August 31, 2010

Democrats off message for a reason

Back in 2008 the Democrats rode the "Hope and Change" message to the White House and large Congressional victories. Twenty two months later they are floundering and in large part it's because reality has subverted their narrative. The message that got them here is not able to be used to keep them in power. This November, when the Republicans are looking to do to Democrats what that rogue wave did to the Aleutian Ballad a few years back, the Democrats themselves will apparently still be looking for a coherent message to sell to the American people.

Reality includes some stubborn facts. Firstly, when you are the party in power it is pretty hard to campaign on change. Change means either your own ouster or more of the change you have already brought. Clearly, the public doesn't want that. 

Another stubborn fact is the fact that there are two groups in the country - those who do want more of the same changes and those who want none of it. The group that wants more is unhappy that not enough has been done. The group that wants a reversal of direction is also unhappy but also more numerous and no longer silent about it. That takes away to a large degree the ability of the media, clearly in the former camp, to control the narrative. That narrative is snow balling into a different story line - this change is not the change America needs, or wants. 

Which brings us to the third stubborn fact. The hope-y change-y story line isn't working so the Democrats have to change the story line altogether. Guess what, their playbook is thinner than we thought. The only other theme they have is "it wasn't me". That amounts to only two approaches - blame Bush and blame Obama/Pelosi/(Reid)*. 

The White House and Democrat leader seem hell bent on the message that the American people don't want to go back to the Bush era (you know, when unemployment was half of what it is now and the same for deficits). That's weak, and it's an abdication of their responsibility over the last 19 months. It ignores their demands for $800 billion to stop the recession from getting unemployment above 8%. Eight percent is looking pretty good right now. I was no great fan of Bush but let's give the man some credit - he was no Obama. People aren't stupid - they know things are worse now than when Bush was in charge. 

A smarter message might have been this recovery needs more time. Wait - they tried that one too. Still, it would have been better to stick it out because it has an element of hope in it. The Democrat message of don't go back to Bush makes sense only in this regard it is at least a strategy and a message. It is better than the Democrat strategy of last August - hiding. 

Similarly on the campaign trail, smart Democrats are trying to point out where they have stood against the President. They are blaming the problems on Obama/Pelosi/(Reid)*.  An interesting strategy. They are trying to claim their independence and go maverick-y because that's their best shot at holding on for a win in November. There's no reason that should fly with voters.  At least, it shouldn't fly with enough voters.  Perhaps those not paying attention might be suckered into thinking that this Congressman (or woman) is really on the side of the people. But the "I voted against Cap and Trade (or the bailouts or Obamacare)" approach is an attempt at electoral insurance that in the current climate is as useless as it is transparent. If Nancy Pelosi let 20 Democrats strategically vote against each of those items, that's 60 Democrats who can make that independent claim. Then if Obama's popularity tanks, those Congressional Representatives in swing districts can start pointing out that they're not with these guys. But the problem is that if you are on board for two unpopular items,  then the one you are against doesn't balance it out. You are either on the devil's side or you are against him. (I'm not calling President Obama the devil... I'm referring to Pelosi.) There is no such thing as slightly pregnant. Pick your analogy. Matthew 12:30 says it well enough;

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

Independent? Not bloody likely.  It's a convenient but false message.

The Democrats are indeed off message.  Hope and Change is what sold America, the President ran on "I'm not Bush" and guess what, the country realizes that now, and they don't like the alternative they have chosen. The Democrats HAVE TO BE off message.  The problem is that they don't have a replacement message that will get any traction and the clock thankfully, is ticking.

*Harry Reid is trying to distance himself from the President and by proxy Pelosi, and even himself.  Look at his comments on the Ground Zero mosque as an example.  Look at his then and now comments on Iraq.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Disagreement is always welcome. Please remain civil. Vulgar or disrespectful comments towards anyone will be removed.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Share This