Donkey Talk

I think Rick Perlstein nails it: Unfucking the Donkey: Advice for weary, wandering Democrats:The Republicans understand us better than we understand ourselves. When we are not credible defenders of the economic interests of ordinary Americans, we amount to little. When we are, we're a nuclear bomb to the heart of their coalition.

"If the Democrats succeed in redistributing economic power, we're screwed." Bill Kristol.

And Armando has an excellent post up on DailyKos, The Many Democratic Parties, discussing the politics of contrast for Democrats versus the Big Tent Democratic Party, and he nails it, in the last sentence, with what replicates the Republicans successful national message (it's why they have to  force a transition upon Cindy Sheehan from a grieving mother to a media whore) of personal attack.

A big reason why I supported Howard Dean against George Bush was because it was exactly that sort of contrasting election in 2004. Instead of the contrast, we went to the electoral war without a nation-wide General in John Kerry, and so we let them beat us by inches in a few battleground states. 2006 and 2008 are Big Tent years for the Democratic Party. We must run every seat in Congress, and all 50 states for President.

The contrast is going to get us a seat at the table, but the Big Tent is what's going to marginalize the Republicans for a generation. As Chris shows, the Independents have abondoned Bush, and within rural America, this Iraq war is doing to Republicans what LBJ did to Democrats by staying in Vietnam. I believe that Perstein is correct, that the time is ripe to demobilize the fundamentalist right as a political machine for Republican elections. And we'll do it by going after ordinary rural Americans:

Guns?  You keep 'em. It's not an issue. Babies and Gays?  Frankly, Hackett-like, it's un-american if your agenda is taking away the freedom of others. That contrast finishes the issue. Bamn. Now let's talk about the shaft that the Republicans have given to your standard of living.

Tags: Democrats (all tags)

Comments

26 Comments

In a vacuum
I agree with Armando and your post. But, what does it really mean? For your ideas to work, you must have a party at a crossroads ready for change. Where do you see that in our leadership? For that matter, where do you see such expectations for change among certain elements of the base? We seem adverse to risk. This adversity makes any real change not unlikely, but impossible. If we can't take a near victory like Hackett and see clear chances, or Bush's horrible numbers, or Iraw for that matter, then where do you see this change. I keep reading these diaries these days, and thinking, this is the party that you want the Democrats to become, rather than the party that is. For the party to become what you want it to become, a generational change will need to occur. With the babyboomers clawing to keep control- when is that likely to occur?
by bruh21 2005-08-14 09:00PM | 0 recs
Yes and no
I agree that much of the Democratic leadership is stuck in the old model. But I think much of the Democratic base is chomping at the bit for the new model Jermoe speaks of. And the base is who puts people in Democratic leadership positions.

I agree with you that this change is not going to happen over night. I used to think it was a generational change. But the emergence of the progressive wing of the Democratic party as more of a player, spurred on by the increasing muscle of the Blogosphere has shortened my time table.

We can have an effect now. It will still take time to change over the leadership, but that change might happen faster than you or I thought it could. Look at Hackett. Candidates like him don't tow the party line. Yet through his sturring of the base, the Blogosphere, and the progressive side of the party, he was finally taken seriously and backed by the party structure. They had to take him seriously to curry favor.

One thing those in power want is to keep power. If enough people like Howard Dean and Paul Hackett assume leadership positions within the party, you'll see the party leadership change. The desire is there at the local level.

The change will take time. But I now have hope it won't take a generation.

by michael in chicago 2005-08-15 05:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Yes and no
I believe the problem you face is that that both the entrenched interests, certain portions of the base, the Republican party and the American media all like the present structure because it's all that they know. You are fighting perception. I see this discussion about a need to change tactics versus changing idealogy in the same way I see Iraq versus Al Qaeda. You can tell a red state Bush voter until you are blue in the face that Iraq is not about Al Quaeda, but if they've decided to believe that- you won't get any headway. The same is true here- you can argue that this is about strategy and the aggressive or lack of risk taking by the party, but if it has been decided by those in power and the rest that this is about idealogy, no amount of facts will overcome the belief system except time.
by bruh21 2005-08-15 11:48AM | 0 recs
We blew it !!!
We had a chance to run Dean for President instead we choose Kerry.  The Republicans feared Dean so much that he was the only candidate they smeared in the primary season.  We fell into their trap and nominated Kerry.  Until we grow a spine and fight for the working class the Republicans will win.  Dean was willing to wage that fight.
by HCLiberal 2005-08-14 09:14PM | 0 recs
Re: We blew it !!!
He still is... Dean is actually using a plan straight from the Bush&Co. rhetoric: take the fight to them on their turf, the Red States.

I agree, though... we had the chance.  Dean would have run so much better... he would have looked SOOO right in November w/ respect to Iraq and the economy.

Unfortunately, Kerry was just no able to put it all together effectively... he came across as a poll-sniffing wannabe.  He woulda been 1000% improvement over the Monkey King, but... I can see why some didn't vote, especially if they were only maginally interested in the election.

by teknofyl 2005-08-14 09:22PM | 0 recs
How the Democrats can win
As i states as Kos to win first the moderate and liberals dems need to stop bickering and work together, present a united front.
by SensibleDemocrat 2005-08-14 09:19PM | 0 recs
Re: How the Democrats can win
Exactly! The DLC just needs to get with the program and support immediate withdrawal from Iraq, universal health care, a $10/hour minimum wage, repeat MBNA Biden's bankruptcy restrictions and end corporate welfare.

Once everybody in the Democratic party starts talking and acting and voting like Democrats we can all get along just fine.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-08-14 11:50PM | 0 recs
Re: How the Democrats can win
that should be repeal MBNA Biden's bankruptcy bill.
by Gary Boatwright 2005-08-14 11:51PM | 0 recs
GOP Unity
The current GOP unity wasn't built in a day. Their party had it's intra-party struggles. Right now the Right-wing nutjobs have won out and control their party.

Our party is in the midst of a similar struggle internally. Hence our division. For lack of a better word, the "progressive" side of the party is struggling for the ideological control with those who had been in control - for lack of a better term, the "DLC" side of the party. It's an ideological difference that I've given up hope of the two sides bridging.

What needs to happen for the type of party unity we see from the GOP is for one of the two ideologies to achieve a significantly greater power base than the other. Right now, the DLC side has the power base thanks to their majority status a decade ago. The progressive side is growing, and will take time to begin to wrest leadership positions away from them.

by michael in chicago 2005-08-15 06:04AM | 0 recs
Get rid of the elephant donkeys
Kerry, Clinton, Biden, Lieberman, etc., all need to go off and start their own spineless, Mush Party.  If they didn't vote against the war, I want nothing to do with any of them.  Biden is still out there calling for more troops (along with Clinton and, I assume, Lieberman).  These people aren't even on the same planet as me, much less the same political party.
by steve expat 2005-08-14 10:42PM | 0 recs
The only thing
elected officials understand is votes. We keep saying that if they grew a spine and embraced a populist agenda they would win, but it is only words. The way to shift debate  is to pick a progressive candidate, get behind them, and demonstrate that our issues win.

Leslie Byrne, candidate for Lt. Gov. of Virginia, offers us such an opportunity. If a progressive candidate like Byrne can win in Virginia, the whole national debate will shift to the left. Far more than when Harris Woford won his senate race.

If you have a blog, please post about Byrne. Some blogger buzz would go along way to raising awareness about her candidacy.

I know, I need to write a diary. Will do when I get a chance.

by Alice Marshall 2005-08-15 03:31AM | 0 recs
Running on economic issues
As Thomas Frank has demonstrated in his book those suffering the most from economic stagnation don't "get it".

Until the working class "values" voters start to feel some outrage at the economic imbalances in US society an economic appeal is not going to affect them.

The Dems make a weak populist case as well since many of them get the bulk of the financing from big business. If one does not want Biden, for example,  to do the bidding of MBNA then you will need to explain how he is going to fund his campaign.

by rdf 2005-08-15 05:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Running on economic issues
In fairness to Biden, he IS representing the interest of his State.

Delaware is the credit card capital of America.

by wayward 2005-08-15 04:51PM | 0 recs
sounds good
We should pretty much abandon gun control as a national issue.  It isn't going anywhere and won't win us any votes.  The most important vote that members of Congress make is for the leadership at the beginning of the term, beyond that we should let members have more ground to go on thier own, as long as it's not a major issue, like Social Security or extreme judges.
by Max Friedman 2005-08-15 06:18AM | 0 recs
Re: sounds good
Two words - Local issue.
by wayward 2005-08-15 04:52PM | 0 recs
Then tell the Corporatists to FUck Off
It is a lie created by the DLC sound machine that the Democratic party was failing because of it's diverseness...

  • Blacks do not have a problem with unions...

  • Unions do not have a problem with women and...

  • Women do not have a problem with gays...

  • HOWEVER...Corporatists (DLC/NDN) have a problem with EVERYONE who believes in civil rights and social Democracy... becauseit doesn't "sell" very well... to corporations.

So instead of kicking every one else out of the party... wouldn't it be more efficient just to "Unfuck the Donkey" by kicking out the corporatists who have been fucking with everyone's donkey?

That is the only way we will have unity.

The Corporatist are very happy to be in the "minority party" they have earned it and worked hard to get the party here since 1992. They want all the "pet issues folk" to stop belly aching" so that they can SELL their rights to the highest bidder...corporations are lining up to buy these rights and they corporatist are more than willing to oblige.

Too bad they are having difficulties with the "far left fringe" who are so looney that they believe that selling off their civil rights for "THE GOOD" of the party is NOT an option.

by Parker 2005-08-15 06:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Then tell the Corporatists to FUck Off
Rather than kick anyone out of the party, wouldn't make a lot more sense to simply elect a progressive?
by Alice Marshall 2005-08-15 08:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Then tell the Corporatists to FUck Off
Corporatist represent corporations not the Democratic base... let them form a Corporation party if they so wish... instead of hijacking the Democratic vote for their use
by Parker 2005-08-15 08:37AM | 0 recs
Parallels. Who inheirits the war?
As Chris shows, the Independents have abondoned Bush, and within rural America, this Iraq war is doing to Republicans what LBJ did to Democrats by staying in Vietnam.

Who stayed in Vietnam? Nixon did.

LBJ/Humphry were tarnished and worn down by the war, while Nixon had "a plan for getting us out of the war." Which he did, and it worked, sort of. And it wasn't much different from whatever plan the Democrats would have in 2008. But by 2008, Bush/Cheney will have marched the troops out of Iraq, trumpets blaring.

So I'm not so sure that the historical parallels hold.

by kofu 2005-08-15 07:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Parallels. Who inheirits the war?
You don't remember Eugene McCarthy?
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-08-15 08:26AM | 0 recs
As a rural dem...
I can see a change in my area.  The Isabella County (MI) Dem's are energized.  More people are coming to meetings, we are more visible in the community.

I recently volunteered at the County Fair at the ICDP booth.  Had a great success in our petition drive for an increase in minimum wage and saving social security.

The best comment I got was "Glad to see the party booth, I haven't seen anything in years."

by chanupi 2005-08-15 07:37AM | 0 recs
No Offense
But this truly is wishful thinking.  The cultural issues are going to have to be addressed by Democrats.  There's no way around it.  The white Americans who vote Republican because of those issues simply are hurting enough financially for economic issues to become a trump card.
by Jonathan Schwartz 2005-08-15 07:57AM | 0 recs
Re: No Offense
We are addressing them. Guns, you own them. Adults having abortions and sex are private issues. If you believe the latter is part of the governments business, then you are a Republican. Then we move on to the issues that matter.
by Jerome Armstrong 2005-08-15 08:28AM | 0 recs
Re: No Offense
It sure didn't take all that many words to define what Democrats should be and what Republicans are.

Republicans invade privacy to make sure sex is performed the way they believe it should be performed. Sex and procreation obsess them.

Democrats start by assuming you have a brain and can make decisions for yourself. Thus, they stay out of sex, and leave women's bodies in their control.

That level of libertarianism makes alot of sense to alot of people. Given that, it wouldn't hurt to sneer at and ridicule the Republicans for claiming to be on the side of "liberty" and "freedom" while trying to criminalize private behavior.

by Curt Matlock 2005-08-15 09:20AM | 0 recs
Ouchie!!
Oh, Jerome. . . I know you didn't mean any offense but I really wish you'd rephrase that post.  
by bellarose 2005-08-15 09:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Ouchie!!
No, I think he got it right.

Despite all the rhetoric, no one is EVER going to do anything about abortion, gay rights aren't going to be rolled back, and no one will take your guns unless you break the law.

Republicans are taking a lesson from Nixon's playbook. Nixon realized that if you talked like a racist, you could integrate as many schools as you wanted. The hard right truly cares more about words than actions. I wrote a diary on this yesterday, and frank4zen wrote a similar one http://www.mydd.com/story/2005/8/14/215328/574 as well.

The truth is that the Republican Party is much more divided on the issue than you would think, and much more divided than they let show to the public. Yes, it is the party of Bill Frist, Tom DeLay, and Rick Santorum but it is also the party of Ahnold, Rudy, Pataki, and Arlen Specter. Probably one of the more socially liberal Presidents of the modern era was a Republican, Gerald Ford. The head of the RNC, Marc Racicot is pro-choice. The Republican Party is not monolithic on the social issues.

What unites the Republican Party is money. Corporate whores don't give a fuck if abortion is legal or not or if gays can get married or not, or where the hell the Ten Commandments are. They just take advantage of the poor suckers who do. What scares the Republicans shitless is that we might actually figure this out.

by wayward 2005-08-15 05:07PM | 0 recs

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