I love the guy. But we all need to get past the idea that some messiah candidate is going to come along and save us through charisma. Instead we've got to get our hands dirty and start working hard and long-term to get the public behind us again.
You're a NYC liberal and I'm a California ... whatever I am ... and we both know that the general public is not us. But I don't think the Right has done it through good candidates. I mean, really! Bush a good candidate? I think it was instead through decades of pounding out that propaganda. And now we have a long job in front of us winning the public back by explaining over and over again that democracy and community are better values and that the common good is a better approach to issues.
I don't want to speak for them but I think Matt and Kos are both saying what I said an a different reply to you here. I think it's about "our" (Dems, Progressives, etc.) leadership reaching out to the general public and explaining why the stuff the Right is telling them is bad for them and why Progressive/Democrat values and solutions are better for them, instead of just accepting that people "have moved to the right and trying to craft campaigns around a more conservative-oriented appeal. It is also about recognizing the strategies of the Right and working to counter them instead of playing right into them.
So, for example, the problem with Leiberman is not at all about ideological purity, it's about his reinforcement of right-wing ideology, and his enabling of right-wing strategies designed to crush ... well, Leiberman, along with the rest of us.
What is a fair criticism is that Clinton did not do enough to build a strong party infrastructure for when he left.
Exactly! But I also recognize that we were all quite late in coming to understand what was going on with the Right's infrastructure - the funding, coordination, etc. There were early voices sounding warnings (PFAW, Covington, Callahan...), but I think that a lot of us only really started seeing it and articulating it out of what was happening with Whitewater, Lyons and Brock's books, etc.
A key to understanding what happened, I think, is that Democrats and Progressives thought of themselves as a majority and continued to think of themselves that way and act based on that thinking for too long. The result was a focus on GOTV instead of persuasion - focusing on getting out voters they thought they had without understanding how rapidly the number of people identifying as Democrats was declining. They felt there was no need to persuade people, to explain WHY it is better for them if Democrats are in office. Meanwhile this was the entire objective of this huge (billions of dollars, hundreds of organizations) machine the Republicans had been putting in place since the early 70s - just endlessly pounding out the propaganda, saying ANYthing, just anything, to get people to vote for them.
So I'm not too down on Bill Clinton for that. Few saw and understood. But STILL thinking like that - thinking you can "chase the center" instead of working to persuade the public that the Right is extremely bad for them - is inexcusable now. There is just too much at stake to give them or their arguments any ground.
Let me nitpick on language a bit here, because it affects how we think about solving this.
It is not "the GOP" that has all those people on the shows. It's the "conservative movement" infrastructure -- the Heritage Foundation, and about 400 other similar organizations. They are called think tanks but they are really ideological advocacy/communications/marketing organizations. They are "501c3" charitable organizations - which means taxpayer subsidized - but operate illegaly as partisan supportive arms of the Republican Party.
This is such an important distinction. The problem is not that "the Democrats" aren't getting people onto the shows, etc;, to match the right. As Jonathan wrote, the problem is that Progressives don't have the kinds of organizations in place that put those people on the shows. The reason this is such an important distinction is because it tells us that to fight back we need to build organizations that reach out to the general public promoting the BENEFITS of Progressive values and a Progressive approach to issues, over and over, day after day, until the public understands and starts to support Progressive candidates and legislation. THIS is how the Right did it. This is how the Right took over the Republican Party and persuaded so many people to support them.
It's just basic marketing. For 30 years we have been hearing that conservatives are good and liberals are bad and stupid and corrupt and "against God" and all the rest but we have not been hearing anything to counter that! After 30 years of this OF COURSE this is what a lot of people think! DUH!
Ths relates to the "issue group" argument. INSTEAD of organizations that tell the public that Progressive approaches are better, we have issue groups, and most Progressive money goes to these groups. But these grouls do not reach out to the general public and do not tell them that Progressives are better ad Progressive ideas are better. And the result is that the underpinnings - support for basic Progressive ideals - of these groups erodes. If environmental groups, for example, spent their money telling the public that Progressives are better, then the public would elect Progressives, and environment-friendly laws and regulations would be in pace to protect the environment...
Oh come on. The way this thing is worded, as soon as one of us exposes some RW smear operation we can be accused of violating "Online Integrity" and you guys can play victim and pump up THAT as the issue to divert from what was uncovered. How often does THAT happen? How many of these operations pretend to be individuals when it's really a funded front.
Eight of the first ten endorsers at the time I checked. What else COULD I have meant?
So, OK, I go back to the site, click on one of the endorsers, and they have an ad for a site with t-shirts that say only, "Deport Pedro." Cute. Great company I would be in if I joined. No, thanks.
Let me ask a question about the "Integrity" statement. Suppose there is a a website set up to smear a candidate. Perhaps it's in New Jersey. But they do it anonymously. Now, suppose I find out who is doing it - some PR firm. Does this "onlne integrity" statement prevent me from exposing who is doing it?
I checked it out, saw that eight of the first ten "endorsers" link to Michelle Malkin - which is a violation of the statement they are endorsing - and decided not to waste any more of my time on this nonsense.
I have to respectfully disagree. I think that comments like Hoyer's give important cover to a far-right movement intent on destroying Democrats and democracy. I think a major factor in the electoral success of the far-right has been the masking of their agenda from the voting public. A second factor has been to marginalize critics. Hoyer's comments reinforce both tactics.
I'm saying that comments like Hoyers work against our ability to get that majority. Hoyer is very public and comments like his get amplified by the Right's channels. The damage he and others do with such comments goes very far.
Blogs are not as public. The noise we make, unfortunately, stays largely amongst ourselves. But we do reach party activists, and can therefore can apply internal-party pressure and educate each other about hy such comments are harmful.
I think we all (bloggers, blog readers) need to understand that we are not the public. It would benefit "our side" to increase our understanding of how and where where regular people get their information about current events, and what factors are involved in influencing how they digest that information. What do they pay attention to? What do they tune out?
Obviously Rudi Giuliani was on TV a lot in a favorable way after 9/11, when the public was paying attention.
"Private schools on the other hand have the option of accepting or declining any student based on their own arbitrary enrollment policies."
Exactly! The reason you hear these high cost-per-pupil figures for public schools is they are required to provide services for costly special-needs kids. Private schools just refuse to let them in.
If you think about private schools as a business, it obviously would not be possible for them to compete with public schools if they had to provide the same level of services that public schools do, pay teachers the same, AND pay their CEO his $100 million? You know they are going to cut costs by sacrificing the quality.
"Government spending is bad because it's less efficient than free-market spending"
This is just false. Corporatists have a complaint with the systems required in a democracy that provide accountability and transparency, and use the word "inefficient" to describe such systems. But even with "inefficient" democracy, once you start looking at specific examples like Medicare you find that government is vastly more efficient. Perhaps this is because democracy really is a better system
"effective at increasing consumption of private schools (that's the goal)"
The public, when given an honest choice instead of linguistic trickery, told that the goal of the "voucher" movement is getting rid of public education, always chooses to keep public education. That is why voucher ballot initiatives always lose.
I think the context of the issue-group arguent is the success of the "conservative movement."
Republican issue groups subordinate their interests to the larger cause of getting right-wing Republicans elected. This translates to effectiveness for their individual causes. They get their people in, and their people take care of them. In some cases this means staying quiet, recognizing that promoting their issue might alienate voters. The religious right did this after the 1996 election.
Another way they subordinate their own issue interests is in their public messaging. Conservative groups pound out a coordinated message that overall conservative ideology is better than progressive ideology, period. When they do bring in issue arguments at all, it is in the context of the underlying conservative message. This serves to reinforce the overall conservative messaging. And because the ongoing drumbeat of pro-conservative messaging is creating a climate of receptiveness, tying the issue message to the conservative message strengthens their issue message as well.
We can't deny that this has been an effective strategy.