The damaged Republican brand

Can Republicans can catch up quickly, in regards to the lead that Democrats and progressives have with the use of new media technologies? Of course, without a doubt. There's nothing stopping them from using them all right now, and building new and better ones, except that they have nothing to sell that anyone wants, given their recent track record. Until they get ideas to sell that people believe are real, it doesn't matter how good they use new media and the internet, they will be in the minority.

This is the key difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party this decade. The Republican establishment, earlier this decade, had been at it's zenith. They controlled all three branches of gov't, and didn't really need to embrace the use of blogs and internet fundraising to maintain their majorities. All they needed to do was govern. Democrats, in contrast, had the ideas that could turn this country around, but its campaigning mode was stuck in the 1980's.

Now, the tables are reversed. Democrats are on the up, and Republicans are on the down. It's probably going to take the Republicans years to reform their party around ideas that are compelling to a majority of the nation, especially if the Democrats don't blow it.

The areas where the Democrats could blow it? Getting much deeper into Afghanistan comes to mind, so much so that it becomes a Democratic war, or not pulling out of Iraq sufficiently. That would tear the Democratic Party in two. But I believe that the real areas around which Democrats could provide an opening to Republicans is going to be financial reasons.

From the looks of reading the Sunday NYTimes, Obama is going to prioritize a stimulus bill in January. It looks very promising, except that its going to dramatically increase the already bulging deficit, which I guess there's no way around for the near future. I'm also encouraged that it seems that we are going to let the Bush tax cuts expire on their own in 2010. I really wasn't looking forward to having to defend a tax raise the next few cycles in tight contests. We are going to have to see some belt-tightening of federal spending at some point though. Bailouts and stimulus can't be the only cure. If the spending becomes outrageous in examples of waste, it's going to come back to bite us.

Charlie Cook has some further notes on the Republican mess:

"We lost because we weren't conservative enough." If that mind-set prevails, the only way for Republicans to regain real power will be to wait until Democrats completely implode and to hope that Republicans can win at that point simply because they aren't Democrats.
A fierce conservative social and cultural agenda?  Please, welcome that decades long minority. Or, "tax cuts, come hell or high water, with little regard for the size of deficits" or the fall of the dollar? Yes, welcome that minority too. Cook doesn't mention it, but the third pillar of the ancient GOP, national defense in support of invasions of other countries that didn't attack us, has also become problematic.

As far as for what the Obama administration can do to help keep the lead that our side has in the use of the internet, this is an idea:

Ellen Miller, director of the Sunlight Foundation, which advocates for government transparency, expects technology in an Obama administration will have two components: transparency and connectedness. Transparency means using technology to open the windows of government, allowing all Americans with a computer to supervise the officials they've elected, starting with Obama. The president-elect has talked about crafting a user-friendly portal where people could look up and comment on legislation before he signs it.

Connectedness, Miller says, means allowing people outside government to have a bigger role in crafting policy (or at least feel like they have a bigger role). It might mean a period of a few days for open comments on newly passed legislation before Obama signs it into law, or administration-sponsored wiki Web sites that would let users make suggestions on budget bills, which are often notoriously opaque.

This level of connection seems a bit utopia in request. For instance, I don't think the stimulus package that is said to going to be on the desk Jan 20th will go this route. We've gotta have more transparency though, and this is a good start.

Tags: 2008 (all tags)



Re: The damaged Republican brand
"Republicans Hoping to Re-Brand Themselves
As thinking, caring humans." - Ironic Times
by phastphil 2008-11-24 05:31AM | 0 recs
Re: The damaged Republican brand

I think a lot also depends on who the Rs nominate in 2012, and who in the meantime emerges as the de facto leader or leaders. Fortunately for us there doesn't seem to be a candidate for them in the near term who can provide a credible voice of the opposition.

by animated 2008-11-24 05:37AM | 0 recs
The stupid economy

If the economy is going well Dems will maintain power.  It is that simple.

by bakho 2008-11-24 05:54AM | 0 recs
Re: The damaged Republican brand

Anyone know what it costs yearly right now to payoff the interest on the National Debt, as part of the federal budget? In previous years, it was just below the cost of the Military which was the highest budget item. Where is it today, given this massive increase in deficits due to the bailouts?

Did Pirot die and go to heaven?

by MainStreet 2008-11-24 06:17AM | 0 recs
The Fact Is

That the Democrats don't really have any new ideas either.  They simply waited for the Republicans to implode, which the Republicans eventually did.

I'm willing to wait and see what new ideas Obama has.  But from right here it looks like pretty much the same old Washington Consensus.

During the campaign, Barack Obama told us often how "change doesn't come from the top down; it comes from the bottom up."  As the bottom falls out of the economy, and with the Republican brand in such decline, there may be a chance that people at the real grass (as opposed to the net) roots will reach for something different from the Twiddlee Dee and Twiddilee Dum Washington neo-liberal consensus the two parties have been offering us these past 30 years.  But it would be helpful if there was someone there to organize for that.

I was hopeful that a lot of new organizing would grow from the framework the Obama campaign developed.  And it may still happen after people have rested up and replenished their bank accounts.  But I don't see very much of that happening right now, and, given how bad the economy is looking, right now is the time to get moving.  To his credit, Al Giordano and his field hands are trying to get something like that working -- going to the neighborhoods and continuing to talk to people and organize them around issues like foreclosures.  

Unfortunately, Al's work looks like a fairly small and isolated effort. Everybody else seems content to sit around and talk about what they think of the various bureaucrats Obama is planning to appoint -- virtually every one of which follows the same Washington Consensus Reagan and Thatcher mapped out for us in the late Seventies.

That mindset and those ideas are going to fail this time.  The essential irrationalities of capitalism -- the withering of aggregate demand, the economic impossibility of empire, the end of our environmental rope -- have all now gotten too intense to be patched over by inflating bubbles and having American consumers borrow money to bail out the currently existing social and political order.

Hopefully we will be there with new ideas to help pick up the pieces and get things on a different track.  We will not have much time.  When the time comes to act, it remains to be seen whether all the effort we put into helping elect Barack Obama will have been wasted -- exhausting us and frittering away our money at an inopportune time -- or whether that work built us a foundation and a framework to bring actual change from the ground up.

And it remains to be seen whether the Democrats -- and indeed Barack Obama -- will be part of the problem or part of the solution.

by kaleidescope 2008-11-24 06:18AM | 0 recs
We are coming full circle.

Soon we will have caught up to Nader (that scumbag asshole!). Our job now that the Republicans are marginalizing themselves is to replace them except we must do so on the progressive side of the Democrats rather than the authoritarian side.

But we are trapped by the "two party" system here of first-past-the-post (plurality not majority elections) geographically based (gerrarymandered) winner-take-all (only one representative per district.)

At worst the Republicans will come back. At best we will have a new Chicago style system where Democrats rule as a one party system made up of Daleyites.

So then the question becomes how do we create a progressive quasi party within the Democratic party?

We could do it with technology like Obama did with his volunteer system. But that's going to take some professional grade software and management.

by Jeff Wegerson 2008-11-24 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: We are coming full circle.

Good summation.

I've got some people working on a platform that goes beyond fundraising in
community efforts, more into group organizing around actions, a social activist platform. That's the direction I think we are heading with netroots activism.

However, I'm not so sure that a progressive quasi party within the Democratic Party is all that viable. No one can even agree on what it means to be progressive.

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-11-24 07:01AM | 0 recs
Re: We are coming full circle.

I think the fact is  what we saw in 2008 was the voters throwing the GOP out more than welcoming us in.  And really does it matter.  Dems have a once in a lifetime chance to show that we can govern.  

If BO and the new adminstration puts forth policies that the voters like and we fix Bushes problems that will be enough to win in 2012.  But i also see an "investment in america" narrative coming out from BO such as rebuilding our infrastructure.  

Really i think this is what the voters want.  Good centrist government that is investing in our future so as our childern will be better off than their parents.  That is a winner imho.  


by giusd 2008-11-24 07:13AM | 0 recs
Progressive Agreement

When you say platform you mean software platform, right? At first I was thinking you meant political platform.

I think you are on the right track. Paul Preston, the software creator of Soapblox, for a while talked of taking it in the social networking direction. I had to beg him to add multi-vote polling and I really wanted ranked vote polling where you could drop in different voting engines like IRV and Condorcet.

But what I really want is a direct democracy by delegable proxy engine built into a social networking platform. (See James Armytage-Green here -> age/vm/proxy.htm ).

It would combines friends lists with a voting structure which could double as an organizing structure. If the data is community owned then the organizing could go in either direction.

Forgive me for being a bit esoteric here. This stuff really needs some real world experience to rough tune and then fine tune.

I figure it can work either within the current Democratic party structures or even without them.


As for agreement on what progressive means, I don't think that is important.

by Jeff Wegerson 2008-11-24 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Agreement

Yes, its a software platform in alpha/beta testing right now, as the campaign tools are further developed.

That direct democracy link looks interesting, and seems like something which could be integrated in an advanced stage.

I too want to go more in the direction of social networking, even for this blog platform, but I've also been very interested in integrating activism with the user. I've about had it with the rudimentary scoop platform for this site. I don't really care that much for bringing in the refinements to the platform that DKos has made either. I think we've got to get beyond blogging and mob commenting, into actually taking concrete actions around influencing policy, and in ways that can be quantified, ways that allow people to influence politics beyond just giving money (though that is very important too).

by Jerome Armstrong 2008-11-24 08:20AM | 0 recs
I'm all ears

I agree. I'll be watching and waiting to see and hear about where you will be going. Good luck!

by Jeff Wegerson 2008-11-24 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Progressive Agreement

I've been hearing that from a few friends. i look forward to your updates on this Jerome.

by durendal 2008-11-25 02:08AM | 0 recs
Good thing the netroots wasn't elected

Just netroots candidates

by iohs2008 2008-11-24 07:09AM | 0 recs
The only thing that matters... that Obama makes America a better place to live for everyone.

If some bloggers don't get their way, they can go cry in their oatmeal.

by iohs2008 2008-11-24 07:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The damaged Republican brand

To your first sentence:

"Can Republicans can catch up quickly, in regards to the lead that Democrats and progressives have with the use of new media technologies? "

Absolutely NOT.  The problem for them is demographics.....

Republicans are increasingly OLD - How are the elderly with new media technologies (computers & internet)?  Not so good right?  These people are reached using OLD media technolgies (why right wing radio is so successful for them)

Note - the fact that democrats are increasingly younger - shows why they have been so sucessful online and with newer media technologies - and so poorly with older ones (think air america - progressive radio shows) - I dont know many younger people who actively listen to the radio.

by strapking 2008-11-24 06:37AM | 0 recs
Re: Demographics

It's way more than age.  

Look at the Republicans in Congress.

Blacks: None

Hispanics:  Republicans claim six, four white Cubans from Florida including Mel Martinez in the Senate, a white Portuguese kid from California (Devin Nunes) and Trent Franks.  Trent?  Devin?

Women: Just under 10% in each House of congress (17 in the House, 4 in the Senate).  And that number keeps going down each election (it was 20 in the House and 5 in the Senate).  Democrats have as many women from California (19 House +2 Senate) as Republicans have for the whole country.

Asians:  Meet Bobby Jindal.  Meet him again.  Even their politician from Hawaii has the very Anglo name of Linda Lingle.

by David Kowalski 2008-11-24 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: The damaged Republican brand

The Republicans lost mostly because of incompetence and corruption.  The Democratic party was not pushing a radically different agenda.

If the Democrats don't deliver better government, the GOP will be back sooner than you think.

by myiq2xu 2008-11-24 06:43AM | 0 recs
The GOP lost because democrats beat them

It's sophomoric, albeit not unexpected, to continue to view the American political landscape in terms of what Republicans have or have not done (e.g., the they lost meme).

Denying Barack Obama, Howard Dean, (or any other democrat) credit is passable. They know what they did -- they don't need our adulation.

But it is foolish to deny the existence of a fundamental leftward shift in the political landscape that Barack Obama, Markos, Dean, and others have not been in touch with and exploited for our benefit. Hillary Clinton ignored this shift by waging 1992's campaign and lost.

Of course, if they deliberately work to fail, then yes, you may see Republicans again. There are democratic majorities in republican epochs as well. But I wouldn't count on it.

by iohs2008 2008-11-24 06:56AM | 0 recs
I think you are mostly right

80 to 90% right.   I do think that the Republicans crossed a line however and that it hurt them.   I think Americans will tolerate going pretty far right.   Your average American likes God, guns, and war.   Its like Chevy, baseball and apples pie.  

But when guys like Santorum rip of the mask and just prove to be batshit craxy, and we have Congress meddling in the Schaivo case, and Republicans, lead by Bush, ignoring science on stem cell research, I do think middle Americans paused and said "I can't vote for these nuts."

by RichardFlatts 2008-11-24 07:15AM | 0 recs
But you are right

If we can't show some progress Americans will have no problem pulling the levers for someone with an 'R' next to their name.

by RichardFlatts 2008-11-24 07:15AM | 0 recs
Something else Obama mentioned.

I haven't seen much talk about it but he said the transparency should include members of the cabinet and agencies.  He said he expected them to report to the country regularly to let us know what they are working on.

Give the last 8 years where the agencies were stripped of competent leadership, spending their time getting republicans elected, the idea of trasparency there really appeals to me.

by GFORD 2008-11-24 06:44AM | 0 recs
Lets be honest with ourselves

You point out that Cook said: "If that mind-set prevails, the only way for Republicans to regain real power will be to wait until Democrats completely implode and to hope that Republicans can win at that point simply because they aren't Democrats."

But that is exactly what we Democrats did.   We were on deaths door after '04.  Even headed into '06 we had to take all the crap and the taunts like "they will probably manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, because after all they are Democrats."

While I admit we did start running better, smarter campaigns - less guns, a little more God, with a few papes of the Republican attack playbook ripped out and used by our side for a change -  we largely have gotten to where we are today because of Bush, Cheney, Iraq, Abramoff, Foley, DeLay, Ney, Santorum, Macaca Allen, and Schaivo.  Oh, did I mention Bush and Iraq.  

There has been no fundamental shift in our party.  We have won with progressive and we have won with conservatives (Casey, Webb, for ex.).  By by and large with have won with the same mix of issues we have been running on.   Competence, kitchen table economic issues, health care, education, womans issues.

Now it is up to us to see where we go from here after being handed the keys to the kingdom.

by RichardFlatts 2008-11-24 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Lets be honest with ourselves

I forget to mention stem cell research.  That alone may have won us Missouri.   Americans by and large support and Republicans look like dinosaurs pretending it has no value.

by RichardFlatts 2008-11-24 07:17AM | 0 recs
trapped in the '80s? try trapped in the '60s

as they continue to hit us on social and cultural issues, so in that sense they're trapped in the 1960s. Economically, more like the '30s, from which they've never really changed. This could by 1968 in reverse, we begin to chart a new political course, with a leader who to some will be seen as radical, but is really moderate. Every political era ends in a train wreck. the McKinley era ended in the depression, the FDR era ended with Vietnam/Civil Rights with the Nixon/Carter era as the bridge to the Reagan era, which continued until 2008. For the next 30-40 years, the GOP will see a slump as each party has during a political era. Stem cells, the economy, foreign policy, are all going in the leftward direction. Michael Moore made a point, that Obama is the first anti-war candidate to win election in US history.

by Lakrosse 2008-11-24 07:42AM | 0 recs
Newt Gingrich was Right

Ideas really do matter. Right now, the Republicans have no new or good ideas to offer.

by Zzyzzy 2008-11-24 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: The damaged Republican brand

I have zero confidence Obama will reduce waste. He is a centrist politician. I think he will get government to work, but it will be a government that works inspite of the massive abuse and waste perpetrated by Bush because Obama doesn't have the guts to actually overhaul the whole thing like it needs.

Call me a doom and gloomer.

by MNPundit 2008-11-24 08:52AM | 0 recs
Re: The damaged Republican brand

Threats (mind you, I hope that none of them come to pass, because I live in this country, too.)

*New President not up to the job.

*Borrowing finally exceeds limits of available money.

*Foreign bondholders read GAO Stewardship report and pull the plug.

*Climate change and fossil fuel/mineral depletion rates change substantially in the unfavorable directions.

*Decline in manufacturing and engineering education base start to catch up with us.

Some of these lead to the outcome that the traditional two parties are both unacceptable to voters at the same time.  Can you imagine Republicans running on less borrowing and believing in climate change?

by phillies 2008-11-24 10:16AM | 0 recs
Govern competently

Is what the Dem party has to do to mainatin a long stint in power. Comptence requires to recognize early what is being done right and what is being done wrong and adjusting properly. The main questio is however that when Obama is sworn in January 20, how big of a hole will the country be in?

by ann0nymous 2008-11-24 11:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Govern competently

Well said. It will take a while to get back to ground zero - but at least we can stop digging.

by durendal 2008-11-25 02:06AM | 0 recs


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