Do we have the Dem 'Contract with America' already?

Jonathan Singer discussed the Newsweek Emanuel piece.

Emanuel also gave a presser with Schumer last week (covered by Morton Kondracke - but not by anyone else, that I can see), in which he seemed to set out the long-awaited principles on which the Dems will fight this year's elections:

When I asked Emanuel and Schumer whether the party would have a positive agenda to go along with their withering negatives, they both said it would -- but not yet.

Schumer responded, "We need a positive agenda. We have a positive agenda. And we're going to roll out a positive agenda at the appropriate time. ... We know we have to tell the American people where we're going."

He said that, "some pundits overemphasize the importance (of an agenda) in the minds of voters in a midterm election. But we'll have one that will stress six issues - honesty in government, real security, retirements and pensions, better health care for everybody, education and job security and energy independence."

So far, this is not blowing my skirt up gentlemen.

Tags: Chuck Schumer, Contract with America, Democrats, Elections 2006, rahm emanuel (all tags)

Comments

4 Comments

Post yours then,,,

since what your not thrilled with yet has not been published yet.

by Teaser 2006-03-20 10:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Post yours then,,,

One problem is that the things mentioned answer neither What do you stand for? nor What do you propose to do?

They fall between those two stools.

On the first, we have this comparison from Matt Bai's article last year on framing and the Dems, provided by Byron Dorgan:

I can describe, and I've always been able to describe, what Republicans stand for in eight words, and the eight words are lower taxes, less government, strong defense and family values. We Democrats, if you ask us about one piece of that, we can meander for 5 or 10 minutes in order to describe who we are and what we stand for. And frankly, it just doesn't compete very well. I'm not talking about the policies. I'm talking about the language.

And again, after mentioning the Contract with America, Bai goes on:
By contrast, consider the declaration that House Democrats produced after their session with John Cullinane, the branding expert, last fall. The pamphlet is titled ''The House Democrats' New Partnership for America's Future: Six Core Values for a Strong and Secure Middle Class.'' Under each of the six values -- ''prosperity, national security, fairness, opportunity, community and accountability'' -- is a wish list of vague notions and familiar policy ideas. (''Make health care affordable for every American,'' ''Invest in a fully funded education system that gives every child the skills to succeed'' and so on.) Pelosi is proud of the document, which -- to be fair -- she notes is just a first step toward repackaging the party's agenda. But if you had to pick an unconscious metaphor to attach to it, it would probably be a cotton ball.

That number again: six.

Bai tells us where that comes from, too:

Even before the 2004 election, Pelosi had enlisted John Cullinane, a software entrepreneur in Boston, to help the caucus develop the wording for a vision statement. Cullinane spent an hour and a half with members of the caucus one afternoon, while his aide scrawled suggestions on a white board. Among his recommendations was that they come up with a list that had six parts -- either six principles or six values or six ideas. When we spoke, I asked Cullinane why it had to be six. ''Seven's too many,'' he replied. ''Five's too few.''

On the other hand, we have the Contract itself.

It starts with a preamble whose nut is:

This year's election offers the chance, after four decades of one-party control, to bring to the House a new majority that will transform the way Congress works. That historic change would be the end of government that is too big, too intrusive, and too easy with the public's money. It can be the beginning of a Congress that respects the values and shares the faith of the American family.

But then goes to promise a list of eight specific changes to House procedure; and a list of ten bills it would bring to the House floor. (No promise to pass them, mind!)

That's the balance I'd choose: general principles - the equivalent of Dorgan's eight words; followed by a list of specific proposals. And, like the Contract, the commitment would be to bring them forward, not to pass them.

How radical, I'm not sure. I'd like to see single payer health care on the list, for instance, if all that was going to be possible on health was going to be putting down a marker. (Bush is clearly going to go veto-happy.) But something less radical - on Medicaid, say - might gain a split in GOP ranks. (Though not on a veto-proofing scale, no doubt.)

Probably mix and match - some bills that set out an ultimate goal (like single payer health care) and some with some chance of being passed.

The minimum wage would be something to go for under the second heading...

by skeptic06 2006-03-20 12:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Do we have the Dem 'Contract with America' alr

Is anyone else afraid of the DLC's Contract for America?

I'm shaking.

by ugottabkidding 2006-03-20 11:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Do we have the Dem 'Contract with America'

Gingrich has said that the CwA was more about giving GOP candidates coherent talking points rather than nationalizing the election.  He doesn't think that CwA is what gave the GOP the majority in 1994.  

I think he is right in part -- that it was more about the scandals of congressional Dems and the health/Tax policies of Clinton.  BUT the CwA gave people a reason to vote FOR GOPers, not just a reason to vote against incumbent Dems or stay away from the polls.

My fear is that the Dem version will be long on explanatory values and short on specifics.  The CwA was very specific and I think that was appealing.  From the categories described in the Newsweek interview, I am not optimistic.

by Ian in DC 2006-03-20 12:26PM | 0 recs

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