how 'Unchristian' - so many of the evangelical postions are.

I hope this helps, though I do realise that, as I don't vote in the US, my opinion doesn't really matter

by Londoner 2004-11-05 11:22AM | 0 recs
Re: What about the middle ground
But that's one thing that makes us Democrats . . . even though you're in London, we still think your opinion matters . . . ;-)

I agree with you. I think the Democrats need to do something positive.

Chris, I think you are making "White Protestant" into way too much of a homogenous voting bloc. After all, Kerry picked up a good percentage of them. The key demographic is "born again" and "Evangelical." They are a large group, but made up for by our base. But, there is a large group of "White Protestants" that do not fall under that rubric and can be peeled off from the Republican Party.

I think this whole "values" discussion runs off the rails sometimes when it focuses too much on religion. What the Democrats need to do is articulate some basic moral judgements about what we think is right. By ceding the "morality" argument, the entire discussion gets reduced to "gay marriage" and abortion. But that completely misses the point. Some people see John Kerry as the lesser on "moral values" because they see him as "saying anything to get elected" or "lacking core principles." That's what the GOP hangs on Democrats all the time, and the reason it works is because the Democratic brand identity doesn't have "core values" associated with it which the candidate can be perceived to be defending. If "Democrat" is associated with values, then a Democrat can be seen fighting a moral fight. Without that, it's difficult to not be seen as vacillating, or weak, or slippery, or just too "flexible" on what he or she believes. It's bullshit, but that's the way it works.

What the Democrats need to do is to come up with a vernacular for talking about what we believe in a way that conveys that moral fiber.  We believe things, now let's talk about what they are and why they are worth fighting for.

Oh, but we should also demonize the other side. Definitely right on there. In fact, it's two sides of the same coin. We have to say that we are right to be able to claim that they are wrong.

by BriVT 2004-11-05 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: What about the middle ground
I wish I could say it was just altruism that made me interested in this debate - it's also survival, self interest

The actions of the US affect us all (particularly I would say the British Government) so I rely on a sane, pragmatic but also high minded American foreign policy. And since your foreign policy is intimately connected with your governance and economy.. hey, you can see where this is going.

And though I hate what Bush is doing, I'm an admirer of American culture and the glory of the constitution (written by free born Englishmen), and also thankful for the lives you have lost in helping Europeans during many of their internecine conflicts - Kosovo probably being the most recent

by Londoner 2004-11-05 04:06PM | 0 recs
Re: What about the middle ground
Oh, certainly. At this point, it almost seems like the rest of the world should have some sort of say in American politics. The Westphalian idea of nation-state seems to be crumbling anyway, but Americans are stubbornly, frantically trying to hold on to it at home while ignoring it abroad.
by BriVT 2004-11-05 04:13PM | 0 recs
Re: What about the middle ground
By the way I totally agree with your posting and the clarity of the core values thing. Maybe democrats are afraid to express them because they feel they will lose votes in the South and rural areas. Or maybe the rainbow coalition needs to coalesce through the prism of defeat and come up with some clear shining themes.

The Labour Party went through a process of renewal after 19 years in the wilderness and FOUR consecutive defeats. But I'm hesitant to mention them here because the lessons might not be relevant.

by Londoner 2004-11-05 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: What about the middle ground
As I posted below, I am a white Protestant. I was always taught that Christianity means love thy neighbor, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In my family, these values are core of our politics as Democrats. These values lead to tolerance for others and acceptance.

I feel like these evangelicals have hijacked my faith, just like the Bushies have hijacked my country.

Someone like Obama speaks for me as Christian. This is language I understand, and it is also language that appears to have appealed to some evangelicals in Illinois.

I think we can talk the language of faith and be true to ourselves.

by mysteve 2004-11-05 07:39PM | 0 recs
Agreed, very good comments
And there are some good diaries over on on dKos as well.

A diary over there suggests, do NOT move to the Right.  I think I heard this on Air America today, too.  Start criticizing them for their intolerance, their hate.  These are basic tenets common to many faiths, including secular humanism.  They run against the "American" morality, as established in the Constitution, and views of a majority of Americans.

Freedom of the Press, Freedom to peaceably assemble, Freedom of religion.  Anything else is un-American.  When they go on and on about the second amendment, let's hit 'em with the First, between the eyes.

by hopeisonetheway 2004-11-05 11:27AM | 0 recs
Criticize them on the freedom issue
"Start criticizing them for their intolerance, their hate."

That won't work with the fundies. My wife's Lancaster County, PA, cousin has a bumpersticker reading "Truth, not Tolerance".

May I suggest another phrasing? Dear Leader's own words, remember, are "they hate our freedoms."

As another blog comment here or on DailyKos noted, all of the Constitutional Amendments that the GOP has proposed are government restrictions on our freedoms.

Criticize them for trying to increase government power to tell us what we can and cannot do. Compare them to Islamic clerics who wish to use government powers to enforce one fundamentalist interpretation of one single religion on an entire population.

They are the American Taliban. They cannot abide freedom of religion.

by Ottnott 2004-11-05 11:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Criticize them on the freedom issue
Some counter-sticker:

"Truth", without Tolerance is a Lie

Tolerance, then Acceptance, then Freedom

Liberals Love Liberty, Conservative Hate Freedom

by Green Irishboy 2004-11-05 12:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Criticize them on the freedom issue
This plays very well in the west.  We won a Colorado Senate Seat against Joe Coors.

We need to leave the guns alone and focus on personal freedom.  We can win the independents moderates.  

And we need to communicate this somehow.

by beeste 2004-11-05 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Criticize them on the freedom issue
Who in the Democratic party is exercised about gun control any more? It seems to me this the biggest non-issue in the Democratic platform. What about just getting rid of gun control language and instead framing restrictions on gun ownership in terms of anti-terrorism and security? i.e. you need to show ID to buy a gun so that we can check to make sure you aren't a terrorist who snuck across the border and are going to use it to shoot schoolkids the way they did in Russia.

Speaking of which, why don't the Democrats own the immigration issue? What constituency wants the Democratic party to be soft on illegal immigration? I'm not sure even the illegal immigrants are in favor of illegal immigration! This seems to me to fit in well with the Democrats' traditional defense of lower-income jobs in the U.S.

Immigration and guns are huge issues in NV, NM, AZ, CA, FL, and even (to a lesser degree) in TX, OK, CO, MO -- basically the West and Southwest.

by gregbillock 2004-11-05 12:58PM | 0 recs
Immigration issue
Because the 'immigration issue' has become a cover for a new breed of racial bigotry.  Groups like American Border Patrol spout hate speech, calling Latinos invaders, etc.  The natural constituency for the 'immigration issue' is the same as for 'moral values' candidates.  Having worked for a Latino elected official, and being part Mexican myself, I've seen the hate mail.  This is why Democrats haven't touched the 'immigration issue' in border states you mentioned.

That said, I think Latinos, Democrats, Republicans, etc. want to see our immigration system fixed.  I think the debate is just how (not that democrats are de facto for open borders or something like that.  Not at all.  Just something that isn't quite so xenophobic and racially motivated).

by DreadPirateKing 2004-11-05 01:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Immigration issue
I don't mean "immigration issue" as a code word, like "state's rights" is code for racism. I mean the actual issue of illegal immigration.

You bring up a good issue: how do Democrats talk about immigration and border control and define the language such that "immigration" isn't a euphemism for racism. My opinion is that for this, just talking about it sensibly is enough to drown out whatever code word associations are starting to form.

Better that than allowing the political language to get infected with a partner to 'state's rights' and 'strict construction' :-)

by gregbillock 2004-11-05 05:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Guns issue
Gun control is a yucky name. Suggests big brother controlling you. Someone suggested gun safety. Maybe there's a still better term, but it's certainly an improvement.
by Hong Kong Chevy 2004-11-07 08:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Criticize them on the freedom issue
YES! You are absolutely correct.  These people should be outed for the intolerant bigots they are.  We need bumber stickers, direct mail, radio, tv ...
by ItsHardWork 2004-11-05 12:52PM | 0 recs
New to this. I posted without the rest of Chris' entry becoming clear

Yes. Demonise the fundamentalists. On this I agree. I've already written elsewhere about the 'Apocalyptic thinking' contained in many evangelical sects. Like their counterparts in Islamic and Jewish fundamentalism, this ideology basically holds the world to be disposable, all institutions and constitutions to be temporary, and the only moment of truth is the final battle of good and evil. Only through this destruction will purity be born.

Hence the success of novels like the 'Left Behind' series. Hence the interest in Israel from the formerly antisemitic bible belt. They truly believe that the last coming is imminent, and that Armageddon is not just a concept, but a village 8 miles from Bethlehem.

Any one who would consign me and my children to eternal hellfire for our beliefs - or lack of faith - is capable of amazing violence.

by Londoner 2004-11-05 11:29AM | 0 recs
bravo, indeed
A newcomer to this blog and I'm blown away by the pitch-perfect articulation of this theme, one that I've been trying to formulate for a couple of day now--how to make ALL  Republicans take responsibility for the Taliban in their own party.


by stay at home dad 2004-11-05 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: bravo, indeed
Yes, Yes, The American Taliban-this is lable that's a "sticker"
by hopeisonetheway 2004-11-05 11:40AM | 0 recs
American Taliban
This was a label I heard from a republican judge, dismayed at the turn of his own party in the wake of Nov. 2.  It's a fitting label, for many reasons, exposing the hypocrisy #1.

Other Christain weapons: shame.  Shame these people by throwing Jesus at them.  While I don't think the Dem party needs to necessarily move to Jeruselum, it does need to become more fluent in the language.  And, as many have said, co-opt the language of values.  A good example: Values, now synonymous with "morality" (anti-gay, mighty white of you), should be shifted to mean nobility (ethical stand-up, forthright, honest, dutiful, charitable, generous, Christian, in the classical sense).  "Values" as used by neo-cons should be slanted to mean hateful, selfish, non-Christian. Maybe we should abandon the term altogether, and let them have it.  We should co-opt "noble" and make it ours. It's more fitting.

by Martin Finnucane 2004-11-05 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: American Taliban
check out the RFK memorial, coments by Kathleen Kennedy Townsed (scroll to the bottom).  This is exactly what she discusses in he comments.

Here's the link:

A teaser of the text:

There is a question about the degree to which we Democrats are able to link our religious and moral convictions to our political convictions. The Christian right, in fact, does that quite well. The left, I am afraid, does not. And yet there is a nationwide hunger for purpose and for meaning. The bestseller lists are filled with slim volumes offering answers. For those of us who believe that politics has an obligation to reflect our most cherished values, the life of Robert Kennedy offers an example of how we can connect the values of faith and progressivism. When he returned home from South Africa, he wrote an article attacking the legal institutions of racism, both at home and abroad. He titled it, "What if God is Black?"
by LionelEHutz 2004-11-05 11:42AM | 0 recs
I'd like to add-
that I really do think Kerry and Edwards both come across as tolerant men of faith.  I liked Kerry's response on abortion in the 2nd debate-that nailed it.  I liked that they both brought up homosexuals as if it was a NON-issue, which it should be.  It is the Right that demonized those statements.
by hopeisonetheway 2004-11-05 11:38AM | 0 recs
Kerry's response to abortion was AWFUL.
I completely disagree.  I was actively pissed off that what's-his-face made abortion question  the second-to-last question, but then he had that killer of a final question.  Anyway - Kerry's response on the issue of abortion was HORRIBLE and played HORRIBLY out here in the red states.  I'm pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, but I'm also a Catholic and I used that in phone banking to establish rapport with people concerned about abortion.  

Anyway: Kerry's response plays very well to people who are pro-choice.  It DOES NOT play well to people who are "pro-life" or on the fence, particularly not when they've been "wedged" with this horrible, stupid stupid "partial-birth" abortion ossue.  It's a non-issue to me, but look at the success of the Republican right: it's now an issue to an awful lot of people.  I specifically had voters mention "partial-birth" abortion as their reason to vote for Bush, and some of these people were reasonable.  Some were looking for a reason to vote Kerry.

IMHO, that was Kerry's worst answer.  It didn't lose the election (I think we've misunderestimated the radical right for too long; there I was - all along - believing that we would SHATTER them with this election and the Republicans would be the ones having to rethink their party and positions in order to become nationally relevant once more.  I was wrong.  But that's okay.  We'll win.)

I think we have to come up with a new strategy for the "partial-birth abortion" crap.  Reason (to preserve the health of the mother/there's no such thing as partial-birth abortion) does not work with a fair portion of the country, because they react in visceral, emotional ways to the issue. We've been trying those responses for years, and we've played into the right wing's hands.  I don't have solutions yet, but I think we might have to abandon this issue - or maybe insert little poison pills into the language of each such bill - and a few similar things on the choice front, in order to reframe the issue and win the larger war.  

It's time to take a lesson from the radical right on these wedge issues; we can diffuse theirs and create some of our own.

by liz 2004-11-05 05:11PM | 0 recs
This is exactly what I've been thinking.  Come up with some good words to tie to "conservative" -- "conservative fascists," "conservative zealots," "conservative bigots," "conservative homophobes," "conservative racists" and NEVER use the C word without them.  We have to go on the attack.  Besides, it's not even the wrong thing to do in this case -- this is the fight for our future, to protect the world from a theocratic superpower!  I think we can call them out on this.
by rawk 2004-11-05 11:39AM | 0 recs
Message - Values two seperate issues...
The criticism I have heard all week is that Dems need to find a' values message' of their own. The implication being that we need to find religion too. In reality this problem is really two issues coupled together and somewhat interdependent. And it has little to do with religion unless we want it to...

I don't know who said it first but it is one of my favorite sayings...

"BAD ideas beat NO ideas everyday and twice on Sunday".

In this last election you knew what Bush stood for...'National security, conservative Christian faith and low taxes'. A lot of what they proposed people thought were bad ideas... Iraq, tax cuts leading to budget deficits... etc.

What was Kerry's theme? `Sort of the same as him but I'm not him, I'm competent.' Without elaborating on the obvious, it wasn't enough. The people I knew looked at this as NO ideas... no NEW ideas anyway... And he lost as we know.

Now we hear many Dems saying we should have been more like them? More faith, more security, even lower taxes... If we had followed that path I think Kerry would have lost by much more... Truman said it best:

"Give the American people a choice between a Republican and a Republican and they will chose the Republican every time..."

And while I agree with Chris that being 'not them' is important, I also think basing our identity solely on collections of anti-this and ant-that is VERY dangerous unless we have at least a few  NON-anti principles as glue. Otherwise it is too easy for the opposition to drive a wedge between a group or two and shatter the coalition.

Once a set of values and core principles are agreed upon then the `message' part follows pretty easily.

So I think the key over the next few months and years is to determine and build on a set of values & principals (other than our disgust for the GOP and religious right, that we aren't them). Once this is determined and FRAMED the message supporting it will spring forth almost naturally.

by dryfly 2004-11-05 11:40AM | 0 recs
Religious fanatacism is inherently undemocratic, and inherently unamerican. We need to attack as hard as they have attacked. harder. we need to put them on the stand just as darrow put bryan on the stand. pummel home the ignorance, the bigotry and the essentially totalitarian character of their philosophy, and make the other 75 percent recoil.
by mays24 2004-11-05 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: absolutely
Remember that the puritans who left England for the new world were, in many ways, religious fanatics. They, however, fled religious persecution because they did not want to be forced into following the Church of England.

The people who founded our nation (the descendants of the puritans and later immigrants), who wrote the constitution, were wise enough to ensure that religion and government did not become one so that people would not be subjected to governmentally sanctioned religious persecution.

by LionelEHutz 2004-11-05 11:55AM | 0 recs
Re: absolutely
The odd thing about this separation of church and state is that it made American preachers much more active. They had to SELL their religion. And in this way religion was kept alive, and not discredited, in the same way it was in Europe.

American Christianity, from the Second Awakening onward, is also highly inventive. The fastest growing church is the Church of Latter Day Saints (and look at Bush's vote tally in Utah). This is truly an invented American religion, with it's own lost American tribe and American scripture.

Who said that fundamentalism is inherently unamerican.

by Londoner 2004-11-05 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: absolutely
If we don't pummel them on this now, who knows where it will lead, if it's not already too late.

I do like "american taliban," but we also need to destroy the word "conservative."  We need to get it to a point where no one will want to identify themselves as one.

by rawk 2004-11-05 12:05PM | 0 recs
Big Media and a Common Ground
[Sorry, last re-post, I promise, but this fits best on this thread...]

Right before the Wisconsin Primary debate, I posted on Blog for America how I thought Howard Dean could dramatically re-shape the race with his own Sistah Souljah moment...

I wanted him to use a big news story, Janet Jackson and the Super Bowl, to get Howard some headlines and I thought I found an intellectually consistent way to do it.

Everyone thought I was crazy...

I wanted him to link the view by some in this society that there has been a downward spiral of violence and vulgarity in popular culture to the view by others that the media had been letting us down in their reporting of the news...

I wanted him to tag John Kerry (who was getting big support from Sumner Redstone owner of Viacom and CBS, as the candidate of Big Media -- and to tag Bush with this in the general election, too).

The Right and Left come together in their concern about Big Media Corporate Consolidation. It is something that, for different reasons, social conservatives, media critics, and anti-corporate populists can all agree...

Joe Klein was saying on Air America yesterday that Middle America is working long hours and is forced to leave their kids in front of the TV and that they feel powerless against "Liberal Hollywood" and their ability to influence their children's morals and values in the current climate.

But who's really responsible?

Corporations like FOX networks, who on the one hand preach RNC talking points, but who have been the chief architects of the dumbing down of American culture.

And corporate execs like Sumner Redstone, who owns Viacom and CBS, supported Kerry in the Primaries and then switched to endorse Bush in the general.

It is not the liberal Hollywood elite -- it is unrestrained corporate profiteering...

It is not liberals, but Republican supporting corporations.

I'm not saying this as eloquently as I would like, and I apparently didn't in February since nobody wanted to discuss it...

But if we want to start peeling some support away from the Republican corporate power structure in this country, and we want to stop having elections on God, guns, and gays... And we want to start appealing to families with confederate flags on their cars who don't have jobs or healthcare...

Then I think this is a solid place to start.

Still sound crazy?

by Vermonter 2004-11-05 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Big Media and a Common Ground
Still sound crazy?

Nope. Might be the only post that makes any sense. You can "frame" all day long, in iambic pentameter, nobody will hear you.  Dems are overwhelmingly the largest voting bloc in almost all the major cable markets, yet they have no voice. Why? Partly because the way it is marketed, with bundled channels, we are forced to subsidize our own enemies. Allowing consumers to purchase only the channels they want is the first step and the those on the right will help. But, remember this isn't about the fairness doctrine or equal time, its about "family values".

by hardhat 2004-11-06 05:10AM | 0 recs
Values Debate
I agree that the Democratic Party should not change its principals.  We need to change the way we present these principals.   The party has values that are not being discussed, for to long
we have relied solely on issues and thought that work.   We need to discussing our values.  The right does not oppose gay marriage, they support
discrimation and hatred, we support justice for
all.  We support telling the truth about our policies, not lies to push a war of choice.
To begin this debate we must understand it's not the issues that cost us sourthern votes in the last couple of elections.  It is a lack of understanding of the cultures and linguistics.
I live in N.C. and a number of callers on Wednesday that voted for Bush, said they voted
against their economic interests.  They voted
not to change horses in the middle of a war, because of cultural differences, no northern
President telling them what to do, and religion.
Bill Clinton was successful becuase he could speak the language, apply empathy and folksiness
to his policies.  

There are more factors to this change that I will discuss later.

by ncpatriot04 2004-11-05 12:08PM | 0 recs
We need to to be able to attack the corrupt, manipulative and hypocritical right-wing politicians without attacking their religion.  Because the gay marriage issue is not really religious.  It's "moral" as they say, but it's not a Christ-centered issue.  And if you confuse the religion with the issue, then you make the same mistake the right-wingers make with the Muslim world.

Attack bigotry, sure.  Attack hate and embrace compassion.  But I would be very very hesitant to embrace a strategy of hating the fundamentalists.  Because that would be impossible to control and it will be doomed to failure.  We are not about hating people based on their religion.

Here's an experiment.  Find a friend who's a regular mainline protestant church-goer.  Explain your strategy of "demonizing" people based on their religious beliefs.  Watch them recoil in horror!  And lose another moderate vote because you've just insulted Christianity once again.

by Christopher 2004-11-05 12:10PM | 0 recs
I agree but..
As someone who has had no problem being considered an atheist for many many years, I agree that we are battling the religious-right.  But i still think we should do everything we can not to alienate our devout liberal christians.  We need to frame the debate in relativism vs absolutism.  They are the elite, because they absolutely think they are the only ones going to heaven.  We need to stand up and tell everyone that George W Bush doesn't care about the Iraqis, because he believes they are all damned.  He can be homophobic, because homosexuals are sinners who are already on a path to entirenal suffering.  We need to make it clear that George W Bush believes being a good person does not give you salvation, only his belief system does.  

But if they get their righteousness from God, why bother to enforce it on earth?  Didn't God also give us minority rights in their worldview?  This is why we have a bill of rights, this is why we have checks and balances, its not mob rule, we believe in some greater ideal than just rule by the majority.  Democracy is not just rule by the majority, it is also recognizing truth, justice, and equality, and to the religous person, this can be framed as 'god given rights'.  We need to try to take back personal freedom, responsibility and privacy to some extent.

Framing the debating against absolutism attacks both the religous-right AND the neoconservatives.  Things are not black and white.  Relativism should be something we take pride in, something we attack them for not having, it should not be something that is twisted into 'flip flopping'.  

by inst 2004-11-05 12:12PM | 0 recs
Don't Fight on Their Terrain
Forget the phony religiousity of the right. Our problem is getting people to vote on our issues. Alot of the people who considered 'moral issues' most important in this election would have considered the war in Iraq more important if they could point to something that Kerry would have done different than Bush on Iraq.
by lynfidel 2004-11-05 12:13PM | 0 recs
Secular Religion
But why are we arguing about religion?  We all already share a common, secular religion.  We are all Americans and we all worship the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights (or at least we all claim we do).  So why are we trying to appeal to something that we don't share when we have plenty that we do share?  I just don't get it.  

If someone wants to ban gay marriage, show them our foundation documents and ask them to base their opinions on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Tell them that ALL our laws are based on these fundamentals and that we can't change these documents based on religious beliefs.  We have to have something more common and substantial than that.  

Ten years ago the right-wingers were strict constructionists.  Now they are abandoning Constitutional principles altogether in favor of Biblical rule.  That's what we should fight!

by Christopher 2004-11-05 12:16PM | 0 recs
I'd like to see a campaign that...
gets going soon and lasts for years...with inspiring and positive messages -- ads and music and art and films and posters and internet art -- about the Democratic party and who we are. We could have some great images and sounds that really show how we include and not exclude. That we are diverse and kind, welcoming and strong. That we all rise together and overcome fear together (images of helping with disaster clean up or putting up a barn or 9/11 images).  Work accomplished with many hands/faces of many colors, ages and gender.  Families of all configurations. Strong, happy people. Show that we're proud of ourselves, and everyone is welcome to join us. (I bet we could even get permission to show the Grinch with his heart expanding.)

Couple the above with contrasting the pettyness, fearfulness, and pinched and hardened hearts and souls of the fundamentalist right...   and then let people know they can be better than that...  be real Christians.  Have big souls. Have no fear. Have the courage to open their hearts.

Hollywood could pitch in by making some similarly themed movies...   musicians could help too and graffiti artists... and... and... all of us. It's our work, it's our job now.

I think it could work. It'll take some resources and a well-thought out plan. It should be very extensive and multi-pronged. It should be grassroots AND organized from the top. We'll never stop, never give up, never turn our backs on anyone.

some slogans:
"I'm Not Afraid To Be Free."  or
"I'm Not Afraid Of Freedom."  or just
"I'm Not Afraid."

by sarany 2004-11-05 12:17PM | 0 recs
labeling them will not get us their votes
You have identified some characterisitc that unite them.

To be successful we must get some of the people within that umbrella grouping to feel that it is more important to vote on some issue advanced within our coalition.

They have mobilies this grouping of people to feel that all of their problems are better addressed with a quasi-religous leader who shared their views.

However, we need to make the case that some policy stand that we have is an even more important issue for them, like the deficit, or the un-managable war in Iraq, etc.

Kerry's campaign was not as successful in this as they might have been if Kerry had the full courage of his convictions.

In my view, if he were a bit more like Dean in advancing his positons and a little less inclide to run to the middle ground he might have been able to divid and counquer their electroal grouping around some issue they agree with us on.

HOWEVER, AGAIN, I REPEAT; we are losing because we are not defeating their tactic, that of stealing votes, denying and surpressing our vote, surpressing our message with a phony bogus election narrative and right wing noise box spin.

This whole "values" discussion that has cropped up doe nothing but play into their strength and we can not win that way.

by leschwartz 2004-11-05 12:27PM | 0 recs
Using their own language to challenge them will.  Open up the hypocrisy from the inside out.
by PocketNines 2004-11-05 03:13PM | 0 recs
Unifying Theme = Pocketbook
I agree that the democratic tent is much broader than the republican's. That has been the case for at least 30 years.  What sets this election apart from any other is the shadow of 9/11 and the republican's exploitation of that event.  In addition, the democrats have ceded the "values" debate.  Its just assumed they have values, dems don't.  Its absurd.  Kerry tried a few times to point out that its deeds that count, not just words and not just a president who holds his stomach when he says "you know my core values".  In order to win, and win we will, the dems need a very strong leader in both houses to forcefully communicate the democratic vision and to hold this administration to account.  In 2008 we need a candidate who will take on the values debate and turn it into a pocketbook debate.  We value all families by making sure you have jobs that pay well and health care, etc.  The Dems should not try to get the Christian conservative vote.  They are intollerant, closed minded and don't share the goals of the progressive movement.
by ItsHardWork 2004-11-05 12:27PM | 0 recs
It's not about "becoming religious"
You and many are misunderstanding this.

It's about discussing your policies in terms of  moral values - and not exclusively.   You can talk numbers and policy outcomes, too.      It's about having an underpinning for your policy choicesthat isn't strictly rational or economic.    It's about stating...or framing....why it's "right" to make the choices we do.

You don't even have to use the word 'God'.     Though it's nice once in a while.

Don't belittle this idea by throwing it in the bin as a call to merely "become religious".

And you're right, we CAN demonize the intolerant right.    There's a value right there:  tolerance.    The human family is deep and wide, and we have a great country where all are welcome, where all must have freedom and an equal chance at success, and will be rewarded for good effort....etc.

by Andmoreagain 2004-11-05 12:41PM | 0 recs
By and large very good
What is interesting about this analysis is that it jibes with Mark Schmidtt's analysis of how Kerry should govern should he win; the goal is to split the Republican party.

A couple of comments
 * You are correct that the unreachable voters are the absolutists on social issues. We must make gay-bashing unacceptable the way we made racism and discrimination unacceptable in the 1960.
 * I think you are underestimating the value of a Christian Left. While the single-issue values voters are unreachable, it is important to reframe Christian "values" as things other than abortion and hating gay people. It is important to demonstrate to white voters who believe in God that there are Democrats who believe in God too. By and large, people want to think of themselves as tolerant, and that means they must identify their "values" as tolerance, a chance for the poor and hard working, and fair play against the Big Guy.
 * We should either force the Republican party to pick up the War on Drugs again, or do it ourselves. Tackling Crystal meth would earn lots of good will in large parts of Rural America.
 * I'll give my two cents on who should run in 2008, which is Richardson-Warner or vice versa. This prevents further backsliding among Latin Americans and pushes Virginia into the Democratic column.

by niq 2004-11-05 12:47PM | 0 recs
Agree, but....
I think it is a great idea to attack their base and love the phrase "American Taliban".  But we must be very careful to not look like we are attacking Christianity itself, only the most extreme fundamentalists who want to form a new theocracy.

Simultaneously, we need to provide our own vision and highlight our own values.  The articulated values I suggest are:

1. We are morally obligated to pass on to our grandchildren a better world than the one we inherited.

This is why we fight for the environment, education and don't believe we should pass huge debts on to our children.  This is why we invest in the infrastructure of our country.

2. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

We must treat all people with respect, fight for their rights, stand up for those without a voice.  The Golden Rule is easy and meaningless when dealing with friends, family and those like yourself, its power in application comes when dealing with those you disagree or don't understand.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..."

"I may not agree with what you say, but I'll fight for your right to say it."

3. Understanding is reached through reason, openness, discourse and criticism: The Enlightenment.

We believe in the philosophy of enlightened reason, the philosophy on which this country was founded, the philosophy that powers democracy, science and capitalism.  No person holds a monopoly on truth.

by Mark Matson 2004-11-05 12:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Agree, but....
Yes, the arguments MUST be lifted out of directly familiar language.  The Golden Rule is something that all Christians know, and it isn't something that the rest of the Democratic base would feel alienated by.
by PocketNines 2004-11-05 03:24PM | 0 recs
Been there, done that
Chris, most of what you write is brilliant, but this one missed the boat. One of the things we value is unity, and one of the things we dislike about conservative thought is the necessity of dividing the country into good people and evil people. Who would you be expecting to win over by making the divisions even more visceral than they already are?

Your focus on religion is a right-wing trap, that one has to believe in a certain religion to have values. We know that's not true.

We value things like diversity, freedom, fairness, statesmanship, responsibility, honesty, and innovation. Some of us find justification for many of these values in our faith, while others have come to accept these values in other ways. Many of us who feel very strongly about these values might not feel so strongly about our religion.

I disagree that we can't hope to reach white protestants, because religion isn't the only factor that motivates them. Many are motivated by economic issues for one thing, and many would applaud our promotion of the values I've listed above if only we were better spokespeople for them.

If we are simply "anti-them", then we would appear, to the marginal observer, as though we reject all the values they promote. That simply isn't true. Most of us do value faith, self-discipline, and personal morality, in addition to the other things I listed.

My own Republican relatives and friends see this as one of the biggest problems they have with Democrats, that because we disagree with Bush on many things we seem to insist on rejecting every single thing he stands for. They think I'm anti-faith, for example, and of course I'm not. We just have a broader view of values, morality, and ethics than they do.

So to me, the way to win over more people is to stop being "anti-them", but instead ignore "them" and start promoting the ideals we believe in that they have neglected, most of which are widely supported by every demographic.

by pdt 2004-11-05 12:53PM | 0 recs
Their rationale in voting Republican is somehow buttressed by an idea that it's what Jesus would do.  You have to fundamentally win the argument on WWJD or HWJV (how would Jesus vote) that the answer is Democrat, and explain what he would reject and embrace.  That is the only way to siphon off the fair minded among the white Protestant GOP voters, of which there are many.

You just don't hear Democrats making the arguments that Jesus would vote Democrat before he'd vote Republican.  IMO, you need to, and you can do it in a way that isn't off-putting to the rest of your base.

by PocketNines 2004-11-05 03:20PM | 0 recs
Let me propose a dichotomy
We can choose the approach suggested by Chris or we can choose the approach suggested by Barak Obama.

We can attempt to turn their tactic of demonizing the "other" against them or we can reach out with a faith based values message of our own that is more truthful, more powerful and more persuasive.

I think the answer is getting more comfortable with liberal faith based language and issues. If you want to see how we can kick their butt on faith based issues let me suggest "The Soul of Politics: A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change" by Jim Wallis linked text

"Soul of a Citizen" by Paul Rogat Loeb is another excellent book.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-06 04:37AM | 0 recs
Great ideas, but do not...
...marginalize or dismiss the opportunity to put lefties with faith to work - no one will ever be able to demonize the religious right without using their own language to do it. Anything else and your going to have a bunch of people crying martyrdom (the Romans found this out).

Send in the spiritual warriors who can talk the talk and relate to the average-person-of-faith's mental processes and concerns. Know right now, that THEIR FAITH (however stupid it may seem to you), IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN POLITICS CAN EVER BE. That is what you're up against.

It doens't have to be at the forefront of everything, but somewhere along the line you have to have someone bring them from whatever understanding they're at now, to some other understanding. Skipping steps is impossible, because if you try to just dismiss their faith or their blaspheming leaders of faith they will cling more tightly.

I've been involved with the ongoing discussion in those Kos diarys. What we are pushing for is is not to create a "fundamentalist left" that becomes its own totalitarian movement. It along the lines of the Marketing/PR attack via lefty people of faith (all faiths included). Secular lefties have nothing to fear about letting their peers of faith operate independently to undercut the hijacking of the bible that the fundamentalist right has done to gain political advantage.

As long as secular lefties don't try to marginalize those of faith (something I've personally felt before), it's going to be a big gain in the area of "morality". We're well capable of whacking the fundamentalist right upside their discriminatory heads with their own bible so that the larger percentage of well-meaning, but politically un-astute folks of faith can see the inherent hipocrisy. We could use a little support though (which just means a high-five every once in a while and not treating us like pariahs).

Political Physics
by cgilbert01 2004-11-05 12:58PM | 0 recs
Great post
I agree completely.
by Andmoreagain 2004-11-05 01:09PM | 0 recs
Re: Excellent, excellent response.
Brilliant.  I completely agree.

If secular lefties want to start attacking the Pharisees, be smart about it and do it in a secular manner.  Expose their hypocrisies and fraud, their lavish lifestyles and anything else they're hiding.  Some literary exposés of Benny Hinn, the promisekeepers, and others like them would rock.  They can even be framed as a defense of the believers.  "We just want believers to know where their money is going."  

Maybe Michael Moore can target the worst of the exploitationist churches and networks himself for his next movie - but he might be too heavy handed w/the subject, though.  Remember PTL?  Remember Jimmy Falwell?  Has Ralph Reed had an affair?   Is his security detail covering it up?  Etc.

(I spent about 10 minutes watching Benny Hinn tonight explain how - once he gave his last ten cents to god, god rewarded him with big bucks! loads of donates! and how he needs SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS to translate his horrible, exploitationist charlatan show into Arabic.  Some of these guys are true believers, but plenty of others are old fashioned confidence men exploiting faith for gain.)

by liz 2004-11-05 05:33PM | 0 recs
Great Idea
Yes, Yes, Yes.... we must appeal to the true religious believers that what the republicans believe and say is very unchristian, unethical and wrong. Isn't killing wrong, shouldn't we love our neighbor... start these dialogs within the churches. If the churches respond that the end justifies the mean, then point out again, this flies in the face of christianity and just about every other religion.

We can and must use their "whiteness" and lack of diversity against them. Make conservative and right wing dirty words. It won't be easy since the conservatives own the mainstream airwaves. Enlist the young people who came out to vote for the first time. We don't want them to be so disappointed that they say "what's the use". In fact, lets go after the 14-16 group, they'll vote next time!

by CAmom2 2004-11-05 01:00PM | 0 recs
Edwards' future speech
John Edwards in 2008:  "We live in the red and blue states that value Fair, Honest and Effective government. A government we can respect as much as we respect Hard Work.  Those other people...those people... they want to you to Fear the very values we learn in the bible.  The values we Know are right and just."
by carsick 2004-11-05 01:04PM | 0 recs
Expose them for the freaks they are.Expose their fundamental inconsistencies..Last time i checked the bible was about social justice.Expose the politicians who use fear and intolerance to manipulate folks into voting against their economic best interest.Remind the public that Oklahoma City is the logical extension of their reasoning.Remind them of the Branch Davidians.Expose the fact that politicians like Dubya have nothing for contempt for the constituencies that deliver them electoral victories.. These people are freaks and the left needs to point that out
by tommy 2004-11-05 01:11PM | 0 recs
They steal elections, we lose
Nothing we do, ,essage, candidate, media, etc will make any difference as long as they can rig the election and steal the vote.

Forget the "morality" issue, there is nothing at all wrong with our values, it just another GOP smokescreen.

If the votes had been counted accurately we would have won.

Take a look at the difference between the exits polls and vote count in Ohio and Florida.

Chris, please go thru the number and see if the precinct counts and pre-election polls and exit polls match.

See what discrepencies exist in the vote data by county, turn-out, totals, % ages, etc.

by leschwartz 2004-11-05 01:13PM | 0 recs
Can the left win the culture war?
My reaction is to caution that culture wars seem to me to be waged and won on generational timescales.

In terms of appealing to wedge issues, here's a thought:
Talking with friends today, perhaps in retrospect Kerry should have played the abortion wedge issue more. Accusing Bush of wanting to outlaw all abortion is a) likely true, b) politically impossible for him to say, and c) damaging for his base to hear him equivocate on. This was the sort of tool gay marriage was for Bush: he forced Kerry to define himself as "Bush-lite" while telling rural church-goers at closed rallies that Kerry was a gay-loving liberal.

Personally, though, I think that the issue Democrats should champion is universal, easy, and accountable voting access.

Imagine if CA, NY, and MA had automatic voter registration laws, painless (perhaps even automatic) absentee ballots, and non-geographical vote counting (so all voting stations were the same...turn in your ballot or fill out your ballot anywhere you like). How many more million popular votes for Kerry than Bush would this have produced? Perhaps 5-10? Chances are high it would have been enough to give Kerry the popular vote.

How about a federal law (HAVA II? the Count Every Vote Act?) mandating that every single ballot be counted before a county could report. That is, if ballots won't machine count, they MUST be hand counted. How about mandating that, while voters are present, their ballot is passed through a validation counter to make sure it isn't spoiled? How about a federal law that all polling places in a county must be equivalent? This would erase the Ohio debacle of an order of magnitude fewer voting machines in Democratic areas. And, of course, no e-voting machines without a paper trail.

I think these provisions can be sold broadly and spun as anti-fraud. A statewide voter registration database is anti-fraud. Checking ballots at the polling place is anti-fraud. Having county-wide (or state-wide) voter information is anti-fraud.

While voting reform is probably against Republican interests. It is hard to defend an "anti-voting" position. I think this would energize Democrats while being embarrassing for the opposition.

Collecting a diverse coalition is great. Getting them access to ballots, and getting their votes counted, is the next step!

by gregbillock 2004-11-05 01:17PM | 0 recs
I agree but we can use language and phrase the discussion to swing those against us.

Who is the moral among us?
Is torture moral? we just validated it with this election.
Is killing a 100,000 people moral for the reasons given to do it?  Does this support a policy of life?
Is the economic policy socially just?  Is this the social/economic policy that Jesus would endorse?

We have sinned by re-electing these sinners and validating their sins.

I am sure we can expand on this.

by semental 2004-11-05 01:27PM | 0 recs
Great Post Chris!
Aren't Bush's supporters better more accurately defined as fundamentalist protestant?  Apparently orthodox Jews and charismatic Catholics are also attracted to Bush. All of these groups are fundamentalist in nature.

Taking scripture literally (=fundamentalist) doesn't leave much room for interpretation of scripture. Their party's essence is intolerance and bigotry.

We can be defined as the anti-Bush, but more effective to be affirmative in self definition. Stand for individual liberty, tolerance, free will, freedom for all....but, their freedom to swing their fists ends at our noses.

by marcic 2004-11-05 01:33PM | 0 recs
I think you got it wrong
This argument seems to assume that the terms of the debate are set by the GOP, and so we have to argue with them on their terms. I disagree.

The better option is to set up an entirely new set of terms for the debate that are based on a core rationale for the Democrats. Rather than just talk about the grab bag of causes we support--social justice, civil rights, the right to choose, separation of church and state, etc.-- we have to explain the reason we support those things.

I think the explanation is easy, and from a values perspective is even easier. Because we support Democratic causes for the most moral of reasons: every person is equal. When I was a Christian missionary, I used to explain that every soul was equal in the eyes of God. Simply out, that is our party's rationale. The state can't change take that equality away, skin color can't change that, gender can't change that, orientation can't change that and certainly the Bush administration can't change that.

As a core concept it is very hard to argue against, and there probably isn't a stronger foundation upon which to build a populist ratioinale for the Democratic party.

by ccobb 2004-11-05 02:02PM | 0 recs
Re: I think you got it wrong
Great ideas...we need to set the discussion and talking points. It is hard to argue against the Defense of Marriage Act. But you can debate against a law the takes away constitutional rights. Just ask the righties at the NRA.

Democrats need to find their moral compass and weave it with Christian Principals. Freedom for all. Truth and Honesty from our leaders.

GOP Party Misinformation= Democratic Truth         

Defense of Marriage Act= State Sanctioned Bigotry
American Values/Morals= Bigotry and loss of
                        constitutional rights
                        for Gays
Clean Air Act          = Rape and Pillage the
Leave No Child Behind  = Ruin the Public School
                         System with an
                         unfunded Mandate

A Culture of Life     = Stop All Abortions yet
                        Kill 100,000+ in an
                        unjust War in Iraq

by hectorblue 2004-11-05 02:21PM | 0 recs
Moderate Catholics are the answer
I think I disagree. We are very close to a majority, we just need to add or pad our coaltion and moderate Catholics are it. They are White and fall naturally left of center. Believe it or not, these people are pro-choice and along with liberal Catholics, form a Catholic majority.

I strongly disagree with the characterization that the Republican Party has gotten the "devout" Catholics, by which, most mean, weekly Mass attendess. With all the crap the Bishops pulled and the Catholic Right, Kerry won the Catholic vote in most of the midwest and southwest battleground states!!!! In MI,WI,PA,MN (51-52%) in MO, ground zero for the communion controversy (49%), IA(53%), NM (63%!!!), NV(52%) and all this even though he demonized by the Bishops and the Catholic Right. And BTW, in most of these states, Kerry pulled about 45% of weekly Mass attendees, that is huge. (In NM, it was over 50%). These were devout Catholics too.

Catholics were 27% of the electorate on Nov 2, even though they are only 20% of the general population. That is a reliable active political base and it responded favorably to Kerry and rejected the Right.

OH was the midwest exception (55-45). I think the problem was that OH was under the radar on the values, Catholic issue. The focus in OH was more guns and jobs. But that number can easily be brought in balance with the other midwest battleground states.

Moderate Catholics are pro-choice in a jumpy way. If you don't throw abortion in their faces, they can live with and even support pro-choice. I think the Democratic Party has to moderate it pro-choice delivery and bring it in line with where the country as a whole is.

Moderate Catholics are very concerned with social justice issues, poverty, war and peace, death penalty, and foreign policy. The Democratic Party does not need to do anything to get them back, all it needs to is soften the image of the party as beholded to NARAL and PP (fair or not, that is the perception). I dealt with Catholics a lot this cycle and I heard this time and time again. They feel that the party does not want them because they are not gung ho about abortion and they can't stand the Republicans.

The party does not have to get any more religious, Moderate Catholics like it the way it is sans the "abortion-is-a-good-thing" perception.

by Ono 2004-11-05 02:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Moderate Catholics are the answer
I agree that moderate Catholics are essential to this coalition - but it's not just a matter of the party reaching out to Catholics, it's also a matter of moderate and/or moderate-liberal/marginal Catholics refusing to surrender the church to the reactionaries.  Catholic opposition to the death penalty and abortion and the doctrine of just war all arise from the same teachings on life, but right-wing Catholic groups distributed a "Voters' Guides for Serious Catholics" in churches throughout the swing states that identified the five voting issues as: abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia, and, uh, two other right-wing issues.  The death penalty, the docrtine of just war, and the belief in social justice were not mentioned.  It's not the party's issue, it's just an issue for liberal-moderate Catholics.
by liz 2004-11-05 05:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Moderate Catholics are the answer
but it's not just a matter of the party reaching out to Catholics, it's also a matter of moderate and/or moderate-liberal/marginal Catholics refusing to surrender the church to the reactionaries.

But that's my point--they didn't, for the most part. So in Iowa, 53% of that very Catholic state thumbed their noses at the Catholic Right and all that noise from Bishops. I do know that many moderate Catholics and even conservatives, wished that they could overcome the abortion talk so that they could vote Kerry.

I received emails from moderates and even liberal Catholics who felt alienated from the Democratic party and said they were more than willing to join in if they were not rejected for their pro-life views. If the party opened its arms to them, like it has begun to in this cycle, we can pick off quite a few points in midwest battleground states.

by Ono 2004-11-05 07:07PM | 0 recs
A note of caution
All this talk of faith and values is rather disturbing and could be defeatist. We can claim that we also have good morals and faith, but this is a no-win approach. I see the modern Democratic party as forming in WWII. Under the pressures of war on two fronts against `strong` opponents, America was forced to accept that effectiveness and pragmatism trumped obience to a church (any institution that appeals to faith rather than  rationality). Since WWII, this lesson has been fading and with it the American belief that progress is preferred over reactionism.
The Democrats should be seen as the party of tolerance because tolerance is the only way to ensure that America remains the most dynamic and efficient country. Once a person has allowed himself to become subservient to a faith, it may take an extremely strong external event to change his view. Job losses and uncertainty do not seem to have been sufficient.
by wisedup 2004-11-05 02:32PM | 0 recs
Exit Poll Demographics
Many states now permit early voting without an absentee justification. The demographics we read are based on election day exit polling. Has anybody thought that exit poll demographics might be very biased because early voters are different from election day voters?
by JHERSON 2004-11-05 02:42PM | 0 recs
Instead of Religion, Talk About the Party
Why not ask how come Republicans hate freedom so much that they want government to tell you who you can love, who you can marry, what your family can be?

I think it is obvious that the Republicans have sold their soul to the part of their party that doesn't believe in freedom or the Bill of Rights. This is a conflict over the Constitution and the role of government. With this election the Republicans have surrendered any claim they might have to be the party that opposes government intervention in people's lives.

Republicans want to legislate their morality for everyone. The more we say it the tighter the box will become.

Attacking them on freedom allows us to look back toward FDR, the four freedoms, and more. It even let's us get back to the Founding Fathers and the original meaning of the Constitution.

by tsuomela 2004-11-05 02:54PM | 0 recs
Re: The four freedoms
They have claimed the language of freedom - at least in reference to their base - while we weren't looking.  Listen to how the anti-gay marriage people discuss the issue: "I don't give a goddamned about x, y or z until they try to force it down people's throats!"  

Again, I think that this is a very reasonable way to frame the issues in blue country, but less so in red country - although it might work in certain areas.  

by liz 2004-11-05 05:47PM | 0 recs
I think you hit the nail on the head
I 100% agree with this theory.

In fact i can add some data and anectdote too.

Yesterday i was talknig with a colleague who was a Christian for Bush volunteer. And he had a powerpoint printout for their Ohio strategy. IT was all abuot getting our the evangelicals.

He then said that he had wished they had used the term christian not evangelical, because even he thought that the word had negative connotations.

We need to smear and jeer the Republicans with the Jesusland meme constantly, so that the moderates splinter, and we help them too by not obstructing their radical religious agenda.

Excellent post. We have to get this idea to the democrats before they run off thinking they got to get some jesus themselves.

by Pounder 2004-11-05 03:07PM | 0 recs
I Could Not Possibly Agree More
For three days I have been trying to capture my feelings on this, and had planned a diary for dkos, but now there is no need.  

The sentence: "Specifically, we do have the option of completely boxing them into their current worldview, while simultaneously tarnishing the public perception of that worldview" could not possibly be more on target.

There is nothing to feel dirty about here.  First of all, it's perfectly fair play, BECAUSE IT HAS THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING TRUE.  Second of all, this captures the moral fairness that I believe the Democratic Party stands for.

Democrats aren't "anti" because that's just their nature.  They're anti-bigotry and anti-hypocrisy.

And moreover, the white protestants aren't demons.    I say this as a white man in his thirties who was confirmed Presbyterian.  They're just, like all people, susceptible to a pounded message.  When we talk about Republicans coming over to the Democratic side, it's because they will fundamentally start seeing the bigotry and horrifying behavior of many of their compatriots as anti-human and as fundamentally hypocritical.

The thing is, even the Republican party does not represent real Christian values.  This is the key.

Now, what is the next step?  Obviously, propagating this argument around the Democratic Party and actively seeking candidates and officeholders who are willing to stay on message ont his one and dedicate themselves to pointing out the bigotry and hypocrisy wherever they find it.

Encouragingly, I think this will come about somewhat naturally.  I think people woke up on Wednesday morning shocked that people would put their hypocritical "values" bullshit over all other national and worldy concerns.  And I think there is going to be a blue state cultural backlash, because previously the one side in the supposed "culture war" didn't think they were actually involved in a "war" because they couldn't bring themselves to believe that people really - for real - believed this shit.  And now there is a huge wake-up call: the red state Christians are not just laughably hypocritical and easy to dismiss, they are in fact, the most dangerous single force in the Western World.

So, because I think millions more people all of a sudden realize this, there will be a natural fertile ground for pushing this very cogent, incredibly accurate and important message.

Sign me up for whatever action is necessary.  I haven't read all the comments, but please, please for the sake of the world do not listen to any dissenters.  This is the singlemost important commentary I have seen anywhere on the web or television in the last 72 hours.  I joined the site because of an impulse to comment, this is my first one.

The Democratic Party must emerge as the party of conscience, the party of non-bigoted hypocrites.

by PocketNines 2004-11-05 03:10PM | 0 recs
Re: I Could Not Possibly Agree More
as opposed to the party of bigoted hypocrites?

Somehow, I don't think you said what you meant to say.

by sTiVo 2004-11-05 03:36PM | 0 recs
Yeah, lol
I should have had it like this:

non-(bigoted hypocrites).

by PocketNines 2004-11-05 04:21PM | 0 recs
what if it works?
As a defensive strategy for under duress minority, I think this strategy will be effective. The problems begin once it is effective. While the GOP will fracture once the election glee rubs off, it will be nothing compared to a fracturing following this strategy. What do you do with this strategy once you reach power? What policies do you enact? Everyone has their own vision for v-day - religious right. All of the members of the coalition have distinct goals for power. No one has the same top priority. How do you prevent internal bickering that allows the opposition to create a Contract with America that primarily pledges to cut through the opponents deer-in-the-headlights paralysis? You can't. You must have priorities before you get there. The democratic party needs a worldview, if any near-term successes can be parlayed into decades of control.

Make no mistake, the time for strategies like Chris' this  are now in my opinion. We do need to couple them with a set of priorities that can not be negotiable upon victory.

The possiblity of an electoral shift is being bandied about in political science community. Failure to act strong now could bring decades of GOP domination.

We do need to couple them with a set of priorities that can not be negotiable upon victory.

by srolle 2004-11-05 03:17PM | 0 recs
American Taliban
There is a lot of truth to this. I recall seeing Paula Zahn's interview with Pat Robertson during the campaign. Did she ask him about his comment where he said God allowed the 9/11 attacks to place because of secular humanists, gays, etc.? (rhetorical question obviously).

But the more important question is why didn't John Kerry bring this up during the debates when asked about homosexuality. He could have said something like "Some of my opponents key supporters are people who blame Americans for 9/11, call Islam a gutter religion, seek to ban abortions, would deny gays and lesbians any rights at all and want to force children to pray. I support teaching tolerance for people of diverse faiths. I believe all Americans should have equal rights...".

This is however, a tricky strategy. It has to be done with a bit of finesse. Simply defining ourselves as "opposed to them" and substituting white protestant for white male won't work. There are a lot of white Protestants out there who will support us. As my brother, a fundamentalist Bush supporter wrote me: "I was surprised at how many Christians voted for Kerry. All the Mennonites and Episcopalians voted for Kerry."

There are a lot of moderate and liberal Protestants out there who support us. Take people like Shelby Spong, a retired Episcopalian Bishop. By all means lets take on the extremists, but lets not attack their faith.

There are some things that unite us more than not being them. The things that unite us are values: tolerance, freedom, a committment to reality based politics, a desire for social justice. There are white Protestants who want that and support that. There are whole denominations like the UCC that support those goals. Let's remember that.

Personally, I choose at present not to affiliate with any particular community of faith. But its not religious faith that is the problem-its extremism.

Extremism in defense of liberty may be no vice, but extremism in defense of intolerance is no virtue.

All that said we need to focus on a unifying, positive message while hitting back hard at the radical right.

by cspoirot 2004-11-05 03:32PM | 0 recs
The Ten Commandments
I was hoping there was an 11th commandment, Thou shall not lie through thoust teeth.

Closest I could find was one about not bearing false withness against your neighbors. Kind of vague and not what I was hoping to find.

Perhaps this is how these born again christians can justify their faith in an administration that has yet to be truthful in any way.


by gwpriester 2004-11-05 03:32PM | 0 recs
The guy in the next cube is a Bushie activist
Here's what I learned at work today.  The guy in the next cube is a Bushie Christian Coalition activist.  I just moved into this area of the building where I work and am starting to know some of my cubicle-neighbors, none of whom is on my work team.  Unlike some cubes, these have low walls so there is a lot of contact.

Anyway I knew this guy was a Bushie.  Very unusual in this blue state in my industry.  His whole cube is decorated as a shrine to September 11.  He was very happy on Wednesday.  Myself and another guy in my foursome were depressed and the fourth guy is Chinese and I don't know what he thinks.

As I said, in the whole run-up to the election I never ran across any Bushies in my circles of acquaintance.  My coworkers all hated Bush, which was kind of a switch from how many of them were right after 9/11.  But we know how that went.

But back to the Bushie.  A very mild-mannered, inoffensive fellow, very religious.  Not the bullying militarist type of Bushie at all.  I had thought I might talk to him, get to know him, find out what makes him tick, maybe even win him over.  He's Mexican, said he was childless, but as the oldest of eight, he wound up having to raise all of his siblings and doesn't want any more of that.  

But then I overheard his phone conversation today.  He was talking to someone, on and on about how smart their strategy was and how well it worked, particularly the gay marriage angle.  Very Machiavellian, but almost giddy.  It was clear that this guy expects the kingdom of God to be enacted on earth in short order.  Well, no more thought of winning him over any time soon.

Then I'm driving home from the train station and flipped the dial to Sports Talk radio.  (Anything but politics now).  While I've never been particularly fond of the frat boy mentality of these radio jocks, it immediately hit me how far these guys were from my new Bushie cube-mate.  There is no way this demographic of drinking, gambling, foulmouthed carousers is going to stay permanently joined to these religious fanatics.  Yes I know many church leaders are hypocrites, but embracing piety is not the Sports Talk way.  Somebody is going to wind up disappointed.  

Now Bush has to deliver.  The Christian Coalition types are going to demand their due, but can Bush deliver to them without alienating the other parts of his constituency?  Stay tuned.

by sTiVo 2004-11-05 03:32PM | 0 recs
Re: The guy in the next cube is a Bushie activist
Ironically, I think that the culture wars are much more about things like frat-boy talk radio and crap TV than most people understand.  Many fundamentalist Christians are alienated by the corporate consumer culture around them even as they buy into it.  They displace their alienation from the corporate and consumer parts of the corporate consumer culture, lead by the leaders of the movement, who create a constant atmosphere of us v. them, of a lifestyle under attack.  

Anyway, I agree with you, and I hope that paying the Christian Coalition back will alienate the rest of the party.  It might take more than four years to do that, though.  

by liz 2004-11-05 06:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The guy in the next cube is a Bushie activist

















by Aslanspal 2004-11-05 08:29PM | 0 recs
Yet another circular firing squad
I'm kinda new here at posting, but have been lurking the blogs daily for the news before many people here even knew the names of Jerome, Atrios, and Kos etc.  And, I agree with our blog masters that everone needs to calm down at this site and all over the progressive blogosphere.  I know everyone needs to vent, but, please, stop being "electoral collage, girlie men."  It's a done deal and that's the way it is.

Kerry/Edwards and the Democats do have a message!! and that message appealed to you. ~56 million and the majority of the North East, industrialized Mid-West, the entire West Coast, and the beautiful Islands out West of us (with apologies to the ~40% who did votr K/E in the losing states) wanted K/E.  Why stop there?  

So do we have to change the message?  Hell no! K/E ran a great campaign  For the sake of a 100k votes (and shrinking) in the red states of FL or OH, the fundies would have lost the popular vote but not the electoral college.

Now is not the time for blame, finger-pointing, or acting like "girlie-men".  56 milion agree with us.  Now it's time to make it 69 million.  

So, quit acing like "girlie-men". Take the weekend off and then get back to work for our convictions.  Stop complaining, and remember 55, 999, 999 other people love you for your hard work, effort, and vote.

Unlike Preznit gay love, we know that the seriousness of politics really means "hard-work."

Is anyone here up for a bit of hard work or are we all going to emaculate Preznit "hard work" and do nothing but blame the Democrats for saying what WE wanted them to say ???

by Tall16 2004-11-05 04:10PM | 0 recs












by Aslanspal 2004-11-05 04:36PM | 0 recs
This is all fine and well and good, but you have to remember, religious zealots (who call themselves people of deep, abiding faith) aren't going to care what you call them, because they're doing god's work and therefore, you will be wrong as it long as it differs from what they're doing.

While I would never profess to condone a message of bigotry, I don't think that highlighting differences in terms of those messages is the way to go (ecept with a small, select demographic).  Rather, we should begin formulating plans that help separate their party, rich from poor and working class.  Become the friend of the people, whether they people of faith or not.

Later, when we've got them on our side--that's when we begin the re-indoctrination to a reality-based society.

by beloit08 2004-11-05 04:50PM | 0 recs
Re: non-reality-based
I'd say the point of this strategy is less to win over the fundamentalists than it is to make the non-fundamentalist parts of the Republican party realize just who it is they have chosen to rely on.    

If the religious zealots are really not going to care what they are called then all we can do is make sure they are out of power. We can be tolerant of them once we've been elected. We can be their friends once they've agreed not to curtail our freedoms because they don't believe in them.

The Republicans have cynically chosen to start this cultural war and now we need to take it to it's logical conclusion.

To win we only need to convince the small number of Republicans who disagree with the evangelicals.  These people exist but are in denial about what the religious right really wants.

by tsuomela 2004-11-05 06:58PM | 0 recs
No, it isn't all about faith.  It's about message.

Rove said in 2000, half of the fundies didn't come out ~4 milllion.  Well, they came out this time and that's why they won it - gay wedding thing.

Why? Or better still, how did they get that message out?  Think about it.  They spend a lot of time in Churh or Praying etc (and I'm a God-loving Irish Catholic, for my shame in NJ - Acording to them I'm going to Hell)

How did they get the message out??  That's the most important thing Dems gotta realize.

And when you realize it was through the Pulpits, then the next question is "how are WE gonna counter it?"  

Think about it, please    

by Tall16 2004-11-05 05:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Tall16
I think the Democratic Party could probably do a better job of cultivating and nurturing relationships with religious leaders -- pastors, priests, rabbis, etc. -- who are left-leaning and progressive.  We should look to these good people for guidance on how better to communicate with people of faith who are progressive/moderate and not fundamentalist.  We could also use more religious leaders as spokespeople for progressive causes and ideals.  Jesse Jackson has been an effective voice for a long time, but it would be very helpful to have others.

Faith and religion are, for better or worse, very deeply ingrained in the American psyche.  That fact is not going to change anytime soon.  We need to find ways to publicly ally with more people of faith who recoil from the sanctimony, intolerance, and extremism of the fundamentalists, and who share the Democratic Party's ideals of social and economic justice.    

by toddfrmtx 2004-11-05 06:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Tall16





























by Aslanspal 2004-11-05 08:43PM | 0 recs
there is an unholy alliance in Nebraska
And other places. The Catholics and the Evangelicals have united in large parts of the country over the issues of gay rights and abortion.

What issue seperates them the most?

The Death Penalty. The death penalty is one issue that could easily peel the Evangelicals from the Catholics and other mainline churches. Think about this very obvious and strong natural alliance.

I was at a dinner for Nebraskans Against the Death Penalty and an old school priest at one point had to point out loudly and clearly:

"George Bush is not pro-life!"

I'm not saying that the Democrats should give up on abortion rights. I'm saying they should point out that the Republican party is not pro-life, or some such.


by phatass 2004-11-05 06:14PM | 0 recs
Yes -- whole country is now like California, 1994
In 1994, Pete Wilson won the governor's office in CA  by demonizing immigrants. In 1996, Republicans tried to ride putting affirmative action to a popular vote to another victory inspired by white anxiety -- they killed affirmative action, but Bill Clinton carried the state easily.

Manipulating white anxiety about the demographic reality that California is now a "majority minority" state became the state Republicans' stock in trade -- and they looked to have made a permanent minority of themselves until pathetically bad Democratic governance under Gray Davis gave an opening to that dangerous phony "moderate," the Gropinator.

Despite this setback, the lesson is still real: being the party of intolerance is not viable in contemporary US society. We need to hang this truth around the Republican's all too willing necks.

by janinsanfran 2004-11-05 07:16PM | 0 recs
I'm a white Protestant
I am a white Protestant. I was always taught that Christianity means love thy neighbor, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

In my family, these are core of our politics as Democrats.

I feel like these evangelicals have hijacked my faith, just like the Bushies have hijacked my country.

by mysteve 2004-11-05 07:31PM | 0 recs





by Aslanspal 2004-11-05 08:32PM | 0 recs
Perhaps Because I Was Raised Unitarian...
This doesn't seem like much of a problem for me, and I have a hard time, sometimes, understanding why others have such a hard time with it.  

What's important about religion is not the beliefs, but the practices.  The beliefs, ultimately, are all just-so stories. This will upset some religious folk, I know, but most religious teach this themselves--that the divine is beyond our comprehension, and everything we do to reach out to it must, necessarily, fall short.  It is the act of striving, rather, that opens us up, so that the divine can reach into us.

Religions divide people when they get so arrogant they think they know what God is thinking--and that God is thinking exactly what they are thinking.  But religion is not about having all the answers. It is about questing for truth. And seen from that perspective, we should be able to accept different paths for different people, without feeling that they threaten our own.

Funny thing. That's exactly what a secular government allows and encourages us to do.  

At the risk of sounding like a broken record--it's George Lakoff's work on values we should be focusing on. All relgions have both a Strict Father and a Nurturant Parent interpretation. And, ultimately, there is much more in common between the fundamentalists of different religions than there is between the fundamentalists and the liberationists within any one religion.

by Paul Rosenberg 2004-11-05 08:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Perhaps Because I Was Raised Unitarian...
Or perhaps because your beliefs are genuinely faith based instead of dogmatic. Lakoff's work is exactly the right approach. This is a contest between genuine faith and religious dogma. Let me suggest a dichotomy. We can choose the approach suggested by Chris or we can choose the approach demonstrated by Barak Obama.

We can attempt to turn their tactic of demonizing the "other" against them or we can reach out with a faith based values message of our own that is more truthful, more powerful and more persuasive.

I think the answer is getting more comfortable with liberal faith based language and issues. If you want to see how we can kick their butt on faith based issues let me suggest "The Soul of Politics: A Practical and Prophetic Vision for Change" by Jim Wallis linked text

"Soul of a Citizen" by Paul Rogat Loeb is another excellent book.

We can easily reframe this entire debate with very little real effort. Liberals just need to let their faith out of the closet (even though that goes against scripture).

This is the age old battle Jesus fought against the pharisees. I think the parable of Jesus in the temple is instructive. We have to do two things. (1) Overturn the tables of the money changers and (2) Provide a genuine faith based message.

Chris' approach emphasizes the first step, while ignoring the far more powerful second step. Cursing the pharisees won't do us any good if we don't offer a message of hope as well.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-06 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Perhaps Because I Was Raised Unitarian...
You also have to expose the pharisees and

when they steal,abuse, and blaspheme we

need to have the media portals to put a

never ending spotlight on you realize

how much sexual abuse goes on in the southern

baptist convention with pastors and youth pastors

but that gets about a one day news cycle in

the local paper....did you realize Paul Crouch

was in the spotlight about a gay affair paid

the accuser off ..then went after him because

he wanted to tell his story ..the guy did not

have a chance ..dysfunction junction.

I agree we need to have a message of hope

have a values package that bring voters back

into our fold...and I agree we can curse

and criticize these rotted pharisees till

the cows come home...but not until we

expose these people to all of america as

extremist,hereitics and abusers of gods word

then they will be like teflon nothing will

stop them because they know they can spin and

buy there way out of it...keep it under the

radar because of no media and citizen


by Aslanspal 2004-11-06 08:21AM | 0 recs
I agree with Chris
Chris' post helped me put together two of the partial thoughts I've been having.

First, we just entered an election where our candidate was smarter, better informed, and had a better grasp on reality.  Their candidate was an incompetent, bumbling fool with a disasterous four-year record.  We assumed that we could win because truth was on our side.  We were wrong.  When America cast their ballots this week they voted for future campaigns filled with deception, smear tactics, and fear.

Second, we need to crack this republican idea that morality begins at conception and ends at birth.  There is a lot of morality between birth and death that they completely ignore.

Chris, I think, has figured out how to combine "lifetime morality" with republican campaign tactics.  We need to call them racists, homophobes, greedy, intollerant, heartless.  Every nasty name on those lines we can think of.  We need to counter their "bible:banned/gay marriage:allowed" campaign literature with fliers featuring pictures of burning crosses and starving children.  We need religious people to feel embarassed to vote for the republicans.

by BBigJ 2004-11-05 08:48PM | 0 recs
I disagree
I disagree with most of the post at the start of this diary.

  1. Just because the Dems are more ethnically/religiously diverse certainly doesn't mean we can't find common ground. How about common ground like a desire for social justice and peace?? I think we already have some agreement there. How about a balanced budget? How about respect for the truth?

  2. The author suggests ways to attack, attack, attack Republicans. What is the goal - to alienate them even more? We need to win over moderate Republicans, not alienate them. E.g., it does absolutely no good to call anybody a homophobe; that won't win them over if they actually are a homophobe. We need the homophobes' votes, too; I am not joking at all. There are too many of them to win without some of them. Same thing with the term "theocrats" - you want to insult anyone who believes in God?

  3. Unfortunately, much of the public in general, the media, and pollsters, are not well informed about the differences among various protestant denominations. Whereas fundamentalists/evangelicals are certainly hard core Republican, a number of other denominations are enlightened, progressive, and solidly Democrat. These are the folks who can speak the right language to reach out to religious, moderate republicans. They (OK, "we," since I guess I am a progressive protestant) need to step up to the plate and engage their slightly-more-conservative neighbors. E.g., since when are social justice and peace not related to "moral values"? The Bible doesn't advocate about taking from the poor to give tax cuts to the rich; nor does it distinguish between which innocent civilians it is OK and not OK to bomb. Furthermore, these churches have the infrastructure of community, regular meetings, buildings, a national denominational organization that are being well-exploited politically by more fundamentalist churches. The enlightened churches are by nature more introspective than the evangelicals, but they need to shake themselves awake and take action. We just need a couple percent of the electorate...

BTW we're never going to convince most of the moderate republicans to sanction gay marriage. It needs to be framed as "getting the goddamn federal government out of the marriage business" as discussed here.
by mepster 2004-11-05 09:20PM | 0 recs
Is there an analysis of Swing voters..........
Polls of Bush and Kerry  goes back and forth like there is probably 8% of voters who switch between Kerry and Bush during the last 3 months. Is there an analysis of the reasons why they finally decided on their vote especially in Florida and Ohio.

Most of the people I talk to dont like Bush, Iraq War or the Deficits  but voted for Bush anyway because they were convince Bush will overturn Robie and Wade and was influenced by the Church.  

I thought these were lost votes that could be Kerry's if the abortion and gay marriage issue was dealth with and framed well.  

The Sad Part is Bush and Kerry shared the same positions on Gay Marriage and Abortion.  (Both were for Civil Unions and continuing legalization of Abortion) but what was conveyed was to them was different.

by jasmine 2004-11-06 07:45AM | 0 recs
Dems can take back senate now
The Democrats can retake the senate now! Here's how...

The background:
Several events in the past few days have shown that the most
radical members of the senate are planning to move aggressively
on their agenda, especially with regard to judicial appointments
and tax cuts.
For example, Arlen Spector is now in trouble for stating that the
senate may not be willing to confirm anti-abortion Supreme Court
judges. This was not a threat, just an observation, but the radicals
are already planning a punishment.

On the other side the senators from NY, CT and NJ are thinking of
dropping out in favor of becoming governors in 2006. They think
they might be more effective, since there is very little they can
do in the senate.

Several moderate Republicans have expressed concern about the
size of the deficit and the balance of trade. The radicals,
however, are threatening to give anyone who is independent the
"Daschle" treatment.

The solution:
The Democrats need to make an appeal to the moderate Republicans
to leave their party and join the Democrats. In addition to
Spector, good candidates are Chafee, Snowe, Voinovich and Collins.
For this to work the Democrats need to find six Republicans that
will all switch together. This will give the Democrats a majority
in the senate and enable them to negotiate the coming legislation
and nominations from an equal position of strength.

This is not as far-fetched as it may seem, several of these
senators are unlikely to run again (Spector has just be
re-elected, for example) and thus don't have to fear the
lack of election support. With the Democrats in the majority
they also won't have to worry about retaliation from the
Republicans for support of local projects.

As an incentive, the Democrats should offer these members new
powers such as committee chairmanships and other perks. If
the Republican senators have a problem with declaring themselves
as Democrats (such as what happened with Jeffords) they could
instead create a non-party structure to affiliate these new
allies with. Some name suggestions: "The alliance of responsible
legislators", "The non-partisan alliance", "The fiscal moderates
caucus", etc. This group will caucus with the Democrats and vote
as a block for committee assignments and for those issues on
which they have overall agreement. The Republican members would
still be free to vote with their prior party when they feel they
have to for political or local reasons.

By sweetening the offer enough the Republican moderates will come
as a winners both in terms of their power in the senate and with
their voters back home. They can point to their newfound powers
as a way to promote the interests of their state. While in the
present alignment they are barely tolerated.

The Democrats need to stop despairing and get to work!

by rdf 2004-11-06 07:46AM | 0 recs
We're moral. They are immoral.
I'm not convinced that dividing the population into racial and religious categories and then trying to create an argument in terms of anti-them is healthy, nor is it likely to work.  We need to come up with a unifying, positive narrative that will help hold all of this incredible diversity together and help bring more people to our cause.  Although we have this great diversity in religious beliefs that support Kerry's coalition, there are common morals that hold us together.  I, for example, can be classified as a secular person in the exit polling data above, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily against all Christian beliefs, all Jewish beliefs or all Muslim Beliefs, etc.  I don't agree with some beliefs in all of these religions, but there's no need for us to focus on those differences in creating a political message.  

Instead, to some degree, I think there are broad, underlying values in all of these religions and in secularism that are similar enough to create politically driven value messages around them that will be attractive to some degree or another to vast majorities of people within these religious groups.  As a basic example, most people in all of these religions and non-religions would agree that unprovoked violence against an individual is wrong.  When Muslim extremist kidnap people and cut their heads off, all but a tiny minority of Muslim extremist agree that this is wrong.  

That's not to say that we shouldn't attack the right's value system.  Of course we should!  At the same time, however, we need to create positive messages based on morality that shows the strengths of our underlying philosophy and beliefs, while at the same time attacking them and their messages as immoral.

Our values are moral.  Theirs are not.  I think the starting point should be that simple and we should try to keep it as simple as possible as we build from there.  

Think about it.  Twenty three percent of the people in this country showed up at the polls on election day and said moral values were the most important reason over 80 percent of them voted for Bush.  We're at war.  American men and women are dying for no apparent reason and these people show up and say, "I'm here to vote to ensure that a little tiny minority of people in this country can't enter into loving, long-term, committed relationships."  That's wrong!  It's immoral!  It's unpatriotic to have such a narrow focus during a time of war when people should be focused on how are we going to win the peace in Iraq, so we can bring our men and women in uniform home.  

The right is immoral.  The primary basis for this charge is that they are wholly lacking in integrity.  They lie.  Their news shows are full of lies.  They're radio commentators get on the airwaves and spew lies to the American people every day.  Why do they lie?  To fulfill their lust for money.  They are greedy.  They also lust for power, which is just another form of greed.  They will use this power to enforce their narrow-minded beliefs on all of us and therefore they are against freedom and love tyranny.

These words are basic words with deep emotional attachments too them.  Lust, greed, honesty, integrity, lies, tyranny, freedom, moral, immoral.  We need to use basic, emotive words when we are forming our messages on morality.  No matter what a person's education or background is, everyone can relate to these types of words and these types of words have real emotive impact to everyone.  Words like reactionary, conservative, radical are second tier terms that sound more intellectual and run the risk that some people will think we're elites and snot-nosed intellectuals, which, of course, we're not.  (What has been particularly appalling about Bush is that he is an elite born and bread in the upper most crust of our society, yet, they have been able to create an image that is exactly to the contrary and nail average middle-class people, like journalist and lawyers, with the label of elites.  We have to reverse this.)  

We also need to use their core religious beliefs against them.  They're deadly serious about their core beliefs and they conflict to a large degree with everyone else's beliefs.  I don't know much about religion, so I may need some help here, but I think it is Evangelicals that believe that unless you have personally accepted Jesus Christ into your heart, you are going to hell for eternity.  Now, Bush is an Evangelical.  Unless you are an Evangelical too, Bush thinks you're going to hell.  Your President thinks you are going to hell.  Does that sound like someone that shares your moral values?

So, in this way, we can use the unifying moral themes imbedded in all religions, and even in the moral systems of non-religious people like myself, to attack the right.  Honesty, integrity, frugality, freedom, (what's the opposite of lust and greed?) are moral values that are common to all religions.  We can build unifying themes around them that are pro-messages for our side and anti-messages for their side.  In this way, we use our diversity as a strength and their homogeneity as a weakness.

For example, in this election, I don't think it was enough to be anti-them.  I have some moderate to right friends and family in Ohio and some of them told me that they decided not to vote for Kerry after the Dem's convention because he didn't talk enough about what he was for or what his vision for the country was.  There were so many things to run against in this election, we failed to put simple, clear, new ideas forward that are wrapped in morals.  

Clinton was good at this.  He would put forward small ideas, like seat belts on school buses, that were very attractive to a part of the electorate, but offended no one.  People, especially Republicans, made fun of this as "small politics," but it worked when people showed up at the polls.  This and other small politics ideas helped Clinton create a significant gender gap, which we completely took for granted this past election cycle.  The reduction of the gender gap, alone, lost the election for us.

Here are some detailed programs that we can use to build around these themes.  

ELECTION REFORM:  I think that everyone here agrees we desperately need election reform.  But election form can be stated in moral terms.  Republicans have cheated in the past two elections.  Partisans need to be kept out of the electoral process, which should be fair and neutral.  The system has been shown to undercount minority and poor people's votes, violating the one person, one vote principles that vast majorities of people agree with.  (Note how one person one vote is a moral statement.)  Voting is sometime too difficult and discourages people from voting.  We can fix it with fair and efficient methods that cost no more that what it cost today to run the system today.

MEDIA REFORM: We also need media reform.  The Sinclair mess has galvanized the left on the issue and the Janet Jackson-Super Bowl mess has galvanized the right.  We should be able to construct a morally based message here that appeals to both the right and the left.  Does anyone here care that Viacom (CBS's parent) had to pay a huge fine for boob-gate?  I don't think so.  Also, note how Clinton-Gore used the V-chip and television ratings system to appeal to moms in the 1990s.  This is a great wedge issue to drive between religious conservatives and powerful, greedy, dirty corporatists.

PORN REFORM:  This is another moral wedge issue for the right.  Pornography is becoming more widespread.  It's in most hotel rooms in the country and now widely available on cable and over the Internet.  We can drive another wedge into the right by insisting that the pornographic industry be fully burdened with the costs that it is imposing on society.  Adrea Dworkin and Katherine MacKinnon have suggested in It's Only Words that we should have laws that permit victims of pornography to recover damages against the pornographic industry.  For example, if a woman could show that her rape was caused because her attacker watched violent pornography, she could recover damages against the pornography industry that is involved in making and marketing violent pornography.  It's basically strict liability for the porn industry and treats the porn industry much like we have treated the tobacco industry for the last ten years.  

The more I think about this, the more I like it.  It pits an alliance that could only be born only in heaven--feminist, religious conservatives, and lawyers--against an alliance born in hell--pornographers, frat boys and big corporations.  It takes two groups of Bush's constituencies (white economicaly conservative men and coporatists) and drives a wedge between another constituency (religious conservatives).  The issue joins two groups in our constituency that have taken a massive beating lately (feminists and plaintiffs attorneys), joins them to religious conservatives, and puts them on the offense, instead of having them play defense.  Note, this idea should be pursued  in state legislatures as they control and should control tort law.

On the federal level, we could simply push a nationwide tax on the porn industry (including big corporations like DirecTV and Marriot involved in its distribution) and use the money from this tax to provide compensation to victims of sex crimes.  This would clearly put Republicans on the defensive.  It would force them to chose sides between key constituencies and takes their biggest issue, low taxes, and turns it against them like the point of a saber pressing against their quivering naked flesh.  

STATES RIGHTS: (Not sure if my liberal friends in red states will like this, but it's too important of an idea to ignore).  For years, conservatives used the argument of states rights to try to protect themselves from federal top down solutions that were against their political beliefs.  Now, the shoe is on the other foot and for those of us living in blue states, we can use this as an idea to protect ourselves from the politically conservative activists that have taken over our federal government.  This argument has a populist conservative bent, so it will sell well across the political spectrum, but we can use it to achieve liberal ends and blunt the arguments that are used against liberals at the federal level that cause us to lose elections.

There are many nuanced tactical and strategic reasons for the left  to push state rights as political policy that I will address someday in another post, but for here, I will focus on the moral value elements to the argument.  Here it goes.  Washington D.C., my friends, is filled with greed and corruption.  It's too big and too far away for the average person to have much effect on the process and so, narrow special interests with lots of money control our government in Washington.  (Now that Republicans control everything, we can use this argument with impunity!).  We need to put more power back into the hands of our state legislatures, which are closer to the people and where average person can have more impact on the process.  (Sounds conservative, but bear with me).

For example, Bush's education policy is an odious, top down, federal mandate on local and state school systems.  People pay their taxes for local schools locally.  They should have the right to control how those taxes are spent locally.  The federal government shouldn't be dictating to the states and local schools on education policy.  Bush's tort reform policy captures an area of law controlled by states, from the states.  He's doing this to further promote corporate greed and power.  It's epicenter is Washington D.C.  Bush's constitutional amendment on gay rights would federally regulate marriage, which has always been left to the states.  States should be allowed to control this issue, not the federal government.  (I could go on and on here, but you get the idea).

I know that many will argue that this has too many conservative repercussions for liberals, but I am working on an internally consistent argument that comports with the Constitution, blunts the negative affect this issue has on liberal issues causes we need to continue to push from a federal level, but puts the breaks on conservative issues that are being pushed at the Federal level.  I will put this in a separate post.  

REFORM THE CORPORATE WELFARE STATE:  This one is so obvious and fits so well into the general theme here, I will shut up now as my post has gone on for far too long.  I apologize for the length.  If anyone has read this entire post, I sincerely thank you for taking the time to read through all this.

by gunnar 2004-11-06 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: We're moral. They are immoral.

















by Aslanspal 2004-11-06 09:59PM | 0 recs
class warfare is our wedge
Kerry was just too light on the class war themes.  Edwards would have been better except that he was under the spending caps.

A lot of these rural and exurban biblethumpers are being screwed over economically and know it.  But without a compelling economic message from our side, they vote the way the preachers tell them.

by aenglish 2004-11-07 08:13AM | 0 recs


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