Should the DEMS offer their own Contract With America?

From Political Wire.Com.

No matter what side you fall on, you can pretty much agree that the DEMS have had a tough time defining themselves as far back as 2000 (when Gore failed to run on the Clinton record).

This has been especially true post 9/11.

But with Bush’s duck becoming lamer by the day, could the DEMS get back in the game by offering a list of clear objectives, promises and positions in the form of a new Contract With America?

If so, what prongs would it have? Would it appeal to the base or to the 5-10% swing vote that existed in 2004 (which could be higher if you believe the latest polls)?

The problem with this for the DEMS is that they seem to have ideas that don’t play that well as bullet points or sound bites. The success of Newt’s offering was that it offered specific (or near specific) ideas of what would happen if they were elected.

How do you make “continue to protect the rights of women to choose” as an action item? It is more of a general, long term goal.

If they lack specificity, then they just become general political BS that the public would ignore.

How should/would the DEMs phrase their contract? Even if you aren’t a DEM, give them some advice. God knows they need it!

The only way to unseat incumbents is to make the point that something needs to change NOW.

If the Democrats can only speak of “protecting” what already exists, it will help very little, because people won’t feel that the prior “lack of protection” has hurt them. I understand that the politically-minded may be concerned that a more conservative Supreme Court might conceivably, in the future, overturn Roe vs. Wade, but to the millions of voters who have yet to see their access to abortion hindered by law, there won’t be such an impetus for political change.

What would Democrats change about the way the country is currently being run? What in the American way of life does the average voter feel is lacking?

Newt Gingrich found that niche and filled it - government accountability. That was the central theme of the Contract with America, and he helped publicize scandal or “higher-than-thou” behavior on the part of Congressional Democrats.

If the Democrats are to re-take Congress, that’s the sort of thing they will have to find and sell. Not “be afraid of the future with the Republicans,” but “change the Republican present.”

You need to sell:

1- Smarter defense strategy
2- Fiscal Responsibility
3- Higher Ethics

The Democrats’ woes are exaggerated. If the Dems held <40% of Congress, it would be alarming. But there is already a significant minority that shares Democratic values. To turn this into a plurality, some marketing is in order.

By next year, the Iraq quagmire is going to be even more unpopular than today. The contract could simply be to conduct the war on terror smarter and better. We can see that Iraq was counter-productive. The Dems need to say what they would do about terror. The public may be in a buying mood by 2006.

Fiscal responsibility is an easy sell. Look at the eight years of peace and prosperity under Clinton. Look at the record surpluses being converted to record debts. Democrats can run easily and confidently under the banner of fiscal responsibility.

Higher ethics. We’re seeing power corrupting the Republicans. The Dems need to make a commitment to raise the ethics standards and live by them. Right now, Democrats have more credibility in this area.

What cmkeller said. The Dems are a less odious alternative to the Republicans (big whoop, out of a field of two), but they’ve been hamstrung for ages by their own lame-ass attempts at messaging and by ineffective leadership to overcome that. In a society where most folks get their news from 30-second sound bites and conservatives own the mainstream media, that’s suicide.

A “Contract with America” is nice as a headline-grabbing gimmick, but what the Dems really need in the long term is a more effective propaganda machine. Some of this is hobbled by the very diverse nature of the Democratic Party itself – they don’t have the luxury of the Republicans’ “We are all of one mind” black-and-white philosophy – but the fundamental problem IMO is the lack of a clear vision and clear leadership on the “message thing”.

Which, of course, is what a “Contract with America” would be. Essentially, a positive vision for the future, with specific policy goals outlining a specific set of values.

The problem with the Democratic party right now is the same thing that’s killing the Conservatives in the UK. They’re a pathetic, rudderless organization with no strong leadership who offer absolutely no ideas, no clear vision of the future, and no plan on how to get to wherever it is they can’t figure out they want to get to.

If the Dems can find a way to neutralize the abortion issue, they will massacre the Pubbies in '06. We will almost certainly still be up to ass in alligators, Iraq wise. Ethical scandals abound.

It has been suggested that a reversal of RvW might very well accomplish just that: by turning the issue over to the individual states, the national platform is diminished. A Dem candidate for Senate or House can evade the issue by pointing out that he won’t have occassion to vote on it.

So, no, I don’t think so, at least not yet. Right now, the best thing about Dems is who they are not, not who they are.


#1. We’re the party of individual freedom. We think the government has no business sticking its nose into your private life, whether it be to interfere in your reproductive decisions or to force your kids to go through mandatory psychiatric screening.

#2. We’re the party of fiscal responsibility. We believe public programs have a valid place but we also believe the government can’t spend money it doesn’t have. We favor a return to the balanced budget.

#3. Step back from heavy-handed interventionist foreign policy. We don’t think our kids should be sent off to war except in defense of this country and its immediate interests. We believe in a strong defense but we assert that there’s a difference between defense and offense.

I’m sure we’re all grateful for a clear, even-handed and non-partisan view. Allow me to return the favor.

The most urgent order of business is to wrest the levers of power from the incompetent ideological extremists. As soon as possible, immediately not being an option. First and foremost. When one is bleeding from an open wound, the first thing is to stanch the bleeding, one can consider whether or not to go bowling at some later date.

In other words, Democrats don’t need to change a thing, just continue with the “Vote for us, we’re not quite as bad as the Republicans” message? Is “I’m not George Bush!” really going to win congress back?

Pehaps, perhaps not. I’m more concerned with defeating the Bushiviks and repudiating their unholy alliance with the Troglodyte Right than defeating the Republican Party. An honest conservative party is essential, a car needs brakes.

The problem is that for the moderate Republicans to regain control of their own party, they have to be willing to risk losing power. This is almost like asking a heroin addict to spend their money for Mother’s Day flowers than for smack.

Let’s call it The Brand New Deal! Building on and improving the Democratic Party’s many triumphs. From the party that brought you the Social Security, Farm Price Supports, Medicare/Medicaid, and the EPA (we’ll conveniently ignore that Nixon actually created the EPA), all of which are good things, contrary to what the other guys tell you.

Surely, good sir, you have not confused me with someone on the right side of the aisle?

That’s great, but how the hell do they go about doing that? The answer is to have some sort of set document with clear goals and a clear plan of action to achieve those goals - something similar to the Contract with America. The problem with the Dems isn’t that the Republicans are popular, it’s that they are seemingly completely incapable of capitalizing on Republican unpopularity and gaining seats and offices.

Heaven forbid! I can only presume upon your generosity and hope that seppuku is sufficient apology!

Yes, I understood that. The question then becomes, what is the best WAY to defeat the Bushiviks and repudiating their unholy alliance with the Troglodyte Right? Doesn’t that mean defeating troglodyte right congressmen and replacing them with honest, clean-living defenders of truth and justice? But of course that won’t happen, because the far-right congressunits are generally from safe Republican constituencies, what will happen is that moderate constituencies will throw out moderate Republicans and replace them with moderate Democrats. And the result of that is that the troglodyte right congressunits are still in congress but no longer have a majority.

So in order to achieve this goal you have to have a strategy to convince moderate voters to vote for moderate democrats over moderate republicans. “The Republicans are baby-eating troglodytes!” won’t work, because these moderate republican congressunits aren’t baby-eating troglodytes themselves. I don’t personally think blaming the moderate Republicans in swing districts for the ascendency of the baby-eating troglodytes is a winning strategy. In swing congressional elections people vote for the guys running in their district, not whether those guys will make Tom Dascle or Tom DeLay majority leader. And if you want to convince them otherwise you have to build a party-wide platform that will convince swing voters to go against their natural tendancy to vote for the candidate they like best but rather vote for a Democrat as a Democrat because they want to see the Democrats get a majority. “We’re not quite as bad as the Republicans” doesn’t seem to me to be the message that will do that.

Democrats need to have a solid platform. They need to clearly state what they mean to do. They need to stress the “party of everyone” angle. They need to come out in support of unions (a huge voting block). They need to put a negative light on everything the present administration has done or tried to do. They need to go on the offensive this time, and have counter punches for everything the Rove “machine” may come up with, while landing solid hits of their own. In short, they need to come out fighting this time. They need to create some outrage over the “interpretation” of eminent domain and portray it as a threat to individual property. They need to demand hard answers about Iraq, and keep referencing the CIA, Blix, etc reports and Downing memos (while playing up initial claims that it would be onw quickly and cheaply -tax breaks during a war???). While they are at it, they can raise questions as to who these tax breaks actually helped. Finally, they need to create some spots and propaganda against the too cozy relationship between the current administration and big business and the religious right (paint it as a deliberate erosion of individual rights).

If that includes the individual freedom to smoke pot, do some blow, sell my body for sexual pleasure and have a cigarette at the bar in a privately owned tavern, you have my vote.

If fiscal responsibility & budget balancing include getting a handle on entitlement spending as opposed to raising taxes, you once again have my vote

Does part of a strong defense include SDI and intervening at our borders to prevent illegals from entering? If so, you have a perfect trifecta.

[QUOTE=SteveG1They need to create some outrage over the “interpretation” of eminent domain and portray it as a threat to individual property. [/QUOTE]

Oh, yeah. That Supreme Court decision that had the liberal members of the Court in favor and the conservative members of the Court opposed. That’s a good issue to hang election of Democrats on.

Not necessarily. Our congressunits are whores, first, last and always. If the power shifts away from the Trogs as public approval shifts away, you can behold some remarkable transformations of character and opinion. The clout would then be in the hands of those Pubbies who have always been pretty rational and have long chafed under the thumbs of such as Frist and DeLay.

Take DeLay (R-Undead). He represents one of the most Republican districts in Known Space. There is almost no chance of electing a Democrat there. But he could be challenged by a reasonable Republican in the primary. The result would not appear to alter the balance, R replaces R. But it would.

Now, of course, Texas is, as always, an extreme example. But in other districts where the political balance is more tenuous, it is entirely possible that Trog incumbents will decide to spend more time with their families, for similar reasons.

I don’t see where it says the US Supreme Court is supposed to be a representative of either the Democrats or the Republicans, do you, Bricker?

It’s a great idea. The Dems can campaign on the promise to appoint SC justices, in the tradition of Thomas and Scalia, who will stick to the original intent of the constitution, and who won’t legislate from the bench.